Montreal homeless especially vulnerable when the mercury drops, experts say

Canada Health

With the wind chill, the temperature verged on -35 degrees Saturday, a temperature that can easily trigger frostbite.

Most Montrealers have developed a keen sense of avoiding the cold if they can help it. But not all of them have somewhere to go when the mercury drops.

READ MORE: Old Royal Victoria Hospital converted to emergency homeless shelter

“The people who seem to be most at risk are obviously the people who don’t have the resources to be able to take care of themselves,” said Dr. Mitch Shulman of the MUHC.

“Cold is always difficult — it’s kind of sneaky how it creeps up on you. When people develop hypothermia, they actually may not even be aware of it.”

On Thursday, the city’s four largest homeless shelters — the Old Brewery Mission, the Welcome Hall Mission, Accueil Bonneau and Maison du Père — announced they would be organizing an 80-bed overflow shelter at the former site of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

READ MORE: Record-breaking cold snap leaves Montreal shelters scrambling

Shelters like the Old Brewery Mission are using currently using shuttle buses in the evening, trying to reach out to the city’s homeless population and encourage them to find shelter.

“It will go to areas where homeless people frequent and try to invite them onto the bus,” said Matthew Pearce with the Old Brewery Mission. “We have a staff person on the bus who will get out and go greet them.”

The numbers on homelessness in Montreal constantly fluctuate, but most reliable estimates peg the city’s full-time homeless population at above 3,000 people.

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