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November 24, 2000
City of Toronto's Extreme Cold Weather Alert Plan in Place
The City of Toronto today announced its extreme cold weather plan for the
winter season. This is the fourth year the plan will be in place. Toronto
Public Health monitors weather forecasts daily from November 15 to April 15.

A cold weather alert will be called when Environment Canada predicts a
temperature of -15 degrees Celsius or lower, without windchill, issues a
windchill warning for outdoor activity for people in Toronto; or predicts
extreme weather conditions, such as a blizzard or ice storm.

Under a cold weather alert, extra services are available to help the homeless:

· Additional emergency sleeping spaces in the City's hostels and shelters

· Increased 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 to reach shelters or services

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

To address the critical need for additional beds for single women and couples
the City is working with the Provincial government to open on an urgent basis
120 beds at the former Princess Margaret Hospital site.

"Extreme cold weather alerts are a short term emergency response to a serious
social problem. It in no way makes up for the desperate need for long term
solutions to the increasing homelessness problem in Toronto," said Liz Janzen,
Regional Director, with Toronto Public Health. "We hope by co-ordinating our
resources and temporarily increasing some services we will avoid a situation in
which homeless people can't find space or don't know where to go for help when
it is extremely cold."

A designated alert team of social service agencies and municipal
representatives will meet regularly throughout this winter to co-ordinate the
extreme cold alert program.

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

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

Clothing: Chill Out 416-934-1227

Food: Daily Bread Food Bank 416-203-0050

Out of the Cold call: Community Information Toronto STREET
Helpline 416-397-INFO (416-397-4636)

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