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C C to offer free air conditioners for up to 8,000 people after the fatal 2021 heat dome


B.C. to provide up to 8,000 free air conditioners following deadly 2021 heat dome

Most of the 619 people who died in B.C.'s heat dome event in 2021 were low-income and vulnerable people who were aged 60 or older

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The Canadian Press
Published Jun 27, 2023  •  1 minute read
Patrick Burnette looks over fans and air conditioners at a Home Depot hardware store, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, in Seattle. The British Columbia government is giving its Crown power utility $10 million to provide vulnerable people with free air-conditioning units.
Patrick Burnette looks over fans and air conditioners at a Home Depot hardware store, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, in Seattle. The British Columbia government is giving its Crown power utility $10 million to provide vulnerable people with free air-conditioning units. Photo by Elaine Thompson /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The British Columbia government is giving its Crown power utility $10 million to provide up to 8,000 free air-conditioning units to vulnerable people.

A death review panel by the BC Coroners Service found that most of the 619 people who died in B.C.’s heat dome event in 2021 were low-income and vulnerable people who were aged 60 or older.

One of the key recommendations from the panel was that the government provide air-conditioning units to those living in single-room apartments.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday that the funding to BC Hydro will provide up to 8,000 air-conditioning units over the next three years, but if demand increases, that number could also go up.

Dix said people can apply for the units on their own or health officials working with elderly people will be able to help them get a unit.

Hydro president Chris O’Reilly said the utility will also offer all customers $50 off purchases of qualified, energy-saving air-conditioning units.

The death review panel released last June said most of those who died had compromised health and lived alone.

Dix said the program is a good and necessary step.

“This is, by standards on the Pacific coast anyway, an ambitious program that will help keep people safe,” said Dix, noting that cities such as Montreal and Chicago have previously experienced deadly heat events.

“What we have here is a comprehensive response,” he said.

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