The health challenges related to a changing climate have connected a wide range of sectors interested in protecting health. Actions to respond and adapt are a collaborative effect by public health organizations and practitioners, communities, interested groups, and businesses.
Of special interest
The Government works with researchers and decision-makers to strengthen public health policies and action plans to address the health concerns related to a changing climate.
In December 2007, the Government committed to help Canadians adapt to a changing climate and its impacts. To address growing risks to health, actions are being taken to:
In 2008, Health Canada completed a comprehensive national assessment and published a report on human health vulnerability to a changing climate. The assessment expands knowledge about climate-related health risks, and discusses activities which can help to protect Canadians from the effects of climate variability and change.
It is recognized that extreme heat poses a health risk in Canada. Building on the findings of the above report, Health Canada has launched a three-year heat initiative entitled Developing Heat Resilient Communities and Individuals in Canada. By 2011, this project will pilot heat alert and response systems, publish a guidebook, and create health care worker guidelines for heat events.
Other Government departments also contribute to protecting Canadians from climate-related health effects, such as:
Because of Canada's northern latitude and large landmass, Canada is expected to experience greater rates of warming than many other countries.
Changes to Canada's climate will not be uniform, but will vary from one location to another and Canadians can expect a wide range of impacts.
Some provinces and territories have developed climate change action plans including ways to reduce risks to health. For example, here are Health Measures Under the Quebec Climate Change Action Plan (Government of Quebec, 2006)
Local communities play a key role in adapting to the health impacts of climate change. The varying effects of a changing climate can be specific to a certain area and communities are often knowledgeable about the distinctive needs of their members.
Many communities are working to protect themselves from climate-related health risks by enhancing or creating adaptive plans and programs.
For example, Climate SMART is an Integrated Strategy for Climate Change Mitigation and Impact & Adaptation Preparedness and Planning developed in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Adapting to Climate Change: An Introduction for Canadian Municipalities is a publication designed to help municipalities develop a better understanding of how to incorporate adaptation into their planning processes.
The Canadian Red Cross developed its Expect the Unexpected™ school prevention program in 1997, following the major floods in Saguenay, Quebec, in 1996. It assists youth and their families in dealing with the impacts of natural disasters, and adopting disaster preparedness behaviours.