Category Archives: Ontario

Ontario | Torontonians advised to be aware of unsafe open-ice conditions

The City of Toronto reminds residents to stay off natural ice surfaces on open bodies of water because of significant safety concerns for the public and their pets.

With seasonably cold temperatures this week and predicted warmer temperatures this weekend, Toronto Police Service Marine Unit and Toronto Water have advised that ice on open water and on stormwater management ponds in Toronto is unstable and never truly safe.

Road salt can make its way into Toronto’s rivers, streams and ponds, as well as in Lake Ontario along the waterfront, which increases the instability of ice. Storm water also drains into retention ponds, many of which are located in parks, including High Park’s Grenadier Pond. Additionally, water levels in retention ponds can fluctuate, causing unsafe ice conditions despite cold weather.

The City of Toronto provides many safe skating opportunities for residents and visitors, including artificial outdoor ice rinks and arenas. For the nearest location in their community, residents can call 311, or check their local FUN Guide, or visit the web page at toronto.ca/skate.

Ontario | Toronto – Extreme Cold Weather Alert – seek shelter, check on loved ones

Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, has issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert today for Toronto that will be in effect until further notice.

Exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 35°C and can have severe consequences, including organ failure and death. Frostnip and frostbite can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes.

During extreme cold weather, residents are encouraged to call or visit vulnerable friends, neighbours and family to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties related to the weather. Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart conditions or respiratory illness, those taking certain medications, infants and young children, and those who are homeless. People with heart problems can experience worsening of their condition up to several days after cold weather occurs.

This alert triggers cold weather services for homeless people, including two 24-hour drop-ins, additional shelter beds, TTC tokens for people to get to shelter, increased street outreach, and a direction to shelters to relax any service restrictions in place.

During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, members of the public are encouraged to take the following precautions:
• Dress in layers, making sure your outer layer is windproof, and cover exposed skin.
• Wear a hat, warm mittens or gloves, and warm boots.
• Stay dry. Your risk of hypothermia is much greater if you are wet.
• Choose wool or synthetic fabrics for your clothes instead of cotton, because cotton stops keeping you warm once it gets wet.
• Seek shelter if you normally spend long periods outside. Depending on the wind chill, exposed skin can freeze in minutes.
• Avoid alcohol as it increases blood flow. You may feel warm even though you are losing body heat.
• Consider rescheduling outdoor activities, or limiting time outdoors, especially if it’s windy.
• Heat your home to at least 21ºC if babies or elderly people are present.

If you see someone on the street who needs outreach assistance – which may include a shelter bed due to the cold temperatures – call 311. For medical emergencies, call 911.

More information and tips to staying warm during Extreme Cold Weather Alerts are available at toronto.ca/health.

Ontario | Toronto continues to update emergency response planning since 2013 ice storm

December 21 and 22 marked the anniversary of the 2013 ice storm, an extreme winter storm that produced freezing rain, ice pellets and severe wind. The storm, which at one point affected almost one million Torontonians, resulted in widespread power outages, damaged properties, a devastated tree canopy and disrupted municipal services.

Since the storm, the City of Toronto has made significant enhancements to its emergency response plans and has been working with its agencies and external partners to ensure that Toronto is prepared for severe weather emergencies in the future.

The following is an update on the progress the City has made based on the recommendations from the independent review and the Council reports on the 2013 ice storm.

City of Toronto’s Emergency Plan

The City’s Emergency Plan has been updated and reflects the improvements City divisions have made to their processes and procedures based on the experience gained from the severe weather events in 2013, including the December’s ice storm and the July 2013 rain storm.The City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has also made a number of updates to various Emergency Support Function Plans addressing how key functional areas, such as solid waste management, transportation services, paramedic services and communications operate during an emergency.

More information about the City’s Emergency Plan is available at http://bit.ly/1GPPKwQ.

Emergency reception centres

The OEM in co-ordination with Parks, Forestry and Recreation has identified four City-owned recreation facilities, one in each district, to be used as pre-planned emergency reception centres.

In the event of an emergency, the four emergency reception centres will provide evacuees with emergency food and clothing, temporary emergency shelter/lodgings, urgent personal supplies, health care support, social services supports, assistance with service animals and pets, and information and referrals if needed. The emergency reception centres will also offer integrated assistance for vulnerable populations. Translation services will be provided if required.

The four identified facilities will be capable of providing full lodging services. The equipment needed for the emergency reception centres will be stored onsite to ensure that in the event of an emergency, staff will have the ability to quickly and efficiently set up the emergency reception centres when needed. These reception centres will have access to backup power during an emergency.

