City of Toronto declares Extreme Cold Weather Alert

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Based on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s forecast, the Medical Officer of Health has issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) today for Toronto in anticipation of the cold weather conditions forecasted for the next 24 hours or longer. The ECWA will be in effect until further notice.

ECWAs are issued when temperatures are forecasted to reach -15 degrees Celsius or colder, or when the wind chill is forecasted to reach -20 degrees Celsius or colder. Other weather-related factors may also be considered when issuing an ECWA.

ECWAs are issued to ensure Toronto residents take necessary precautions to stay safe from the cold. They also activate local services that focus on getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside. The City will open its Warming Centres by 7 p.m. today to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness a safe, warm indoor place to rest and access snacks, washroom facilities and referrals to emergency shelter.

The City’s Streets to Homes Program will dispatch additional 24/7 teams to connect with people living outside and encourage them to come indoors. Throughout the winter, outreach staff hands out blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter clothing.

The City’s four Warming Centres are located at:
•       129 Peter St.
•       5800 Yonge St.
•       Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, 195 Princes’ Blvd.
•       Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Dr.

Warming Centres will activate approximately 150 spaces, in addition to the approximately 265 new spaces created through the City’s 2021/2022 Winter Services Plan. Over the past five years, the City has continuously added and maintained new capacity in the shelter system. As a result, the number of beds currently available for individuals experiencing homelessness is at a five-year high. For complete information about this year’s winter plan, visit: www.toronto.ca/community-people/housing-shelter/homeless-help/winter-services-plan-for-people-experiencing-homelessness/.
All services at the Warming Centres will be delivered following ongoing public health recommendations regarding COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the centres. These measures include physical distancing, the mandatory use of masks, hand washing, conducting symptom screening and monitoring, enhanced cleaning procedures, and providing transportation to isolation and recovery sites for individuals that await results or test positive.

ECWAs are one component of the City’s Cold Weather Response Plan, in effect each year between November 15 and April 15. The Cold Weather Response Plan provides a framework for implementing and coordinating cold weather preparedness and response activities which focus on reducing the negative health impacts of cold weather conditions.

Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people experiencing homelessness or those under-housed, those who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart condition or respiratory illness, elderly people, infants and young children.

Information and tips for staying warm during cold weather can be found on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/health-programs-advice/extreme-cold-weather/. Registration for Extreme Cold Weather alert notices is also available on this page.

The City asks residents to contact 311 if they see a person experiencing homelessness in need of assistance and the City will dispatch an outreach team to investigate. If the person is in distress or needs immediate assistance, call 911.

Media tours of Warming Centres are not available due to COVID-19 restrictions. B-roll footage and photos of a Warming Centre are available on the City’s website: www.toronto.ca/home/media-room/video-b-roll-images/warming-centre-b-roll-images/.

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture, and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit www.toronto.ca or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CityofToronto, on Instagram at www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cityofto.

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