Thank you to the local resident organizers of this week’s Town Hall Meeting

This week a Town Hall Meeting was held on Wednesday, June 26th at Jimmie Simpson. It was organized by local residents who chose the format and questions and invited the speakers. South Riverdale Community Health Centre wanted to take the opportunity to thank local resident organizers for the opportunity to attend and participate in the discussion. This is a first of many opportunities to listen and be a part of a dialogue to understand how we can all play a part in helping everyone to feel more safe. We are committed to working collaboratively as a part of the Safer Community Committee with residents, local businesses and community leaders to improve the health, safety and well-being of residents in the Leslieville neighbourhood. If you want to share your views and ideas about community safety, please contact our Safer Community Committee, by emailing [email protected].

As members of the South Riverdale community for more than 45 years, SRCHC is committed to working with community members and stakeholders to improve the health, safety and well-being of our neighbourhood. To stay up-to-date with our safety strategies and statements from our Board, please visit our Community Engagement page.

Community Engagement Page

Working together to address community safety issues

July 25, 2023

Over the last several months we have all witnessed the increased volatility and behaviour issues in our community. We know these troubling shifts in behaviour are being felt across Toronto as we witness the effects of poverty and homelessness compounded by a deepening mental health crisis and an increasingly toxic drug supply. All this is happening while our justice system, housing and mental health services are overwhelmed by those in need.

We also know that everyone should feel safe in their neighbourhood and that no one should die on our streets.

Like you, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre is contending with the feelings of fear and loss that have gripped the community following the tragic death of Karolina “Caroline” Huebner-Makurat.

As a team of healthcare providers dedicated to community well-being, we are committed to finding solutions and working with our community and government partners to identify actions that will help address these complex and urgent challenges.

To that end, we are updating you on the measures that South Riverdale Community Health Centre has taken and are asking for your help by continuing to identify local community safety concerns and advocate for real action.

Actions taken by South Riverdale Community Health Centre:

  • Members of our medical staff were involved in the first response to the shooting on July 7th, administering emergency measures on the scene.
  • We have engaged One Community Solutions, an alternative security company that provides Community Safety Teams trained to support the homeless population and those with substance use addiction or mental health challenges, to provide an on-going presence outside of our building, bringing expertise in maintaining public safety in a way that is respectful and supportive of all community members.
  • We have met and will continue to meet with local groups that want to express their concerns or have ideas for supporting the health, safety and well-being of our community.
  • We established a Safer Community Committee co-chaired by SRCHC and including representatives of SafeTO, Toronto Police Services, the Leslieville BIA, Queen Street East Presbyterian Church, and local residents.

What we’re doing next:

  • Over the next two weeks, SRCHC representatives will knock on doors throughout our neighbourhood to gather community insights into local safety concerns. An online form will also be available on our website in the next 2 weeks.
  • Our Safer Community Committee will review and publicly report these findings, and issue recommendations concerning community safety improvements within 90 days. To contact our Safer Community Committee, please email [email protected].
  • We will continue to review and adapt our own facilities and procedures to maximize public safety and client wellbeing, including the installation of additional security cameras, and working with the Queen Street East Presbyterian Church to explore physical changes to the “parkette” that could help improve community safety in the short and long term.

Grief counseling and related services are also being made available through the City of Toronto’s Community Crisis Response Team, who can be reached by contacting at Katherine Marhong at 437-331-2637 or [email protected].

Thank you for your commitment to this community and for your assistance as we work to improve public safety and continue to provide essential health services to our community.

Jason Altenberg
Chief Executive Officer (CEO),
South Riverdale Community Health Centre

As members of the South Riverdale community for more than 45 years, SRCHC is committed to working with community members and stakeholders to improve the health, safety and well-being of our neighbourhood. To stay up-to-date with our safety strategies and statements from our Board, please visit our Community Engagement page.