Locations of the four pre-identified emergency reception centres:

  • East – Agincourt Recreation Centre
  • South – Wellesley Recreation Centre
  • North – Edithvale Recreation Centre
  • West – Thistletown Recreation Centre

 

The City has developed manuals, and policies and procedures to assist staff who are trained to open of emergency reception centres in the event of an emergency.

In larger scale emergencies, the City will have the capacity to open additional reception centres.

Warming centres

In addition to the emergency reception centres, during an emergency and depending on the time of year, the City will have the ability to open warming centres or cooling centres. Specific facilities would be identified at the time of the emergency, based on the location(s) of affected residents. Facilities that would be identified as possible warming or cooling centres include City-owned community centres, police stations, libraries and schools. The warming or cooling centres would be drop-in only and would be staffed by the City and the Canadian Red Cross.

Emergency Social Services Working Group

The Emergency Social Services Working Group has been established, with approved terms of reference to improve and increase vulnerable residents access to City services during an emergency.

The Emergency Social Services Working Group includes staff representatives from 13 City divisions and two City agencies:

· Children’s Services

· Employment and Social Services

· Human Resources

· Long-Term Care Homes and Services

· Municipal Licensing & Standards

· Office of Emergency Management

· Parks, Forestry and Recreation

· Toronto Public Health

· Shelter, Support and Housing Administration

· Social Development, Finance & Administration

· Toronto Paramedic Services

· Toronto Office of Partnerships

· 311 Toronto

· Toronto Public Library

· Toronto Community Housing

The working group is currently focusing on the July 2014 Council direction with respect to improving working relationships with the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network and other community based agencies to better assist the city’s vulnerable populations. In 2015, the working group will look to further these partnerships and a broader survey is planned for next year to better understand the responsibilities of these community agencies and their services during an emergency.

City of Toronto and Canadian Red Cross Memorandum of Understanding

In May 2014, the City signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Red Cross. The Red Cross has agreed to assist the City with providing emergency social services to residents who may become displaced during an emergency.

Toronto Hydro

In March, the City of Toronto and Toronto Hydro conducted an independent review to assess Toronto Hydro’s response to the 2013 ice storm. The report from the independent review is available at http://bitly.com/1pLKtCC

The City and Toronto Hydro are working together to assess and review a number of recommendations from the July 2014 Council decision, including examining current line clearing programs to effectively manage the potential impact of trees in close proximity to hydro lines, reviewing the possibility of construction of underground powerlines in new development areas, and identifying potential conversion of overhead lines to underground lines where possible.

Toronto Hydro has also created a new power outage section on Toronto Hydro’s website along with a mobile application. The web has an enhanced section on outage information; report an outage online forms and emergency preparedness. The site also includes an emergency preparedness guide translated in to Chinese, Spanish, Somali, Tamil and Urdu.

Toronto Hydro will report back to City Council in June 2015 on its implementation plans based on the independent review panel’s recommendations.

Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Urban Forestry is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 4.1 million trees located on streets, in parklands and in ravines and other natural areas. The significant accumulation of ice that occurred on trees during the 2013 winter storm that occurred in the evening of December 21 and the next day resulted in unprecedented damage to trees.

Urban Forestry’s response to the ice storm unfolded in three phases:

– initial response in co-operation with Toronto Hydro to remove trees and tree limbs that were affecting power lines, blocking roads, or posed a safety concern;

– Hazard Abatement, which included tree inspections and prioritized work to make trees safe and eliminate hazards, and

– Hidden Hazard Cleanup which was completed in November and included a detailed assessment of the structural integrity of street trees and select trees in parklands to identity hidden tree hazards. Structurally compromised trees were addressed and expedited tree maintenance was conducted. Non-emergency tree work is scheduled to be completed through Urban Forestry’s area maintenance program.

Data has been collected and is currently being analyzed to confirm the impact of the storm and for the purpose of planning long term recovery of the urban forest.

Urban Forestry is currently working with Toronto Hydro to review line clearing programs and identify opportunities to enhance co-ordination of activities to manage the potential impact of trees in close proximity to power lines. Urban Forestry is also working to improve co-ordination and communication during emergency situations.

Solid Waste Management Services

The city-wide cleanup operation after the ice storm was led by Solid Waste Management Services. It involved co-ordinating a multi-divisional team and a variety of external contracted services, that worked together to quickly restore mobility and safety to city streets and parks.

