Canadian Red Cross disaster responders to assist Torontonians in times of emergencies

New agreement announced between Red Cross and City of Toronto

TORONTO, May 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Canadian Red Cross disaster response volunteers are ready to deploy around-the-clock to provide humanitarian assistance in Toronto, as part of a new partnership between the Canadian Red Cross and the City of Toronto. The new partnership came into effect May 1, 2014.

"With this new partnership, Torontonians affected by disasters, such as fire, floods or lengthy power outages will have the support of the Red Cross when they need it most," said Louise Geoffrion, acting provincial director of disaster management, Canadian Red Cross.

"During the December ice storm, the City and the Canadian Red Cross worked very closely together to set up reception centres so that residents had a warm and safe place to go," said Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. "Under this new agreement, we will be able to continue to work together to ensure that residents will have support and access to vital services during an emergency."   

The Canadian Red Cross has a long-standing relationship with the City of Toronto, however, under the new agreement there is now a standardized approach for the Red Cross to support the City in large-scale responses. The Red Cross will also be called on more frequently to help Torontonians affected by personal disasters such as fire or flooding that forces them to evacuate their homes.

"Over the years, the City and the Canadian Red Cross have developed a strong working relationship and the Red Cross has provided emergency support to the City on many occasions," said City Manager Joe Pennachetti. "This memorandum of understanding formalizes our partnership and ensures that the City has the resources in place when responding to large-scale emergencies."

The Canadian Red Cross is able to respond to disasters thanks to its network of highly trained disaster response volunteers. In order to ensure rapid deployment in Toronto, the Red Cross has built a hospitality suite for its volunteers at its office on Randolph Avenue equipped with beds, showers and a lounge area. On-call Red Cross disaster responders may stay at the hospitality suite on shifts, ready to deploy as needed.

Recent severe storms in Toronto and the GTA, including the summer flash flooding and the December ice storm remind Torontonians that the City is not immune to disaster. During the December ice storm, the Red Cross working closely with the City of Toronto assisted over 4,600 residents in the city and across the GTA. In addition to managing warming shelters and reception centres, the Red Cross provided 3,000 blankets, 2,700 comfort kits, 1,500 cots and served over 20,000 meals during the ice storm response.

SOURCE Canadian Red Cross

For further information: Media Contacts: Karen Snider, Public Affairs, Canadian Red Cross, (416) 518-2844; Wynna Brown, Strategic Communications, City of Toronto, (416) 392-8937