33 deaths in Quebec attributed to heat: health officials

33 deaths in Quebec attributed to heat: health officials
Seven-year-old Samuel Bedard from Quebec City runs through a water fountain as he beats the heat during a heatwave in Montreal, Monday, July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL:  The steamy conditions that have prevailed in Central and Eastern Canada for several days have contributed to 33 deaths in Quebec, health officials said Thursday.

The number includes 18 in Montreal, seven in the Eastern Townships, five in central Quebec, two just south of Montreal and one in Laval, Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, told a news conference.

Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said none of the deaths occurred in a hospital or long-term care facility and that the people who died were already suffering from health problems, including mental-health issues or drug and alcohol addiction.

Dr. Mylene Drouin, the regional director of Montreal’s public health department, said most of the 18 victims in the metropolis were men aged between 53 and 85 who lived in places with no air conditioning.

Drouin said ambulance technicans have been very busy, with the Urgences-sante service receiving more than 1,200 calls in Montreal on Wednesday and having to make 695 trips.

Earlier this week, Urgences-sante asked people to refrain from calling unless it was a real emergency.

Charlebois, meanwhile, was asked about complaints from patients groups and health workers that some facilities are not equipped with air conditioning.

She said the health network has “done everything that is necessary,” considering the dilapidation of some buildings.

Charlebois said even buildings in which air conditioning is not widely available have areas where people can cool off.

“I’m satisfied with the work that has been done to help those who are most vulnerable,” she said.

While the stifling weather has blanketed other parts of the country, no deaths have been reported elsewhere, but that may be because various jurisdictions have different ways of gathering data on heat-related fatalities.