This summer, Canada experienced the worst wildfire season on record.
Fires consumed nearly 18 million hectares of forest — an area more than twice the size of Lake Superior — causing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and exposing communities to dangerous wildfire smoke.
Climate change will continue to have devastating impacts on health and human lives, further straining health systems and nullifying any possibility for adaptation, warns the latest Lancet Countdown on health and climate change. That is, unless ambitious climate action is urgently undertaken.
“In the past few months, we have seen the serious health effects of wildfires and severe flooding across Canada. At the Canadian Medical Association, we know that communicating the health impacts of the climate crisis is key to driving change. Slow action is akin to no action.” — Dr. Kathleen Ross, President, Canadian Medical Association
In partnership with the CMA, the Lancet produced a report with targeted recommendations for Canada including divesting from and phasing out fossil fuels, increasing cross-jurisdictional coordination of extreme weather event emergency management and supporting healthy, sustainable food systems.
The CMA’s ongoing advocacy to address the health impacts of climate change involves creating a net-zero emissions health system by 2050.
As part of this work, the CMA is calling for the establishment of a national secretariat to collaborate with provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous Peoples. This secretariat would facilitate and coordinate the creation of climate-resilient and low-carbon sustainable health systems.
“Climate change has always been a health issue,” says Dr. Ross. “We strongly urge governments and policymakers to collaborate on making sustainable, evidence-based choices to slow the impact of climate change today and into the future.”