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December 27, 2000
Extreme Cold Weather Alert Called
  
Toronto Public Health --- Toronto's Medical Officer of Health has
issued an extreme cold weather alert to help get homeless people in from the
cold. The alert is effective for today, Wednesday, December 27 and tomorrow,
Thursday, December 28, 2000. This is the third two-day alert called so far this
December.

An alert goes into effect when Environment Canada:
· predicts a temperature of -15 degrees Celsius or lower, without wind chill;
· issues a windchill 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
people:

· additional emergency sleeping spaces in Toronto hostels/shelters
· increased street patrols by Anishnawbe Health Street Patrol to reach homeless
people
· distribution of TTC tickets through 17 drop-in centres and outreach agencies
to help homeless people reach shelters
· provision of emergency transportation through the Canadian Red Cross for
homeless people trying to reach services/shelters

The STREET Helpline service, 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.

This is the fifth year the extreme cold weather plan has been in place. "It is
a short term emergency response to a serious social problem," said Liz Janzen,
Regional Director with Toronto Public Health.

"It in no way makes up for the desperate need for long term solutions to the
increasing problem of homelessness in our city. However, we hope that by
co-ordinating our resources and temporarily increasing some services we will
avoid the kind of situation in which homeless people can't find space or don't
know where to go for help when it is extremely cold."

Ms. Janzen chairs a designated alert team that meets regularly throughout the
winter to monitor conditions on the street. Team members include
representatives from Toronto Community and Neighbourhood Services - Public
Health and Shelter, Housing and Support Divisions, the Out of the Cold Program,
STREET Helpline, Anishnawbe Street Patrol, Youthlink Innercity, and Toronto
Police.

Members of the public and businesses who want to donate blankets, food and
services, or volunteer their time throughout the winter call the following
numbers for more information:

Money:
United Way of Greater Toronto at 416-777-2001

Clothing:
Chill Out at 416-934-1227

Food:
Daily Bread Food Bank at 416-203-0050

Time:
Community Information at 416-397-INFO


Media Contact
Access Toronto
416-338-0338

 

 

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