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Graphic of text saying 619 in blocky stylized digits with cutouts made to look like windows in apartment buildings. In the background is a black and white image of an apartment building.


619 people died in one week as a result of not being able to escape the heat. 


  • 98% died inside. 

  • 91% were disabled.

  • 90% were 60 years of age or older.

  • 61% lived in neighbourhoods that were mostly materially or socially deprived. But it is also important to note that people are also living - and dying -  in poverty in areas that might have a greater mix of incomes. 

  • 56% lived alone.

  • Many had conditions being treated by medications that increase sensitivity to heat.  


People die from heat inside due to lack of access to cooling.

The planet is warming and Canada is warming at approximately double the global rate. Heat is increasingly accompanied by dangerously poor air quality as well as high humidity. This combination makes cooling and air filtration inside our housing an urgent necessity for everyone but especially those at heightened risk. 


Adaptation is essential for human survival and we must not allow access to it to be dependent on a person’s wealth. 


Heating is standard in our buildings. We need cooling to be as well. 


Heat deaths are preventable. We need to act now to stop another mass casualty event. ​

we demand:

1. The provincial government immediately distribute funds to low income households so that at least one room in every home has mechanical cooling. *In order to ensure this is available immediately we recommend the government use existing programs for distribution - such as via benefits, the BC medical equipment program or pharmacare. This is an interim measure to save lives while the province moves to regulating all buildings with the most efficient means of cooling such as heat pumps or other forms of centralized mechanical cooling accompanied by other measures aimed to reduce the need for its use such as green roofs, sun shading, etc.

2. Establish a provincial maximum indoor temperature of 23 degrees. Expand the Residential Tenancy Act to reflect the landlord’s obligation to ensure that all areas of the building have access to cooling and declare cooling a vital service like heating and the provision of hot water. Create and enforce stiff penalties for landlords who attempt to interfere in the installation or operation of air conditioning by a tenant and include maintaining operation of air conditioning under an emergency repair.

3. That municipal government with funding support from the provincial and federal governments, establish 24 hour accessible cooling centers that allow pets, provide meals, have comfortable furniture including beds and privacy screens for any who are waiting for proper housing and/or commuters and others outdoors. Additionally: a. Provide hotel rooms for those whose access needs exceed what is possible in cooling centers. b. #StopTheSweeps: Given that some people credit their survival with their decision to sleep outside during the heat dome, (despite being housed), this adds another reason to stop the street sweeps. c. The real solution is to house people who are unhoused in accessible (which includes cooling) housing immediately. d. Cooling centers are not an appropriate replacement for cooling inside people’s homes and research suggests if used that way they may actually increase risk of heat stroke, particularly among groups with greater heat intolerance. e. Free Transit during heat events. Air conditioned buses on all routes. Free taxis for people needing to be transported to cooling centers.

4. Raise the rates. People on disability benefits and social assistance need the funds necessary to buy supplies to survive, and not be constrained in how they use air conditioning and other life-saving measures based on affordability.

5. Establish and enforce best-practice standards and policy for back-up power sources for housing to prevent mass death due to heat should there be a loss of power. 

6. Mandate all healthcare, (including overdose prevention sites) and congregate care facilities, day cares, schools, and other public buildings to have a maximum temperature of 23 indoors in spring/summer/fall and include air filtration capable of dealing with wildfire smoke and other pollutants as well as airborne viruses.

7. Mandate and enforce maximum temperature of 23 degrees indoors and create stringent rules protecting safety of those who work outdoors during heat, and in conditions where extreme heat is exacerbated.

take action!

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