A woman cools down in a water fountain as she beats the heat in Montreal, Monday, July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

At least 17 deaths in Quebec attributed to heat

The heat wave continues across Eastern and Central Canada

The sweltering heat and suffocating humidity that have blanketed Eastern and Central Canada have contributed to the deaths of at least 17 people in Quebec over the last few days, health officials said Wednesday.

And with the muggy temperatures expected to persist for at least another two days, authorities are urging people to remain vigilant.

Montreal health officials said there have been 12 heat-related deaths since the weekend, while authorities in the Eastern Townships region east of Montreal are attributing another five deaths to the weather.

RELATED: Heat wave blamed for at least six deaths this week in Canada

Authorities were also investigating a possible 18th heat-related death in the Mauricie region between Montreal and Quebec. The person had complained of the heat and breathing difficulties and died after paramedics had arrived.

Medical officials said, however, that it was unclear whether the person had an underlying health issue that was the main cause of death.

Dr. Melissa Genereux, head of public health in the Eastern Townships, told a news conference the victims are all adults — either seniors or people suffering from chronic illness. The deaths were not concentrated in any specific municipality.

“There are still two days left of particularly hot weather with particularly high humidex levels,” Genereux said. “We’re inviting the population to be vigilant for the next two days — for themselves as well as those close to them.”

Officials across the province advised people to drink plenty of water and check in on neighbours or relatives and, if need be, get them to a place where air conditioning is available.

“It could save a life,” Genereux said.

Environment Canada says a heat warning remains in effect for an area spanning southwestern and northeastern Ontario through southern Quebec and into the Atlantic region, with above normal temperatures and humid conditions likely to stick around into Thursday.

Dr. David Kaiser, physician-manager at Montreal’s public health authority, said officials aren’t surprised by the number of deaths in the metropolis.

“We would prefer having no deaths related to heat but with four days of intense heat and especially hot nights, we expect to see an impact on people’s health,” Kaiser said.

He said the Montreal heat exposure victims were between 50 and 80.

“None of the people we’ve identified in the last four days had air conditioning at home,” Kaiser noted.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted condolences to the relatives of the Quebec victims.

No deaths have been reported in other provinces. In Ontario, a spokeswoman for the coroner’s office said it couldn’t confirm if there were any heat-related deaths, adding it could take weeks or several months to complete such probes.

RELATED: Climate change not one heat wave: scientist

Kaiser said one reason Quebec has been reporting so many deaths is because it’s part of the province’s extreme heat plan, where health officials work in tandem with first responders and emergency rooms to track down potential cases of heat-related illnesses and deaths.

“We go out to the paramedics, we go out to the hospitals and we ask them to make sure to identify any deaths they believe are related to heat and that allows us to intervene more quickly,” Kaiser said.

He cited a case in recent days in which a death in a home for the elderly led authorities to move five other people deemed at risk to a facility equipped with air conditioning.

Police and firefighters also continued to go door to door in areas identified as having people considered at high risk: those with chronic illness or mental-health problems, those who live alone and people without air conditioning at home.

Also on Wednesday, the ambulance service that serves a large swath of the Montreal area called on people to refrain from calling unless it is a real emergency.

Urgences-sante said it has been inundated by the volume of calls — 1,200 calls per day in Montreal and nearby Laval over the past four days, which is 30 per cent more than usual on busy days.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rabbits saved from barn fire in Ponoka County

The Ponoka County East District Fire Department was called to a barn fire

Bashaw peewee club’s season comes to an abrupt end

Players decide not to go into playoffs without one of their teammates

Ponoka man attacked by dogs issues plea to town council

Troubles with bylaw and handling of court case prompts presentation to council

Concerns over town expressed to Ponoka County council

Resident warns county council in collaboration discussions with Town of Ponoka, council notes its own concerns

Ponoka County resident wants $62,000 in lease revenue

County approves revenue to landowner going forward, legal review to look at retroactive funds

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Ponoka host to Bayer Crop Science seed innovations trade show

The company held a trade show with seed crop science industry partners at the ag event centre

Peter Tork, Monkees’ lovable bass-guitar player, dies at 77

Tork, Micky Dolenz, David Jones and Michael Nesmith formed the made-for-television rock band

Lacombe welcomes ‘Napalm Girl’ to discuss journey from hatred to forgiveness

Latest Herr Lecture to feature Kim Phuc Phan Thi at LMC

Millennial men least likely to have a family doctor: Statistics Canada

Report found more women have primary care physicians, compared with men

Alberta to play for gold in wheelchair basketball

Action-packed first week of Canada Winter Games nearly a wrap

Most Read