Community Engagement Page

Statement from the SRCHC Board

July 10, 2023

We are horrified and saddened by the violence and loss of life that took place at Queen St. East and Carlaw Ave. on Friday, July 7. We grieve alongside the community, as Board members of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, as community members, and as Torontonians. Our hearts go out to the family of the victim, as we mourn with our neighbours for our shared loss.

Our Community Health Centre has been part of the South Riverdale community for more than 45 years and serving people at this location for more than 25. We join others in being deeply troubled by this level of violence in our community. This terrible incident took place near our facility and has affected the whole community. To address those impacts and emerging needs, our team is committed to accelerating community safety activities, many of which were underway before this tragic event occurred.

We believe that a whole community response is necessary to improve safety, including neighbours, police, SafeTO, all levels of government, and local organizations. We recognize serious, violent crimes are issues that require action from all community partners.

As always, the health and wellbeing of the community is what matters to us the most.

Our commitments

• Continue our commitment to multi-service health delivery – Many people in Toronto rely on our team and its services. We hold responsibility to deliver these services as a beacon in a healthy and safe community. From essential health care and diabetes education to pregnancy and mental health programs to harm reduction services, we will continue to work with residents and partner organizations to deliver services in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of clients, staff and community.

• Engage a community safety team – In the immediate term, we are engaging a community safety team. This team will be positioned outside our facility at 955 Queen Street East from 6:00 am to midnight for the coming week. We have begun discussions with community members about the effectiveness of this approach and will continue to monitor and adapt this initiative.

• Establish a new Safe Community Committee – This committee’s purpose is to enhance and build on the work of Supervised Consumption Services Community Liaison Committee, which meets quarterly and includes community members, the BIA and other stakeholders. We are immediately striking a Board-led committee to work with the local police service, SafeTO representatives and other stakeholders – including local school leaders and residents. The committee will re-examine how our Consumption and Treatment Services intersect with police and other city divisions. The stakeholders on this committee will pursue all opportunities to strengthen coordination between these groups in the interest of public safety.

• Ensure meaningful community engagement – The Health Centre will continue to particpate in extensive and deep community discussions, town halls, and research over the summer to inform recommendations to the Safe Community Committee, management, and our community partners.

• Provide frequent news and updates – Our community-led Board will share regular updates about our progress with stakeholders and community members. We have a dedicated page on our website to share news and information

If you would like to contact the Board, please email us at [email protected].

As members of the South Riverdale community for more than 45 years, SRCHC is committed to working with community members and stakeholders to improve the health, safety and well-being of our neighbourhood. To stay up-to-date with our safety strategies and statements from our Board, please visit our Community Engagement page.

Community Engagement Page

A PATH to Safety Video has Launched

Finding peer or professional support can seem nearly impossible for people experiencing homelessness during pregnancy. That is why the MATCH (Midwifery and Toronto Community Health) Program at SRCHC partnered with the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing at Toronto Metropolitan University and Young Parents No Fixed Address to create A PATH to Safety.

A PATH to Safety is an animated, evidence-based short film that uses a fictional composite hero myth to depict the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness in pregnancy. The film illustrates how marginalization and gaps in our health care system fail to address the needs of this population, leading to vulnerability to drug use, legal problems and social isolation.

The purpose of this film is three-fold:

  1. To be discovered by people who Google “homeless, pregnant, Toronto” so that those with lived and living experience can feel less alone and be linked to high-quality services.
  2. To educate the general public of the challenges, as well as the bravery and strength demonstrated by people experiencing homeless during pregnancy in Toronto.
  3. To be used as an emotionally impactful and scientifically backed knowledge translation tool to influence decision makers and inform future policies.

Watch A PATH to Safety
MATCH Program Information

New research shows rapid-testing and low-barrier of care model provided in Supervised Consumption Sites (SCS) for people who use drugs is key to Hepatitis C elimination

South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) has teamed up with Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and other member organizations of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, to eliminate Hepatitis C in East Toronto.

Staff at SRCHC and researchers from MGH and University Health Network recently published the results of a study to evaluate an innovative model of care to improve Hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing and treatment uptake for people who use drugs. The study has been published in the Lancet Regional Health (Americas).

