Ontario investigating 3 heat-related deaths

A bicyclist cooling off at the water fountain in Yonge Dundas Square in Toronto

That number is small compared to the dozens of potential heat-related deaths in Quebec, where as of Monday, up to 70 people may have died as a result of complications related to the hot weather.

"We are hoping that. all the efforts that are being undertaken through the heat warnings and through the work of the public health agencies will help to ensure that we don't have additional deaths", Dr. Dirk Huyer, chief coroner for Ontario, told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.

The city's public health office says the majority of people who died in the city during the heat wave were over 60, suffered from chronic illnesses, and had no air conditioning. The three deaths being investigated were reported to the coroner within the last four days.

These cases include, for example, the three-year-old boy who was found dead in Burlington, Ont., in May, after apparently being left in an overheated vehicle.

In contrast - and in accordance with provincial laws - the Ontario coroner's office is not notified of deaths that are deemed to be "natural".

"The ones that we do investigate would be deaths that would be more typically accidental, and so they would be situations of heat stroke, when somebody dies from the direct effects of heat". Marie-Claude Lacasse said in an email the medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death.

Those investigations could take weeks to months because investigators need to collect a wide range of evidence.

"And sometimes when the initial tests are done, there may be more tests that may be done from that", Huyer said. With highs in Toronto of up to 35.4 C, Environment Canada said the early-July heat wave was one of the most extreme in years. On Parliament Hill, only 6,000 people turned out for the annual Canada Day lunchtime show as the humidex value at the Ottawa airport reached a record-setting 47 C.

Montreal's morgue became so overcrowded during the heat wave that it partnered with a funeral home, where it sent bodies for storage, according to the CBC.

Throw informed that nearly every day in the morgue receives 15 new bodies, so to fill all 128 seats in the morgue didn't take much time.

Emergency rooms across Ontario were especially busy during the heat wave, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health.

"I'm concerned that as we deal with changing climate, if the frequency of the heat alerts increases and the length and severity of it increases, how will our current system adapt and respond to those extra stresses?"

"We need to take this seriously because these events seem to be happening more frequently", he said.

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