Oct 11, 2022

Survey: Food Bank Clients Face Disproportionate Barriers in Home Cooling

For the past several years, Toronto has seen longer heat waves and higher temperatures. This past summer, temperatures climbed above 30 degrees Celsius on at least 16 days. Researchers predict that this number will reach 30 days in the coming decade.

Heat waves are extremely dangerous for people’s health and well-being. In summer 2021, during the extended heat dome, there were 619 heat-related deaths in B.C.; the Chief Coroner’s report shows that the majority of the deceased didn’t have access to air conditioning.

The newest Click/Hear survey shows that people who rely on food banks for their food supply have far less access to cooling in their homes than the general population.

40% of respondents do not have air conditioners at home. For comparison, according to a 2019 Statistics Canada study, 15% of Torontonians do not have air conditioning at home.

85% reported facing barriers of some sort. The top three barriers cited to keeping homes cool were:

  1. Not having air conditioning
  2. Not being able to afford air conditioning
  3. Fans which don’t cool their homes enough.

30% of those asked reported having symptoms of heat stress (exhaustion, sleeping problems, and concentration problems). A quarter of participants also reported an inability to complete daily tasks.  Ten percent of participants reported a heat-related illness or worsening of pre-existing health condition.

Ontario Human Rights Commission recently recommended including air conditioning to the provincial legislation as a vital service in line with the heat, hot and cold water, electricity, and fuel.

Across the city, different neighbourhoods experience a wide variation of temperatures. Lower income communities are often significantly hotter. To see how your neighbourhood compares, check your postal code on the summer 2022 CBC investigative report on urban heat islands.

Each month Click/Hear will send out a short survey on the topics that have deep impact on the lives of our clients, from access to dental care to the cost of winter clothing for children. To participate in the survey or read the reports, click here.

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