Since the ice storm, Solid Waste Management Services and the OEM have developed an Emergency Support Function to clearly outline the management of debris caused by an emergency. Under this Emergency Support Function, Solid Waste Management Services will work with other City divisions to expedite debris cleanup, and to restore and resume services quickly after an emergency.

Transportation Services

Transportation Services has established criteria to determine Toronto’s highest priority intersections during an emergency. The division has identified 85 of the city’s highest priority traffic control signal locations and has been working in coordination with Toronto Police Services on the development of emergency response protocols to ensure that police officers are available to direct and control the city’s highest priority traffic intersections during an emergency.

Transportation Services has started to install reflectors on traffic signals to ensure better visibility during a power outage.

311 Toronto

Staff are in the final stages of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding between 311 Toronto and Toronto Hydro that will integrate a two-way communication system between 311 Toronto and Toronto Hydro’s call centre.

311 Toronto has also developed an online outage reporting strategy to enable 311 Toronto to log outage reports for customers.

Council reports

A number of reports on the City and its agencies emergency response by the City and its agenices to the December ice storm have been considered by City Council in 2014, including:

Ontario | Toronto – Extreme Cold Alert – seek shelter, check on loved ones

Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, has issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert today for Toronto that will be in effect until further notice.

Exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 35°C and can have severe consequences, including organ failure and death. Frostnip and frostbite can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes.

During extreme cold weather, residents are encouraged to call or visit vulnerable friends, neighbours and family to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties related to the weather. Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart conditions or respiratory illness, those taking certain medications, infants and young children, and those who are homeless. People with heart problems can experience worsening of their condition up to several days after cold weather occurs.

During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, members of the public are encouraged to take the following precautions;
• Dress in layers, making sure your outer layer is windproof, and cover exposed skin.
• Wear a hat, warm mittens or gloves, and warm boots.
• Stay dry. Your risk of hypothermia is much greater if you are wet.
• Choose wool or synthetic fabrics for your clothes instead of cotton, because cotton stops keeping you warm once it gets wet.
• Seek shelter if you normally spend long periods outside. Depending on the wind chill, exposed skin can freeze in minutes.
• Avoid alcohol as it increases blood flow. You may feel warm even though you are losing body heat.
• Consider rescheduling outdoor activities, or limiting time outdoors, especially if it’s windy.
• Heat your home to at least 21ºC if babies or elderly people are present.

If you see someone on the street that needs outreach assistance – which may include a shelter bed due to the cold temperatures, call 311. For medical emergencies, call 911.

More information and tips to staying warm during Extreme Cold Weather Alerts are available at toronto.ca/health.

Ontario | Toronto – New TTC emergency alarm campaign

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Toronto Paramedic Services Chief Paul Raftis joined Toronto Police, Toronto Fire and TTC staff to launch a new awareness campaign “Press for Emergencies Only”.

This campaign will help subway riders understand that pressing the passenger Emergency Alarm is like calling 9-1-1 for a paramedics, a police officer, or a firefighter.

The Emergency Alarm is a long yellow bar located above the windows of a subway train, along the wheelchair positions and at each end of the subway cars, as well as near the doors of the Toronto Rocket trains.

The Emergency Alarm should be used if a customer needs paramedic, police or fire services.

When the Emergency Alarm is activated, the train proceeds to the next station. Transit Control is made aware of the alarm and notifies 9-1-1.

Whenever an Emergency Alarm is activated, service on the subway will be delayed anywhere from two to 20 minutes, depending on the nature or urgency of the incident.

Designated Waiting Area (DWA)

Customers who feel unwell on a train should get off the train at the next station and use the intercom at the Designated Waiting Area on the platform.  The Station Collector will dispatch help as required.

Designated Waiting Areas are located on all station platforms. The DWA is equipped with intercom access to the station collector, benches, railing, enhanced lighting, CCTV cameras and a payphone.

Intercoms are located in Designated Waiting Areas, in elevator cabs, at elevator landings and at entrances not staffed by Station Collectors. They let you talk directly to the Station Collector.

Ontario | Mandatory carbon monoxide alarms protect everyone

The City of Ottawa wants to remind all residents that, just like smoke alarms, working carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are now mandatory for all homes in Ontario.

On October 14 the Province of Ontario announced that the Ontario Fire Code now makes it mandatory to have CO alarms in most residential properties. Any residential property with a gas-fired appliance or attached garage must have an alarm. These must be installed near all sleeping areas in residential homes and in the service rooms, and adjacent sleeping areas in multi-residential units.

