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OTTAWA — A new report says governments should treat extreme heat events as natural disasters because climate change increases the risk of rising summer temperatures in most of Canada’s largest cities.

The Intact Center on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo is urging Canadians to take the threat of intense heat more seriously.

It warns that more than 17 million people live in urban areas most at risk of extreme heat problems in the coming decades.

The report says heat does not cause the same large-scale property damage as floods and fires, but poses a greater risk to human health.

Nearly 600 people died in British Columbia during the heat wave last June and July.

Report author Joanna Eyquem says people and governments can mitigate the effects of heat waves with more urban green spaces, backup power sources to keep cooling equipment running during power surges and better planning for heat-related emergencies.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 19, 2022.

The Canadian Press