The heat this summer can do more deaths than the COVID-19 among the homeless.
It is, in any case, the haunting to the CEO of Welcome hall Mission, Sam Watts, who retains the memory of a heatwave which had several dead bodies in the street there is a ten years.
“It is necessary that everyone be vigilant, as when there is extreme cold in the winter. You should not hesitate to call Emergency health when you see someone who doesn’t seem to go well”, he insisted, while the mercury is high and the humidity will be felt in Montreal until Tuesday.
Until now, the heat wave that is sweeping over the metropolis was not of deaths among the homeless, to the knowledge of Mr. Watts.
On the ground
It must be said that the shelters and the emergency services have a plan in place for this kind of situation. All agencies combined, it is about one sixty of street workers who patrol Montreal each day from the start of the heat wave to give water bottles to homeless people outside, according to Mr. Watts.
These individuals also have the delicate task of convincing people intoxicated, who often have no awareness of the extreme heat, go inside.
“In a sense, the situation of the COVID complicates things as the day centres are closed and that it can thus accommodate less people. But at the same time, with the resources of emergency put in place by the City to the pandemic, it has no place for the evening,” said Émilie Fortier, director of services at the Old Brewery Mission.
Since the beginning of the crisis in the coronavirus, they are about 300 more people that can be housed each night in Montreal because of these emergency resources. According to Ms. Fortier, it is evidence that shelters are permanent, like his, were desperately short of means over the years.
However, the state of emergency can be renewed indefinitely, and these emergency resources will sooner or later close their doors.
The worst is still to come
Both at the Old Brewery Mission at the Mission Bon Accueil, it is anticipated that future heat waves will be more difficult to manage in this context.
“We do not expect that our resources are returned to normal by September or October,” said Émilie Fortier.
At the same time, the homeless population will definitely increase after the 1st of July. This is the case every summer, but this year, it will be most possibly worse due to the economic situation.
“In our food banks, we are seeing a lot of people that we had never seen before. There are people in extremely tenuous situation that will be asked at the end of the month: “what do we pay our rent or our food?”” has shown Sam Watts.
In the Face of these enormous challenges, the president and CEO of the Mission Bon Accueil would not be surprised that the next heat waves cause more damage in the street that the COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, although it is also concerned with the impacts of a potential second wave.
So far, only 21 homeless were officially affected by the COVID-19 on the 700 tests conducted with this population, said Mr. Watts.