Well, the Department of Public Health has escalated its heat advisory program to stage 2: a Heat Warning.
A heat warning is issued when the humidex is expected to reach 40 or greater for more than one day/
Since the risk is more severe, the response is commensurately more ... oh, wait. It's actually still completely ineffectual.
In addition to the free advice on staying cool, it lists some symptoms of heat exhaustion - "heavy sweating, weakness, weak pulse, fainting, vomiting, and cold, pale, clammy skin" - and recommends that you call 911 if you experience them.
This is eerily similar to US President George W. Bush threatening to veto a Congressional attempt to extend health coverage to more low income children by claiming they can always go to the ER.
Doing sweet nothing until people are dangerously ill and then dumping them into emergency triage is a stupid, reactive, wasteful, and inhumane way for a city to respond to a public health emergency.
How high do temperatures have to get before the city decides to get proactive and provide safe, cool places for our most vulnerable citizens? Sorry, but saying "go to the mall" just doesn't cut it.
This ia a failure on the part of Public Health, but at a more basic level, it's a failure of City Council, which after all is ultimately responsible to ensure that programs are in place to deal with municipal issues.
According to the city's three stage heat alert program [PDF], the city's only response at stage two is to issue media notices.
Even at stage three, the Public Health response is:
[Ministry of Health] to convene City Emergency Control Group to consider expected duration of heat alert and tailor response appropriately and to consider the likely contemporaneous issues associated with brown and black outs due to high energy consumption and the impact on City resources.
So once the city is in a stage three heat alert, then it will convene a meeting to "tailor [its] response appropriately"? It's way too late, in the thick of a crisis, to start developing ad hoc plans, especially when the appropriate response strategy is already painfully obvious.
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