Extreme cold: Advocates say homeless Canadians are at risk

With a cold spell keeping much of Eastern Canada indoors, advocates at homeless shelters are working tirelessly to get homeless people indoors as temperatures drop. dangerously low.

Sheri Lecker, executive director at Halifax’s Adsum women’s and children’s center, told CTV News Channel: “It was really scary and stressful leading up to what we saw was forecast in the province.

In Halifax, temperatures dropped to -25C on Friday, breaking a 52-year record when the city reported -24.4C in 1971. Additionally, Brier Island, Kentville, Port Hawkesbury and Yarmouth all broke records. their own cold weather continent in the region. conscious.

Lecker said community groups have set up shelters for homeless people in hotel rooms and makeshift shelters because many shelters are already packed. However, she said, because Nova Scotians may not be used to these frigid temperatures, many may not realize how dangerous the cold can be and still choose to stay outside for fear of spending time getting ready. God.

“People don’t want to give up the space they’ve created outside to go inside for a night or two in a hotel and then be able to go back to their tent and discover that it’s collapsed or has been hit. steal,” she said. .

In Toronto, wind chill temperatures reached nearly -30 degrees Celsius as Environment Canada placed an extreme cold weather warning for most of the province on February 3. Despite the cold, Steve Doherty, chief executive officer of Toronto, said: Youth Without Shelter, said volunteers had to turn away as their shelter remained compliant with COVID-19 restrictions and quickly filled up.

Steve Doherty told CTV News: “It’s horrible, it’s so hard for my staff every day to turn people down.

Advocates have called for the city to invest in more accessible 24/7 heating centers amid a homeless death on Christmas Day. Extreme cold is known to cause frostbite and hypothermia, according to Environment Canada, rapid heat is not only deadly but also causes cold-related symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle aches and weakness .

Montreal’s shelters are also struggling with demand as the city increases service hours and opens emergency heating centers as the city endures -28 C temperatures on Friday.

Lecker says that while she generally advises against disturbing people experiencing homelessness, if it gets too cold you can ask if they need help or someone can direct them to a somewhere warm or not.

“If it gets too cold, ask them if they’re okay or need anything and if so, make all the calls you need to connect them with what they’re looking for,” she says.

Featuring files from The Canadian Press, CTV News Toronto and CTV News Montreal.

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