HCV infection can be cured with sufficient medical treatment. However, significant barriers to care have historically kept treatment uptake low among people who inject drugs, who represent the majority of new HCV cases in Canada.

Through the study, SRCHC successfully offered access to rapid diagnostic testing in its supervised consumption site (SCS) and an ongoing connection to nursing and peer support to initiate treatment if testing was positive.

Since its opening in 2017, SRCHC’s SCS, keepSIX, has reversed over 800 overdoses. On average, it records 675 visits per month. keepSIX is staffed by workers with lived experience of drug use and offers access to a range of primary care and social service programs, including HCV treatment and support from the Toronto Community Hep C Program (TCHCP).

“It was easy access and it was somewhere where I’ve been so I was comfortable and it was easy to get the treatment and follow up. There were lots of support workers there with me, supporting me to get through the treatment. I was aware of this place [SRCHC], I already felt comfortable so I didn’t feel nervous or anything. It’s very helpful here and they’re very respectful and have lots of after-care support to help you through it. There should be more awareness about how to get treatment and have more places to go get treatment other than the hospital,” says Billy, a study participant.

The study was conducted from August 13, 2018 to September 30, 2021 and included 124 keepSIX service users. 52% of participants tested positive for HCV and were offered immediate referral to the co-located Hep C program.

50% of these participants did not know their HCV status prior to the study, indicating the need for rapid, low-barrier testing options available to high-risk groups. Of those who tested positive, 67% were linked to care, of which 67% initiated treatment to cure HCV infection.

“People who use drugs access supervised consumptions services for a number of reasons. They care deeply about their health and wellbeing and are invested in their communities. This research is exciting because it demonstrates the success of a supportive and responsive model of community care and treatment, in large part facilitated by people who have lived with, and successfully cured, hepatitis C,” says Bernadette Lettner, Treatment Nurse with the TCHCP, SRCHC.

The study will help inform ETHP’s work in improving care related to substance use and health for adults and its goal of eliminating HCV in East Toronto.

The study will also help the OHT support the recently launched Ontario Hepatitis C Elimination Roadmap, a collaborative, multi-sector initiative led by hepatitis C experts and with contributions from government, clinicians, community and more.

“Identifying innovative, low-barrier diagnostic strategies that can quickly link clients to HCV care are a critical component of our HCV elimination efforts. To reach the targets set out by the Ontario Hepatitis C Elimination Roadmap, we need to scale programs like this and continue to invest in low-barrier diagnostics in populations at risk, including people who use drugs,” says Dr. Jeff Powis, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at MGH, Medical Lead of Integrated Care at ETHP and Medical Director of Research at TCHCP.

About South Riverdale Community Health Centre

South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) is a non-profit, multi-service organization that provides primary healthcare, social and community outreach services with an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention primarily to people of East Toronto. As a leader in community health, SRCHC services include integrated primary health care, health promotion, harm reduction, environmental health, community food centre and population-based community programs for marginalized peoples. Health equity and inclusion are values that underpin programs and delivery of services. SRCHC is a proud member of East Toronto Health Partners, the Ontario Health Team serving East Toronto.

About Michael Garron Hospital

Nestled in the heart of East Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) is a vibrant community teaching hospital serving more than 400,000 people in 22 distinct neighbourhoods. For more than 90 years, MGH has delivered high-quality, patient-centred healthcare services to families along the continuum of care, from welcoming a new life to facing end-of-life. MGH is a full-service hospital with strong community and research partners, including the University of Toronto. MGH is a proud member of East Toronto Health Partners, the Ontario Health Team serving East Toronto.

About East Toronto Health Partners

East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, is a group of more than 100 community, primary care, home care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto working together to create an integrated system of care across our communities. Collectively, ETHP is responsible for providing care and support to the 300,000 individuals who live in East Toronto communities, as well as an additional 75,000 clients who choose to receive health care in the local area. Clients, family members and caregivers are partners in every aspect of the development of ETHP, working together to improve the way East Toronto residents access and receive care. Visit to learn more.

