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Heat wave plan ‘barely scratches the surface’ of what is needed: Kelowna MLA

The BC Coroners Service confirmed 619 deaths during the 2021 heat dome
Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield addressing the B.C. Legislature. (B.C. Legislature video)

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield says the provincial government’s plan to protect vulnerable British Columbians during future heat dome incidents falls short.

“The minister of health announced a plan last week that barely scratches the surface of what is required and does it inefficiently and over three years,” she says.

The province will spend $10 million over the next three years to install 8,000 air conditioning units for those with low incomes and those medically vulnerable to heat.

“That’s three more years of waiting for people who desperately need these air conditioners,” adds Merrifield.

She is also calling for programs where social workers, volunteers and community members regularly check in on vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly or disabled, during a heat wave.

“We must engage in public education campaigns about the risks of extreme heat events and how to stay safe. Every citizen should know what to do in the event of a heatwave, and should have access to a cool, safe space when temperatures soar.”

From June 25 to July 1, 2021, an unprecedented heat wave occurred in B.C. and Alberta as well as Washington and Oregon in the U.S.

The BC Coroners Service confirmed 619 deaths during the heat dome.

“While we cannot change what has already happened, we can and must do everything in our power to prevent such a tragedy from happening again,” said Merrifield. “The people of BC deserve better.”

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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