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December 20, 2004
Extreme cold weather alert extended until Tuesday morning
Toronto's Hostel Services has extended the first extreme cold weather alert of
the 2004/2005 season to help get homeless people in from the cold. The current
alert, which began on Sunday, December 19, has now been extended until Tuesday,
December 21 at noon.

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

Under the alert, the following extra services are available to help homeless
  • 107 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, and
  • 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.

"Street outreach workers, City staff and community agencies continue their
efforts to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable citizens during this cold
snap," said Elaine Smyer, Manager, Emergency Planning, Toronto Shelter, Housing
and Support. "By providing additional emergency beds and enhancing our existing
outreach services, we are encouraging people to come inside."

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, Christie
Ossington Neighbourhood Centre, Community Information Toronto, Street Helpline
and the Toronto Police Service.

More information about the cold alert program and Toronto services for homeless
people is available on the Web at eralert.

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



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