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Additional warming centres, shelters to be opened after homeless deaths

The city is opening additional shelter spaces and warming centres after the deaths of two homeless men sparked protests and calls for action from Mayor John Tory.

The city will open two 24-hour, extreme weather drop-in centres on Tuesday night, and shelters have been directed to relax any service restrictions.

Additional shelter spaces have also been opened for men and women, and street outreach and transportation services are being increased.

“The death of anyone on the streets of Toronto, any single person ever, is one too many,” Tory said Tuesday.

The moves come hours after a man was found without vital signs at a bus shelter by Yonge and Dundas streets. He later died in hospital.

The man, believed to be in his 40s, was found at the shelter around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

There is no word on the cause of death or if the cold weather was a factor but police say he was only wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

On Monday, another man died after he was found not breathing in a delivery truck at a shipping yard in the city’s west end.

Paramedics were called to the shipping yard at Davenport Road and Wiltshire Avenue, near Lansdowne Avenue, around 9:30 a.m.

The man, in his 60s, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after. Toronto police said he was homeless. It’s not yet clear if the cold weather caused his death.

Some have questioned why the city didn’t issue an extreme cold weather alert. Dr. Howard Shapiro, Toronto Public Health, said one wasn’t warranted.

“Based on our criteria it’s quite clear that it shouldn’t have (been issued). I’m pretty confident that we made the right call.”

The alerts are issued when temperatures plunge to -15 C.

On Tuesday, members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) protested at city hall, saying there are a lack of shelter beds in the city.

 

With files from Carl Hanstke

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