Province launches new initiative to protect people during extreme heat emergencies

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June 27th, 2023 – BC Government News

People in B.C., especially those most at risk of health impacts from extreme heat emergencies, will be better protected as the Province expands access to air conditioners for people who are medically vulnerable and have low incomes.

This builds on B.C.’s work to strengthen heat response and health emergency supports throughout British Columbia.

“We know extreme heat emergencies can cause significant health challenges for vulnerable people and that’s why we’ve taken steps so B.C. and our health-care system are better prepared,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We’re ensuring more people have the tools and supports they need to stay safe during extraordinary heat events. As well, we’re making record investments to our ambulance services and team-based primary care to strengthen our health system.”

The Province is providing $10 million for BC Hydro to expand its Energy Conservation Assistance Program to include free, publicly funded portable air conditioners (AC), meaning more people who are the most vulnerable during extreme heat emergencies will have access to more cooling options to stay safe.

Because of this investment, B.C. Hydro expects to install 8,000 air-conditioning units over the next three years for people who have low incomes and are medically vulnerable to heat.

The Province also created the Extreme Heat Preparedness Guide, which helps people prepare their residences for extreme heat and provides advice about how to stay safe when temperatures rise. The guide is available in French, Punjabi, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese and was created in partnership with the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“We know that some people are disproportionately affected by extreme temperatures,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “That’s why we’re taking steps to ensure that our province’s most vulnerable people are protected. These proactive measures announced today enhance our capacity to support and care for people during extreme heat emergencies, further strengthening our resilience in the face of climate change.”

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