Celebrating Earth Day 2021: Let’s Talk About Climate Change & Health

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A city showing the effect of Climate Change

“Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, and tackling it could be our greatest health opportunity.” – The Lancet

Have you noticed heavier rainstorms, milder winters, or extreme heat days in the summer? How about more frequent basement floods or road washouts? Changes in traditional wild game or berries?

Climate change poses a clear, present and growing threat to human health, and is already being experienced in a variety of ways across Algoma.

The updated Ontario Public Health Standards (2018) and Healthy Environments and Climate Change Guideline have acknowledged the importance of addressing climate change and have mandated health units across Ontario to take appropriate, evidence-informed action to understand and minimize the health impacts of a changing climate.

In response, Algoma Public Health, in partnership with the six other northern Ontario health units, formed a collaborative network to develop a deeper, context-specific understanding of how a changing climate will impact health in the Algoma District and northern Ontario.

With funding support from Health Canada’s HealthADAPT program, Algoma Public Health is completing a climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation assessment to identify and prioritize regional climate hazards, populations who will be impacted first and worst, and actions to protect health.

“The overarching goal of this project is to build and sustain the capacity of Algoma Public Health to protect health by identifying and adapting to the risks posed by climate change,” said Liliana Bressan, public health specialist at Algoma Public Health.

“Risks that this project is examining include: extreme weather events, extreme temperature, food insecurity, vector-borne disease and mental health impacts; all of which have lasting impacts to human health and are projected to intensify with a changing climate,” said Robert Sanderson, Northern Climate Coordinator. “Our climate change and health assessment incorporates regional climate change projections, adaptation capacity, and future health risks, in addition to policy and program recommendations to respond to climate change.”

To date, we have engaged with 26 partners across Algoma, including representatives from health and social services, environmental non-profit organizations, and district municipalities, as well as our First Nations and Metis partners, to understand the impacts of climate change in Algoma and strengthen relationships for effectively responding to climate change and health challenges.

We understand that climate change is affecting the health and wellbeing of Algoma, and we are committed to taking action with our partners to protect our health and our environment.

Join us in celebrating #EarthDay tomorrow, April 22nd, by getting outdoors and interacting with your environment – go for a walk or cycle, clean up your neighborhood, or start a new gardening project to grow your own vegetables this summer! You can also take some time to learn a bit more about the links between climate change and health by reviewing the Climate & Health Infographic.

We all have a role to play in protecting our environment and health.

Gathering indoors with friends and relatives you do not live with is prohibited under the current province wide shutdown and stay at home order.A reminder to celebrate Earth Day only with those in your household. Avoid close contact with people you do not live with, stay home and isolate away from others if you have any symptoms, avoid non-essential travel, and wear a mask when inside public spaces and when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

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