Heat wave leaves 33 dead in Quebec, numbers could rise

By Marina Wang

The death toll from the recent heat wave striking Eastern Canada has now exceeded 30 Canadians. So far, 33 Quebecers have been reported to have died from heat-related health problems, with the death toll from other provinces still unclear.

The heat wave in Eastern Canada began on Saturday, with Ottawa hitting a humidity index of 47 on Canada Day, making the temperature feel more like 41 C. Montreal hit a record 37 C on July 2.

Health officials have said that the deaths were of residents who didn’t have air conditioning and had health issues. Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois urged citizens to reach out to their loved ones to ensure their safety.

Montreal’s emergency services said in a statement that they’ve been receiving 1,200 heat-related calls a day. Montreal’s fire and police departments have visited 20,000 homes ensuring the safety of residents. Quebec health officials have also called the heat wave the worst of its kind in decades.

This week saw heat records being broken across the Northern Hemisphere, with new highs in cities such as Denver Colorado, Glasgow Scotland, Tbilisi Georgia, and Quriyat, Oman. Climate scientists have warned that more extreme heat events like the one this week are to be expected globally in the coming decades.

For Canadians in the mean time, good news is on the way: the temperature is expected to dip to around 24 C come Friday.
“My thoughts are with the loved ones of those who have died in Quebec during this heat wave,” tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “The record temperatures are expected to continue in central & eastern Canada, so make sure you know how to protect yourself & your family.”

The government of Canada has put up a webpage advising residents on how to avoid health risks in the sweltering heat.