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January 28, 2004
Extreme Cold Weather Alert extended through Thursday
  
Toronto's Hostel Services has extended the second extreme cold weather alert of
the 2003/2004 winter season to help get homeless people in from the cold. The
current alert, which began on January 13, has now been extended to include
Wednesday, January 28 and Thursday, January 29.

An alert goes into effect when Environment Canada:
-predicts a temperature of -15 C 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
people:
-100 additional emergency sleeping spaces in Toronto shelters
-enhanced street outreach services, including emergency transportation to
shelters, provided by Anishnawbe Health Toronto, the Canadian Red Cross
Society, Native Men's Residence and St. John Ambulance
-distribution of TTC tickets through drop-in centres and outreach agencies to
help homeless people reach shelters.

The Street Helpline service at 1-866-392-3777 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.

"We've extended the current alert because of the severe weather conditions on
the streets," said Elaine Smyer, Manager, Emergency Planning, Toronto Shelter,
Housing and Support. "We hope that homeless people will continue to use the
additional beds which are added when an alert is called."

A team works throughout the winter to monitor weather conditions on the street.
Team members include representatives from Toronto Shelter, Housing and Support,
Toronto Public Health, Toronto Emergency Medical Services, the Canadian Red
Cross Society, Native Men's Residence, Anishnawbe Health Toronto, St. John
Ambulance, Community Information Toronto, Street Helpline and the Toronto
Police Service.

More information about the cold alert program and Toronto services for homeless
persons is available on the Web at http://www.toronto.ca/coldweatheralert.

Media contacts:
Elaine Smyer, Manager, Emergency Planning, Toronto Shelter, Housing and
Support,
416-397-1384; after hours 416-714-2730
Cynthia Ross, Partnership Development, Toronto Shelter, Housing and Support,
416-392-0546; 416-435-3838



 

 

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