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January 19, 2004
Extreme Cold Weather Alert extended through Tuesday
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
Monday, January 19 and Tuesday, January 20, 2004.

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 , Red Cross, 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.

"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 use the shelter system."

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 lert.

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,

Rosemary Bennett,
Manager, Communication, Toronto Community and Neighbourhood Services, 416-392-8386; pager 416-328-4402



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