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February 12, 2003
Extreme cold weather alert
Toronto Community and Neighbourhood Services --- Toronto's Director of Hostel
Services has issued the sixth extreme cold weather alert of the 2002/2003
winter season to help get homeless people in from the cold. The alert is in
effect for five nights - from Wednesday, February 12 through to the morning of
Monday, February 17.

An alert goes into effect when Environment Canada:
*predicts a temperature of -15 degrees Celsius or lower, without wind chill
*issues a wind chill warning for outdoor activity for people in the Toronto area
*predicts extreme weather conditions, such as a blizzard or ice storm.

Under the alert the following extra services are available to help homeless
*88 additional emergency sleeping spaces in Toronto hostels/shelters
*increased street patrols by Anishnawbe Health Street Patrol to reach homeless
*distribution of TTC tickets through drop-in centres and outreach agencies to
help homeless people reach shelters
*emergency transportation through the Canadian Red Cross for homeless people
trying to reach services/shelters.

The STREET Helpline service at 416-392-3777, also operates 24 hours a day to
let homeless people and front-line workers know where to find shelter and other
services. Members of the public can also call this number if they see a
homeless person sleeping outside.

"Environment Canada has predicted extreme cold for the next five days and we
are concerned about people sleeping outside," said John Jagt, Director of
Hostel Services with Toronto Shelter, Housing and Support. "More people are
using the additional emergency beds during the alerts which shows the outreach
is working, and we are continuing our efforts to encourage people to use the

Members of the cold alert team include representatives from Toronto Shelter,
Housing and Support, Toronto Public Health, Emergency Medical Services, the Out
of the Cold Program, STREET Helpline, Anishnawbe Street Patrol, Youthlink
Innercity, the Canadian Red Cross and Toronto Police Services.

More information about the cold alert program and Toronto services for homeless
persons is available on the web at

Media Contact
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