It's the first winter for patients and staff at the new Glen site of the McGill University Health Centre and some are complaining that certain areas of the hospital are too cold.

"It was as if there was no heating at all in the basement level," said Carmine Battista.

carmine battista muhc cold

Carmine Battista, who was in the waiting room, said it felt like there was no heating in the basement level at all. He and his wife are expecting their first baby in March. (CBC)

Battista and his wife are expecting their first baby in March.

While in the waiting room, Battista says he didn't take his winter jacket off once, and noticed staff didn't either.

"I saw them dressed up as if they were going to Antarctica," he said.

"It was cold. It was really cold."

Union leaders in charge of health and safety say they've been getting complaints about the indoor temperature for a week now.

Daniel Andrade, who represents workers at the Royal Victoria hospital, said temperatures were as low as 10 degrees in the cafeteria and 4 degrees near the main entrance.

"We have new merchants that rent out spaces now that were serving coffee and sandwiches with winter gloves and hats," Andrade said.

Underground parking lot to blame

The McGill Healthcare Infrastructure Group (MHIG), tasked with resolving the issue, says cold temperatures on level S-1 at the hospital are coming from the underground parking, which doesn't have a garage door.

"[The] problem is compounded by the fact that an ongoing flow of people is using the parking lot to access the hospital from the Vendome metro station," said MHIG spokeswoman Diane Rivard.

plastic draft shield MUHC cold

Workers have been putting up plastic walls in the underground parking lot to prevent the cold draft from coming into the hospital. (CBC)

The group says until a permanent tunnel is built between the Vendome metro station and the hospital, pedestrians have been allowed to access the hospital through the parking lot.

This means "the sliding doors open for longer periods than anticipated," Rivard said, allowing the winter air to come into the hospital as people walk in and out.

As early as Wednesday, workers have been putting up plastic walls to prevent the cold draft from coming into the hospital.

Union leaders say it's a positive sign but wonder why it's taking so long to fix.

"Everything seems to take long," said Manuel Fernandes, the union's VP for health and safety.

"It works like molasses. It just drags and drags."


  • An earlier version of this story identified Diane Rivard as the spokeswoman for SNC-Lavalin, the company that designed and constructed the MUHC. However, in this file, she was speaking on behalf of The McGill Healthcare Infrastructure Group.
    Jan 26, 2016 5:20 PM ET