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Heat wave: Power outage at Quebec seniors home happening despite pleas for delay

Click to play video: 'Heat wave: West Island seniors celebrate after planned power outage goes off without a hitch'
Heat wave: West Island seniors celebrate after planned power outage goes off without a hitch
WATCH: Beating the heat will be a big challenge for a group of Montreal seniors at the Wellesley retirement residence on Wednesday. Hydro-Québec has planned a power outage in the area to conduct essential work. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, the seniors residence is scrambling to help 100 residents cope with the heat and outrage – Jun 19, 2024

A planned Hydro-Québec outage affecting some 1,600 residents, including a seniors’ home, is going ahead on Wednesday despite pleas to delay amid the extreme heat.

Staff and families from the Wellesley seniors residence in Pointe-Claire, Que., say they are upset and worried for the health and safety of its nearly 150 residents, including some with mobility issues who won’t be able to leave the building to cool down elsewhere.

“I contacted Hydro asking if we could reschedule — seeing the exceptional weather — to another day, another week,” said the residence’s general manager, Voula Kollias. “Monday morning, I called back. They confirmed it would not be changed.”

Despite the pleas to delay, the power outage will go on as scheduled from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., denying the residents with vulnerable health access to air conditioning and electric-powered fans.

Wilma Smith, a Wellesley seniors home resident, sits in the lobby on Tuesday, June 18. A planned Hydro-Québec outage affecting some 1,600 people, including a seniors residence, is going ahead despite pleas to delay amidst extreme heat. Felicia Parrillo, Global News

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Gabrielle Leblanc told Global they rescheduled what they could, but the work set for Wednesday is crucial and can’t be changed.

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“That being said, we added more teams so we can finish earlier than what was planned initially,” she said, adding that the crews will start earlier in the day. “We will start at 7 to make sure to end when the heat reaches its peak.”

Click to play video: '‘Dangerously hot and humid’ weather to hit southern Ontario, Quebec'
‘Dangerously hot and humid’ weather to hit southern Ontario, Quebec

Kollias told Global Hydro-Québec informed the residence on June 10 that they would be among the 1,600 affected by the outage in the area. She says she hoped the work would be postponed once news of the forecast hit.

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She says the care home will be on high alert, planning for shuttle buses to take seniors to cooler places. They also advised family members to consider bringing their loved one home if possible.

“I’ve been speaking to one or two people, and they’re all upset, they’re all scared,” Wellesley resident Wilma Smith said. “Somebody should think, ‘We’ll do it another day.'”

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Anne Pearce, whose father lives at the care home, told Global she thinks the situation is unacceptable.

“I’m sure it’s financial for them, because they’ve set up all their teams. So what? Set it up next Monday. You’re a billion-dollar corporation. Fix it. Don’t make these people suffer.”

The power utility company said it would bring a generator in case the outage lasts past 1 p.m. The residence says it has a generator of its own, but it isn’t strong enough to supply power to the whole building. Only the elevators, main phone line and hallway lights are hooked up.

Officials warn to look out for signs of heat illness

Wednesday will mark the second day of “dangerously hot and humid” weather conditions slamming southern Quebec and Ontario, with daytime highs expected to hit between 30 C and 35 C with humidex values of 40 to 45, according to Environment Canada.

The weather agency issued a warning Monday saying the multi-day heat event is expected to last until Thursday or Friday, adding that there will be “little relief” through the overnight as lows are expected to be 20 C to 23 C with humidex values of 26 to 30.

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Health Matters: New guide for dealing with the health risks from wildfire smoke

Officials say to look out for signs of heat illness such as swelling, rash, cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and the worsening of some health conditions.

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Those more at risk are seniors, infants and young children, pregnant people, people with physical and/or mental illnesses, and people with disabilities or mobility issues. Environment Canada warns you should never leave people, particularly children or pets, inside a parked vehicle.

The alert also said the heat wave could bring deteriorating air quality and could result in the Air Quality Index reaching the high-risk range.

City of Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas told Global that affected citizens can cool down at the city’s nautical centre, library and arena on Wednesday, where water bottles will be handed out. The city will also extend the opening hours of splash pads.

— with files from Gabby Rodrigues, Global News

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