Heat wave now believed to have claimed 53 lives in Montreal, up from 34

Public health officials now believe that 53 people died in Montreal as a result of this month's heat wave, when temperatures soared above 30 C for nine consecutive days.

The city's public health agency says tally based on reports from physicians with Urgences-santé

Montreal's public health agency has now tallied all reports of heat-related deaths from physicians working for Urgences-santé, increasing its original count of 34 to 53. (CBC)

Public health officials now believe that 53 people died in Montreal as a consequence of this month's heat wave, when temperatures soared above 30 C for nine consecutive days.

The city's public health agency had an initial tally of 34 deaths.

The agency had asked physicians with Urgences-santé to notify it of any deaths they thought could be heat-related.

"Last week, we went through all of the deaths that had occurred in the community and were able to identify 19 more that we feel were related to … heat but that we hadn't been notified of in real time," said Dr. David Kaiser of Montreal Public Health. "That's why we have a different number." 

Better targeting those at high risk

Kaiser said investigations will continue in the coming months to see what more could be done in Montreal to prevent heat-related deaths when temperatures soar.

He said the agency has already started looking at how to better target those who are most at risk, "by using the information we gathered in terms of where people, unfortunately, were dying — the types of environments they were in — and using that to better target, for example, the door-to-door visits."

"If there is another heat wave this summer we would be able to, we feel, do better," Kaiser said.
Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, left, and Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois say Quebecers should check in on one another on very hot days. (CBC)

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said as far as he knows to date, there have been no deaths in hospital or long-term care institutions in the province.

"That's good news," said Barrette. 

"The reason for that is quite simple: 93 per cent of all installations are air-conditioned for common spaces, common areas, and that's where people go during the daytime to cool off."

He said the seven per cent of institutions that do not have air-conditioned common spaces are mostly in the Gaspé and on Quebec's North Shore, where heat waves such as that experienced in southern Quebec don't occur.

More hot weather on the way

Hot temperatures are on the way again for the weekend, with projected highs above 30 C for Friday and Saturday.

"Although it's going to be hot, it won't be hot enough for a long enough period that we'll see people dying or having severe health impacts from that temperature," Kaiser said.

Still, Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois reminded Quebecers that they should check up on one other.

"If your parents are alone, or if you know somebody who is alone — a neighbour, your family, a friend — please call them and offer them a space where they can rest for a few hours," Charlebois said.


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