Health Canada Report Shows Climate Change is Hurting Canadians Now

Ottawa—A new report from Health Canada shows that climate change is negatively impacting the health of Canadians now. Climate change is also impacting Canada’s health systems, with damage to health facilities, disruptions to health services and operations—and both will get worse unless we act now.

The report notes that without greater adaptation efforts, the increasing frequency and severity of intense precipitation events, urban flood risk, droughts, extreme heat, wildfires, and storms will cause more illness, injuries, and deaths.

Health infrastructure, operations, health financing, health care, public health programming, supply chains, and the health workforce can be impacted by extreme weather events and by chronic stresses from longer-term warming, reducing access to, and the quality of, care for Canadians. Health facilities and services in rural and remote areas, and health systems that have not assessed and managed risks, face the greatest threats.

Some Canadians are affected more severely by climate change, as exposure and sensitivity to hazards and the ability to take protective measures varies. The report specifically notes the health impacts of climate change on First Nations, Inuit, and M├ętis peoples are far-reaching, with disproportionate impacts on their communities. Food and water security and safety, air quality, infrastructure, personal safety, mental health and wellness, livelihoods, culture, and identity are all disproportionately affected. The report says decision makers must pursue adaptation actions that are inclusive and equitable. 

If these negative health impacts are to be reduced, adaptation measures must be substantially and rapidly scaled up.

The report also notes that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can provide very large and immediate health co-benefits 

If ever non-profits involved in health care, social services or any related sector needed a reason to incorporate climate change into their planning, this report is it.