Based on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s forecast, the Medical Officer of Health has issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) today for Toronto in anticipation of the cold weather conditions forecasted for the next 24 hours or longer. The ECWA will be in effect until further notice.
ECWAs are issued when temperatures are forecasted to reach -15 degrees Celsius or colder, or when the wind chill is forecasted to reach -20 degrees Celsius or colder. Other weather-related factors may also be considered when issuing an ECWA.
ECWAs are issued to ensure Toronto residents take necessary precautions to stay safe from the cold. They also activate local services that focus on getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside. The City will open its Warming Centres by 7 p.m. today to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness a safe, warm indoor place to rest and access snacks, washroom facilities and referrals to emergency shelter.
The City’s Streets to Homes Program will dispatch additional 24/7 teams to connect with people living outside and encourage them to come indoors. Throughout the winter, outreach staff hands out blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter clothing.
The City’s four Warming Centres are located at:
Warming Centres will activate approximately 165 spaces, in addition to the approximately 470 new spaces created through the City’s 2021/2022 Winter Services Plan. Over the past five years, the City has continuously added and maintained new capacity in the shelter system. As a result, the number of beds currently available for individuals experiencing homelessness is at a five-year high. Complete information about this year’s winter plan is available on the City’s website.
All services at the Warming Centres will be delivered following ongoing public health recommendations regarding COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the centres. These measures include physical distancing, the mandatory use of masks, hand washing, conducting symptom screening and monitoring, enhanced cleaning procedures, and providing transportation to isolation and recovery sites for individuals that await results or test positive.
Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people experiencing homelessness or those under-housed, those who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart condition or respiratory illness, elderly people, infants and young children.
Information and tips for staying warm during cold weather can be found on the City’s Extreme Cold Weather webpage. Registration for Extreme Cold Weather alert notices is also available on this page.
The City asks residents to contact 311 if they see a person experiencing homelessness in need of assistance and the City will dispatch an outreach team to investigate. If the person is in distress or needs immediate assistance, call 911.
Media tours of Warming Centres are not available due to COVID-19 restrictions. B-roll footage and photos of a Warming Centre are available on the City’s website.
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