Additional Client Quotes

Jenny House-Gerow, study participant: “Prior to joining the study, I didn’t know where to turn or who to ask my questions about Hep C. Then I met the study nurse and she was the most helpful person I had ever met in my life and she walked me through it. She told me there was a test and I could get my results back in an hour. Before there was always a stigma – oh you’ve got Hep C and then whispering back and forth in the emergency department.  It was a terrible feeling. I was expecting that again. But this place was really there for me and gave me a helping hand. They gave me knowledge and options about my treatment. There are so many places without services like this – we need to expand harm reduction services. I’ve lost so many friends. People are dying from Hep C because they don’t know there’s that magic little pill that could cure them. Some places are so unaware – there is no education for the people who actively use drugs.”

Dave Valente, study participant: “It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I knew I had Hep C for a long time but I never really did try to get treatment. But here, everyone else was doing it and so I thought – sure! You’ve gotta stick it in people’s faces. It’s kind of still in the background – there has to be more awareness. Knowing where to go is the main problem. It was really easy here and the people helped me out quite a bit. My health is so much better now – night and day.  I feel so much better, I feel great.”

COUNTERfit Community Cleanup – Drug Users Working for Community Safety

Every year, COUNTERfit Harm Reduction Program staff and service users join forces to clean up our South Riverdale neighbourhood. Earth Day (April 22) celebrations have usually been one of key times that we get together to do this work.

Teams of 5 head out, checking green spaces, alleyways and parks, and fill up bags of garbage. We are always looking for used harm reduction equipment – although we rarely find any! This is likely due to the hard work of staff who do daily needle patrols all year long.

Community Cleanups not only make our neighbourhoods safer and cleaner, but they also give us an opportunity to meet our neighbours in the sunshine, promoting the work and values of our program and SRCHC.

Fresh Produce for All

It isn’t news that food prices in Canada have gone up – when comparing this year to last year, grocery store food prices have increased by 10.6%, with fresh vegetables having the highest increase (13.4%). Even before 2023’s skyrocketing food costs, households with restricted budgets were already having to make difficult choices of what food they could (and could not) purchase each month. With less money to spend on essentials, shoppers are left with limited options: processed and low-nutrient foods are cheaper than fresh, culturally-appropriate, and nutritious foods.

Affordable produce markets are a community-based approach to improve access to fresh and nutritious produce. Because they are often grassroots initiatives and resident-led, affordable produce markets tend to pop-up in neighbourhoods where the need is particularly high. The idea is to offer a variety of fresh produce that reflects the community, at a low cost (lower than most retailers), with only enough profit to sustain the market. These kinds of markets serve many purposes: to make fresh, nutritious produce and food accessible at a lower cost; to provide dignified access to high-quality healthy food; to improve physical and emotional well-being; and to create a safe and welcoming space for social connections.

This year there will be two outdoor affordable produce markets for SRCHC clients and community members:

Harmony Good Food Market, in partnership with FoodShare
2 Gower St.
June – end of October
Every Tuesday
3:00-5:00 pm

Outdoor Food Market, in partnership with Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre
947 Queen E. (church courtyard next to South Riverdale CHC at 955 Queen St. E.)
May 2nd – end of September
Every Tuesday
4:00 – 6:30 pm


A PATH to Safety: homelessness and pregnancy

Finding peer support can be very challenging for people experiencing stigma and marginalization. This is especially true for people experiencing challenges during pregnancy. There is so much cultural pressure for pregnancy to be a happy time that it can feel nearly impossible for people experiencing challenges like domestic abuse, instability related to migration, drug use, legal problems, social isolation or homelessness to find peer or even professional supports in the childbearing year. Organizations such as privately funded crisis pregnancy centres often try to fill the gaps, but may provide biased or inaccurate information, furthering the stigma.

