Community Advisory Panels (CAPs)

CAPs Terms of Reference



Homelessness is a devastating social problem that affects a large number of people in Toronto. Although the exact number of homeless people living in the city is unknown, approximately 32,000 different people slept in a Toronto homeless shelter in 2002¹. In 2006, about 6,500 individuals stayed in a shelter on any given night². In 1998, the City of Toronto endorsed a declaration acknowledging that homelessness is a national disaster. Homeless people have much poorer health and higher mortality rates than the general population, and often experience difficulties obtaining the health care and social services they need. They are also largely excluded from broad-based government health and census surveys, which often depend on people having an address or telephone number. Even when these surveys reach homeless people, they do not address the unique circumstances and needs of this group. As a result, there is a serious lack of comprehensive information on the health status and needs of homeless people. (The Street Health Report, 2007).

The Community Advisory Panel was created to provide advice to St. Michael’s Hospital which has served the needs of the people of South East Toronto for over 100 years. In 1992 the Hospital reaffirmed its commitment to its community by establishing the Inner City Health Program as one of its three emphasized programs. The Inner City Health goal and mandate is to collaborate with community partners towards improving the health of the population by addressing health determinant issues affecting individuals and communities in South East Toronto. In keeping with the Hospital’s mission and in support of the Inner City Health goal, the Hospital has established a number of population specific advisory panels, including the Homeless and Underhoused Community Advisory Panel, to ensure stakeholder input in the planning, delivery, education and evaluation of services.

1 City of Toronto. 2003. The Toronto Report Card on Homelessness and Housing 2003. Toronto: City of Toronto.
2 Shapcott M. T.O.’s “sheltered” homeless: Up or down? Toronto: The Wellesley Institute.


To act as an advisory body to SMH for the purpose of promoting, advocating and working to ensure an accessible, compassionate, effective, progressive and patient-centred health care continuum for the homeless and underhoused.


In partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital and relevant community partners, the CAP will:

  • Identify patients’ and community needs, resources and concerns related to homelessness.

  • Provide input on how the hospital and its programs respond to these needs and concerns.

  • To provide input and participate in the development to Inner City programs regarding the setting of goals and priorities related to the clinical, educational and research needs of people who are homeless.

  • Develop initiatives to promote effective sensitive respectful accessible hospital care for homeless populations.

  • Advocate in partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital and relevant community partners in support of people who are homeless.

  • Contribute to the enhancement of the knowledge and awareness of staff, physicians and volunteers relative to the needs of clients.

  • Promote community outreach and hospital in reach through the establishment of two way open communication channels between appropriate hospital departments and community agencies.

  • Offer expertise and education to hospital staff.

  • Engage in collaborative advocacy efforts surrounding mutually identified issues of concern.


  • The Panel will participate, renew, receive, review and provide feedback on regular reports from CRICH, Program staff and physicians with respect to clinical, educational and research initiatives concerning homeless populations.

  • Establish working groups as needed to accomplish tasks relevant to the work of the Panel and in support of the Program, who will report to the CAP.

  • Participate in the recruitment hiring process for key positions in the Inner City Health Program.

  • Meet bi-monthly.

  • Receive official and timely responses from the relevant department, VP or President on issues raised by the CAP during the interim or annual report.

  • Advise and give feedback to research and education projects conducted by the hospital.


The Panel will have an informal, open door policy—meetings are open to community agencies, representatives and members who wish to attend.

The Panel will strive to be composed of two thirds community and clients/community members and one third hospital representations.

Membership will be maintained at no more than 40 people total.

Community members will include persons who live or work in the hospital catchment or use the hospital services as a patient, agency, group or organization.

Hospital members will be appointed by the Director, Inner City Health Core Programs and will include key service delivery and administrative personnel involved with the care of homeless populations.

Community and Hospital Membership will be reviewed annually to ensure effective and appropriate representation to address the needs and concerns of homeless populations.


  • Will be a community representative selected by the CAP and the Director.

  • Will serve for a minimum of two years which will be reviewed every two years with a possibility of a renewal.

  • Are responsible for setting agenda for meetings in consultation with CAP members.

  • Will ensure follow up of issues and concerns.

  • Will represent the CAP on the Community Advisory Committee of the Board of Directors as well as other relevant committees.


The Panel will seek to establish consensus on decisions and recommendations. In the absence of consensus, decisions will be a majority vote of a quorum of the Panel. A quorum will consist of 60% of the membership which must reflect two thirds community and one third hospital mix.


The Hospital will provide secretarial support with respect to agenda distribution and minute taking. The Hospital will cover meeting expenses for community members (not agency representatives), such as parking and child care.


An honorarium will be provided to community members.


The ICHP will offer support to CAP members to attend relevant conferences. Funding will be limited with inclusion criteria determined by the CAP Chair and Director, ICHP.