Declare Climate Crisis a Public Health Emergency, Health Organizations Urge Federal Parties
Nearly two dozen organizations representing more than 300,000 Canadian health professionals are out with a call for all the country’s political parties to treat the climate crisis as a public health emergency.
The associations’ three-part prescription to anyone seeking election to Parliament this fall: Develop “effective and evidence-based climate action plans that demonstrate how Canada will achieve the emission reductions needed to do its fair share to keep global warming below 1.5°C”, fund the transition off carbon for vulnerable industries, and give health care institutions, public health units, and communities the funding and coordination they need to prepare for climate impacts.
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“We are running of time. By the time today’s toddlers are in high school, our window for the most effective action will have closed,” the call to action stresses. And “we are the adults in charge at this crucial moment. As those in positions of leadership, we have an opportunity to make the changes needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. In fact, we are the last generation that will ever have this opportunity.”
“We are calling on all political parties to make climate solutions a priority in the 2019 federal election,” said Robin Edger, executive director and CEO of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), which coordinated the release. “Climate change is already affecting the health of Canadians, and in some cases, particularly among vulnerable populations, the effects are fatal. The negative health impacts will only escalate if we do not dramatically reduce climate emissions quickly.”
“We need to invest in our ability to adapt our health care system and public health capacity to address the growing health impacts of climate change in Canada,” agreed Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Sandy Buchman. “And we need a comprehensive plan to meet our international targets and invest in adapting our health system and public health capacity. We expect nothing less from our next government.”
“Climate change poses a threat to the future of this planet, and serious efforts must be made to limit warming to 1.5°C,” added Achieng Tago, director of global health for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students. “Climate change has huge impacts on health, health systems, and society, which we will be grappling with as future physicians.”
The other organizations behind the call include: The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Urban Public Health Network, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, the Alliance for Healthier Communities, the Lung Association, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors-Ontario, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, HealthCareCAN, Generation Squeeze, the Ontario Public Health Association, Children’s Healthcare Canada, the Canadian Network for Respiratory Care, the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health & Environment, the Canadian Society for International Health, and the Resident Doctors Association of Canada.