It also declared the first week of November as Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. Owners of properties with six or fewer residences have six months to comply and those with more than six residential units have one year to comply.

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms should be tested at least once a month and replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When you change your clocks this weekend, also change the batteries in all your household alarms and emergency kits.

If the audible trouble signal sounds on your alarm:

  • Check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it.
  • If it still sounds, or you suspect CO in your home, have everyone in the home exit to the outdoors and then call 9-1-1.
  • Remain at the fresh air location until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Find out more on carbon monoxide safety at http://ottawa.ca/fire

Ontario | Taking additional measures to protect the public and healthcare workers from Ebola

Ontario is taking action to enhance the province’s readiness to contain and treat any potential case of Ebola in the province. These measures will further protect the safety of all Ontarians, including health care workers.  

The new measures include:

  • Asking Ontario’s Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health to issue a directive to hospitals and other acute care settings about new personal protective equipment and training requirements as well as enhanced procedures for containing and treating Ebola.
  • Designating Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Hamilton Health Sciences, Health Sciences North, Hospital for Sick Children, Kingston General Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital, and University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital as the referral hospitals to treat confirmed cases of Ebola.
  • Enhancing the province’s inventory and availability of personal protective equipment, including ensuring the availability of N95 protective respirators.
  • Testing Ebola specimens at Public Health Ontario’s provincial labs starting on Monday October 20, 2014.
  • Creating a formal Minister’s Advisory Table on Ebola Preparedness which will include frontline workers and health care providers, and which will meet regularly to provide ongoing advice to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Creating an Ebola Command Table which will be chaired by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and which will include the Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Deputy Minister, Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Labour and other partner ministries and representatives from the province’s LHINs and designated referral hospitals, among others.
  • Assigning appropriately outfitted ambulances to transport potential cases of Ebola to the designated hospitals for treatment.

These measures were developed with guidance from specialists in workplace health and safety in a health care setting.

The province continues to work closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and our provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure Canada’s preparedness.

Ontario’s experience and lessons learned from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic resulted in our health care facilities developing sophisticated infection control systems and procedures to protect health care providers, patients and all Ontarians. This included creating Public Health Ontario to provide scientific and technical support for infection prevention and control, disease surveillance, epidemiology and emergency preparedness.

Quick Facts

  • A total of ten Ontario patients have been tested for possible Ebola infection, and all of these patients have tested negative. There are no confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease in Ontario.
  • The current Ebola outbreak, which began in West Africa in March 2014, is unprecedented with growing international concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Ebola a public health emergency of international concern on August 8, 2014.
  • The former Chief Medical Officer of Health notified the health system to the risk posed by Ebola in West Africa in the spring. Guidance for health care workers was posted on Public Health Ontario’s website on April 9, 2014 and continues to be updated and strengthened on a regular basis.
  • Memos from the Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health have been issued to the health system to alert health workers and health sector employers to the latest guidance on appropriate occupational health and safety, infection prevention and control measures, and laboratory testing protocols.

Ontario | Patient at The Ottawa Hospital under investigation for Ebola virus disease

A patient at The Ottawa Hospital’s General Campus is undergoing tests for the Ebola virus disease. The patient, who had recently visited a West African country where Ebola has been reported, arrived at the hospital yesterday. In keeping with recommended infection prevention and control practices, the patient was immediately placed in isolation until the source of the illness can be identified. 

To protect patient confidentiality, no information about the patient’s age or gender can be disclosed. The patient is currently doing well and is being kept at The Ottawa Hospital’s General Campus for observation. Specimens from the patient have been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for testing, with results expected by later today.

“All necessary precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of other patients, visitors and hospital staff. Strict infection prevention and control measures in Ontario hospitals means the risk of Ebola to other patients and health care workers is minimal,” said Dr. Jonathan Angel, Infectious Disease Specialist at The Ottawa Hospital.

“It’s important for the public to know that Ebola virus disease spreads only through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. It is not an airborne infection and cannot be spread through casual contact,” said Dr. Isra Levy, Medical Officer of Health. “This patient under investigation for possible Ebola virus disease has demonstrated that the processes that have been put in place by local hospitals, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), and other public health agencies including Ottawa Public Health are being followed.”

Ebola virus disease is a severe disease that causes haemorrhagic fever in humans and animals. In its late stages, this serious viral infection can cause internal and external bleeding which can lead to death. The current outbreak of Ebola is located in West African countries. To date, there have not been any documented cases of Ebola in Canada

For additional information on Ebola visit the following websites:

Further updates will be provided as they become available.

