Winter taking heavy toll on people who are homeless, from amputations to freezing to death

From the CBC News article

Health-care practitioners say this is the second difficult winter in a row for those who live outside. Pandemic pressures on an already-stretched shelter system as well as restrictions prohibiting eating — and getting warm — in fast-food restaurants have left many with nowhere to go on cold nights.

Toronto’s shelter system has been full or near capacity for years. This winter, Harrison and others say they have often called the city’s central intake office only to be told no beds are available.

Emergency departments have become ad hoc warming centres, says Dr. Stephen Hwang, a physician and researcher at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at the Unity Health Toronto hospital network. 

He says the network has an outreach worker who calls intake on cold nights in an effort to find spots inside shelters.

“There’s just been not enough space for people,” he says.

The city says it has added 400 new shelter spaces and 165 spots in warming centres this winter. It has also kept warming centres open since Jan. 7, instead of only during extreme cold weather alerts.

Advocates say that’s not enough. 

At least two homeless people have died as a direct result of the cold, although data on the subject is hard to come by.

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