Tory wants to review policy around extreme cold weather alerts
John Tory speaks with reporters on Wednesday. Tory says the Chief Medical Officer of Health should be allowed to issue extreme cold weather alerts before the temperature plunges and puts the vulnerable at risk.
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 7, 2015 2:34PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 7, 2015 2:46PM EST
Mayor John Tory says the Chief Medical Officer of Health should be allowed to issue extreme cold weather alerts before the temperature plunges and puts the vulnerable at risk.
Tory made the comment to reporters on Wednesday, one day after he took the unusual step of asking the city manager to trigger additional services for the homeless without the formal issuing of an extreme cold weather alert.
Tory made the request following the deaths of two homeless people on city streets over a 48-hour period and with the temperature sitting at – 8 C.
An extreme cold weather alert was then formally issued at around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday as the temperature dropped to – 17 C.
“We should be more proactive about this and we should be taking a look at the policy and the protocol to make sure it allows the Chief Medical Officer of Health to be as proactive as possible in protecting people who are vulnerable,” Tory said. “When we are looking ahead at a weather forecast but it has already gotten really cold and there is already a tremendous wind-chill we should be moving to get ahead of it, so that we are not taking the risk.”
An extreme cold weather alert is usually issued when the temperature is -15 C or below, when there are factors that increase the impact of cold weather on health such as wind chill and precipitation, or when there are several days and nights of cold weather in a row.
When an extreme cold weather alert is issued the city opens two 24 hour warming centres, increases shelter capacity and sends outreach workers onto city streets to encourage the homeless to seek shelter.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Tory said he wants to ensure that protecting people is made the “first objective.”
In the interim, Tory said he will continue to order the triggering of additional homeless services whenever he believes the homeless are at risk, regardless of whether an extreme cold weather alert is in effect or not.
“I will not allow these pieces of paper to stand in the way of doing the right thing,” he said.
Last year, there was a record 36 days when the city was under an extreme cold weather alert.
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