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

UPDATE: Several fires burning in Lower Similkameen

At least one fire near Keremeos was caused by lightening

911 jams causes panic among residents

RDOS chair received several calls and texts from panicked residents unable to get through to 911

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

Firefighters respond to roadside brush fire

Fire next to Highway 97 being brought under control.

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Pike Mountain fire continues to grow – quadruples in 24 hours

Fire threatens area consumed in 2017 by a 3,500 hectare blaze

Vernon Knights hire Van Horlick

New head coach of Junior B franchise in Armstrong

Most Read