June 20th, 2024

NSNDP calls for air conditioning in seniors’ buildings amid heat wave

HALIFAX -As the season's first heat wave hits Nova Scotia, New Democrats are calling on the Houston government to ensure the health and safety of seniors by providing air conditioning in government-owned seniors’ housing.

“It is unacceptable for seniors to live in hot buildings without relief during extreme heat events. We are concerned about older Nova Scotians who are at especially high risk of illness and death during hot weather,” said NSNDP leader Claudia Chender. “Cost is a major barrier for low-income renters who do not have air conditioning and we need to address this issue as soon as possible.”

Environment Canada issued a heat warning throughout Nova Scotia this week. Maximum temperatures of 29 to 34 degrees are expected today, with humidex values of 37 to 43 degrees.

Cheryl Poole, who lives in government-owned seniors’ housing in Dartmouth, said her apartment gets unbearably hot in the summer.

“There’s no ventilation, and it’s very, very hot, moist and stuffy. You have sweat rolling down your back,” said Poole. “Our building really needs air conditioning. We suffer the most because we’re elderly. Extreme heat is harder on us.”

According to Natural Resources Canada, the average summer temperature in the Maritimes is already increasing and could rise by another two to four degrees by 2050.

The Climate Institute of Canada has endorsed heat pumps as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to provide air conditioning. Nova Scotia can also look to other provinces like BC, which has a program that provides portable air conditioning units to low-income households.

“The time to act is now. Extreme heat is one of the deadliest consequences of climate change and the Houston government must take action to adapt to rising temperatures,” said NSNDP Environment and Climate Change spokesperson Lisa Lachance.

The NSNDP tabled legislation in 2022 that would require the installation of air conditioning in long-term care homes.