Additional information about Ebola virus disease is available at OttawaPublicHealth.ca or by calling Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.  You can also connect with Ottawa Public Health on Facebook and Twitter (@ottawahealth).

BC/ON | Fire personnel from Ontario head to British Columbia

Due to an elevated wildfire risk in British Columbia, the Wildfire Management Branch has requested the assistance of 21 out-of-province personnel to aid with fire suppression efforts.

“Because of this extended stretch of hot and dry weather, we’re asking for additional assistance from Ontario. I’d also like to remind British Columbians to be extra vigilant while enjoying the outdoors this weekend and to fully extinguish any campfires before leaving them,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Hot and dry weather conditions are expected throughout the province this weekend, with a potential for thunderstorm activity to bring dry lightning to southwestern B.C. With this forecast in mind, fire officials are preparing for a potentially significant increase in fire activity.

One Incident Management Team from Ontario and other specialized personnel will be arriving in B.C. on Sunday, July 13, 2014. They will initially be stationed in Kamloops and deployed elsewhere as determined by current fire activity and projected need. Firefighting crews will be on standby in all six of B.C.’s fire centres in preparation for an anticipated increase in fire starts.

Fire danger ratings in the province are currently “moderate” to “high”, with many pockets of “extreme”. The forecasted drying trend will increase this fire danger rating, making forest fuels very receptive to ignition.

While there are currently no provincial campfire prohibitions in effect, the public is asked to take precautions when lighting fires of any size. Anyone lighting a campfire must maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris from around the campfire area and must have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish the fire. Please make sure your campfire is kept small, safe and supervised at all times.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

You can also follow the latest wildfire news on:

Ontario | Flood warning – Fort Frances District

The Ministry of Natural Resources – Fort Frances District is reminding area residents that the Flood Warning is in still effect for the Atikokan, Fort Frances, and Rainy River areas.

Recent rainfall has resulted in very high inflow conditions throughout all watersheds within the District, including the Seine River, Atikokan River, Rainy Lake, and Lake of the Woods. Water levels in Rainy Lake and the Rainy River are expected to rise and the weather forecast is showing the potential for further rainfall accumulations for the area. Given the volume of water upstream in the system further impacts are likely. MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions.

Public Safety
Extreme caution is advised:
Around any fast moving creeks and rivers;
On area lakes due to the potential for submerged hazards and floating debris; and
On all forest access roads due to the potential for water on roads, washouts and heavy rutting.

The public should avoid travelling on unfamiliar roads or crossing any submerged roads as there may be a risk to traveler safety. Barricades are erected at roads where known washouts or dangerous driving conditions have been observed. The MNR, Resolute Forest Products and Rainy Lake Tribal Resource Management Inc. are monitoring forest resource access roads in the area to identify hazards.

Dams and Waterways

On controlled water systems within the District, MNR is currently managing water control structures, in partnership with operators, to mitigate impacts and minimize flows into Rainy Lake. We share information and monitor current water levels on non-MNR controlled systems through interaction with the International Rainy – Lake of the Woods Watershed Board.

Protection of Infrastructure and Emergency Assistance

MNR is ready to respond to protect and repair crown roads, bridges and infrastructure impacted by flooding. We are also working closely with Unincorporated, First Nations, and Municipal Emergency response partners to provide information/ assistance and resources as we are able. To date MNR has provided personnel and resources (including over 75,000 sandbags) to unincorporated area fire departments, Municipalities and First Nations communities.

Individual property owners are encouraged to continue to purchase sand bags from local suppliers to protect their shoreline property, or contact their local fire department or emergency response organizations where local supplies have been exhausted and where an emergency situation is imminent.

Shoreline structures (e.g. sheds, pumphouses, boathouses, saunas etc) are often used as storage facilities for substances that may be harmful to the lake. Residents should remove any potential contaminants (e.g. gas, oil, pesticides, chemicals etc) from these areas and take measures to ensure they do not contaminate the lake ecosystem.

Weather Situation/Forecast

An active low pressure system in northwest Ontario brought with it rainfall amounts ranging from 10 mm – 170 + mm throughout the Rainy River / Fort Frances / Atikokan areas between June 11 -16th. Rainfall is expected to begin later today, and continue for the next few days;  rainfall amounts of 20 – 40 mm (cumulative) are expected.

Further updates will be issued as appropriate. Listen to local media for updates or call 511 for road closure information.

Resources

The latest information lake levels, dam settings, and basin flows can be found online at

http://www.ijc.org/en_/RLWWB