Together with Toronto Public Health, the network of frontline providers known as Young People No Fixed Address wanted to find a way to highlight the data that had been collected related to homelessness during pregnancy in Toronto. We also wanted to document the bravery and perseverance of people who risk everything to try to keep themselves and their babies safe – this can often leave them in precarious situations in our city where housing, immigration, and policing systems can punish and even criminalize people who are fleeing violence. We knew that creating a resource that would direct them to publicly funded, evidence-based programs and services would help address the gaps for pregnant people experiencing homelessness.

In 2020, just as the pandemic was having a devastating impact on families dealing with homelessness in the perinatal period, the MATCH (Midwifery and Toronto Community Health) Program at South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) was able to partner with researchers in the School of Nursing at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) who were studying homelessness and pregnancy. We combined quantitative data from Toronto Public Health with the qualitative data from the research conducted at TMU. Then SRCHC and TMU co-funded a partnership with the award-winning animation team at Electric Square to create a fictional composite hero myth that demonstrates the challenges, as well as the strength and bravery of pregnant people experiencing homelessness. The result is a short, animated, evidence-based film that will remain available online to serve as a peer to peer support. The goal is that people who google: “homeless, pregnant, Toronto” may discover through this film that they are not as alone as they thought, and that they deserve and can access high-quality, unbiased supports and services. This short film is an example of using art to transform scientific evidence into a knowledge translation tool that can have an emotional impact, both for people in positions of power (like policy makers) and for people with lived experience of homelessness in pregnancy.


Educational Video Series to Support Unpaid Caregivers

WoodGreen Community Services in collaboration with the Ontario Health Team for East Toronto, East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), released an educational video series to assist unpaid caregivers caring for older adults. The video series is focused on ensuring caregivers get the help they need for their care recipients and themselves. Recognizing how difficult it can be to know where to find support, the videos share information on how caregivers can navigate the complexities of Ontario’s healthcare system.

The series includes 20 videos that share resources available in East Toronto. These videos were created in collaboration with experienced caregivers to ensure that the resources are relevant and. Video topics include:

  • Planning for and managing hospital stays
  • PSW care at home services
  • Housing and right place of care options
  • Legal considerations
  • Available community programs and supports

14 additional videos feature three local caregivers who share their unique personal experiences and advice about being an unpaid caregiver. The videos are currently only available in English. However, they will be translated into additional languages in the near future to increase access and reach of these important resources.

All of the videos can be found on WoodGreen’s website ( and their YouTube channel. ETHP and WoodGreen have also created a written Caregiver Navigation Guide, which includes the transcripts of the videos, links to any resources mentioned, as well as a glossary of terms to define technical words, terms and abbreviations that may require additional clarification.

Managing Chronic Disease 

Did you know that cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes cause about two-thirds of all deaths in Ontario? These are all chronic disease that can significantly impact a person’s health and wellbeing, as well as their day-to-day life.

Although chronic diseases are among the most common health problems in today’s society, some chronic diseases can be more easily prevented and are more easily managed. With the right treatment, support, and lifestyle, people diagnosed with a chronic disease can experience changes in their conditions, and improve their health and quality of life.  Major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis, share common risk factors. Detecting chronic disease early, and intervening quickly to prevent its progress has the potential to reduce deaths. Physical activity, healthy diet, maintaining good blood pressure and managing stress can reduce the risk or help manage chronic diseases.

We at South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) offer Chronic Disease Self-Management Education workshops with our Choose Health Self-Management Program. This evidence-based program helps individuals manage their chronic conditions, improve their quality of life, and lower health risks. The program is facilitated by trained volunteers who are also living with long-term health conditions. Participants meet once a week for 2.5 hours over 6 weeks to learn skills to manage their conditions on day to day basis by setting manageable goals, learning problem-solving skills, starting and maintaining physical activity, managing stress, as well as engaging in relaxation and healthy eating.

We also offer professional development trainings that empower healthcare providers to support clients living with chronic diseases Clinicians will learn communication and rapport-building skills, which can help facilitate conversations about health behaviours with their clients.

To learn more about the Choose Health self-management program, please visit