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January 13, 2004
Extreme cold weather alert called
Toronto Hostel Services has issued the second extreme cold weather alert of the
2003/2004 winter season to help get homeless people in from the cold. The alert
is in effect for Tuesday, January 13 and Wednesday, January 14.

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
  • 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 additional 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

This is the eighth year the extreme cold weather plan has been in place. Last
year, nine alerts totalling 40 days were in effect. "Environment Canada is
predicting extreme cold temperatures for Toronto in the coming days," said
Elaine Smyer of Toronto Shelter, Housing and Support. "Our team is working
together to make sure that homeless people are getting out of the cold weather
and into warmer, more comfortable surroundings."

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.

Media contacts:
Elaine Smyer
Manager, Emergency Planning, Toronto Shelter, Housing & Support
after hours 416-714-2730

Cynthia Ross
Partnership Development, Toronto Shelter, Housing & Support
cell 416-435-3838

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



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