Eastern Canada Heat Wave Death Toll Climbs to 18 in Quebec Province
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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
The worst heat wave to hit eastern Canada in decades has claimed the lives of 18 people in the past week in Quebec, CBC News reported.
The unusually hot temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s started last Friday. Coupled with high humidity indexes of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), the heat has compounded the suffering, especially for residents living without air-conditioning.
The heat-related death toll in Quebec province rose by eight between Tuesday and Wednesday. Twelve deaths were confirmed in the Montreal area, five in the Eastern Townships and one in Laval, a town northwest of Montreal. Officials there have urged residents to check on their neighbors and loved ones, especially those without access to air conditioning.
"We're doing everything we can," Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante told a news conference on Wednesday. Among the steps the city has taken, she cited opening area swimming pools and air-conditioned buildings to the public, distributing water, and having first responders check on vulnerable citizens.
Montreal First Responders Visiting Residents to Check on How They Are Coping with Heat Wave
Plante said firefighters and police visited 15,000 people on Tuesday to make sure they could cope with the heat. She also urged the public to help. "I'm counting on Montrealers to knock on doors, maybe of a neighbor, just to find out if the person is OK. It's a team effort," Plante said.
David Kaiser, of Montreal's public health department, said those who died did not have air conditioning in their homes and all of them had health issues. Speaking on CBC's The Current, Kaiser said temperatures recorded by paramedics in these cases reached the high 30s C (around 100° F) inside the victims' apartments.
“My thoughts are with the loved ones of those who have died in Quebec during this heat wave,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “The record temperatures are expected to continue in central & eastern Canada, so make sure you know how to protect yourself & your family.”
The heat wave also includes southern Ontario and Atlantic Canada. In Ottawa, the humidex was at 39° C (102° F). Toronto has “bathed in sweltering heat for days,” Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported. However, those jurisdictions have not reported any heat-related deaths.
Heat Levels in Ontario Nursing Home Rise to Dangerous Levels
According to the CBC, the extreme heat at Lanark Lodge, a nursing home in Perth, Ontario, prompted one woman to move her elderly parents to her home in Ottawa until things cool down.
Harold and Helen Davies, both 94, moved into Lanark Lodge just last winter. Their daughter, Ruth Sirman, said she was "stunned" to discover there was no air conditioning in their rooms.
Sirman had hoped to install portable air conditioners in their rooms. But she said she was told the electrical system in the building couldn't handle the load.
Last Thursday, Sirman and her sister got thermometers to monitor the temperatures in her parents’ rooms. Three days later, when the temperature in their Lanark Lodge rooms reached 31.5° C (88.7° F), Sirman drove to Perth to bring her parents and their belongings to her home in Ottawa.
Lanark Lodge opened in 1967 and is operated by Lanark County. The county’s chief accounting officer, Kurt Greaves, said the lodge typically is preoccupied with cold and ensuring that the temperature does not drop below the legislated minimum of 22° C (71.6° F).
Provincial law requires all long-term care facilities in Ontario to have some air-conditioning in common rooms and hallways. But there's no requirement for bedrooms to be air-conditioned, even in new buildings, Jane Meadus told the CBC. Meadus is a lawyer at Toronto's Advocacy Centre for the Elderly.
Greaves told the Globe and Mail that the lodge has been keeping its curtains drawn and is using fans to provide relief for residents. He said, "This is unprecedented heat and I'm sure lots of people are suffering."