As temperatures plummet across Canada, shelters in Atlantic Canada are working to protect some of the region’s most vulnerable populations; those with no place to call home.
While other may be able to stay inside or bundle up, it’s the next few months that are the most dangerous to those who have no place to call home.
Patti Melanson, the nurse team leader with Halifax’s Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH), said the majority of shelters in Halifax follow daily schedules where the doors typically close during the morning until the evening.
But during extreme weather events, the response is different.
“Across the country, from a national perspective, most major cities create spaces that are what they call ‘warming spaces’ or extreme weather centres,” said Melanson.
When certain weather criteria is reached, the shelters that are normally operating near 100 per cent capacity are pushed to the limit.
That makes the ability to open up emergency a warming centre inside St. Matthew’s United Church paramount.
“We use the guidelines that have been set for us by Public Health and those are based on Environment Canada guidelines around extreme weather events. So, the two that we use for winter are temperatures -15 C and that includes wind chill. Or, snowfall of up to greater than 25 centimetres,” Melanson said.
WATCH: Environment Canada issues extreme cold warnings across Canada
According to Warren Maddox of the St. John House for men in Fredericton, N.B., their shelter never closes.
“You just sort of deal with it as best you can,” said Maddox.
“It’s critical that you have this service that enables people a chance to be somewhere where it’s warm and safe and stable.”