MEDIA RELEASE: New report identifies five key climate solutions municipalities should undertake: public health agencies need funding to make it happen

21 November 2023

OTTAWA/HAMILTON/TORONTO (Ontario) – While climate change is already having a significant negative impact on human health, many of the actions needed to prevent further global warming can also produce immediate and significant population health and health equity benefits in the jurisdictions that choose to act.

The report entitled Climate Change, Population Health, and Health Equity: Public Health Strategies and Health and Health Equity Benefits of Five Local Climate Solutions encourages the integration of population health and health equity considerations into climate change mitigation strategies in communities across the country. 

The report includes 10 case studies that focus on the strategies and approaches being used by public health agencies to influence local policies and plans that can improve population health and health equity, while reducing climate emissions. These case studies, and four additional ones, are drawn from work in Ottawa, the Niagara Region, Haliburton, British Columbia, Vancouver Island, Simcoe Muskoka, Vancouver, Hamilton, Nova Scotia, the Cowichan Valley, Peel Region, Powell River, and Saskatoon.

This report also includes comprehensive evidence for some of the population health and health equity benefits associated with five local climate solutions:

  1. Public transit;
  2. Walkable neighbourhoods;
  3. Active transportation infrastructure;
  4. Green space; and
  5. Green buildings/building retrofits.

Given the critical need to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and the immediate and significant health and health equity benefits these five local climate change solutions can have, there is much more that public health agencies could do to accelerate and shape action on these fronts. To realize this potential, public health professionals and their agencies must be trained, authorized, and funded to do so.

The report was produced by the Canadian Public Health Association, the Ontario Public Health Association, and the Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity, with funding from the McConnell Foundation.

QUOTES

“Public health is part of the overall health system that works to prevent disease and injury and to promote health and well-being. It is clear that climate change is an existential threat to humanity and is undermining many of the gains that have been made over the past century. Public health agencies are well-positioned to work with municipalities across the country to reduce climate emissions that are fueling climate change, but they need enhanced and sustained funding to address the growing need for action.”

Ian Culbert, Executive Director

Canadian Public Health Association

“Local investments and policies related to climate solutions can produce significant health and health equity benefits by increasing physical activity and access to jobs and services, reducing air pollution and vehicle-related collisions, and cooling homes and neighbourhoods, and increasing exposure to trees and vegetation. Studies and experience also tell us that the public and decision-makers are more likely to support climate policies when they know that they can produce immediate health benefits for their families and communities.”

Kim Perrotta, Executive Director

Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity

“Public health agencies have an important role to play in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change adaptation. Many of the actions needed to reduce climate emissions can also produce immediate and significant population health and health equity benefits.  In order to do so, it is important that public health professionals be included in municipal planning and development activities. This will help to create more sustainable communities that are healthy and equitable.”

John Atkinson, Executive Director

Ontario Public Health Association

LINKS

For more information or to schedule an interview contact:

Dolores Gutierrez: 613-725-3769, ext. 190

communications@cpha.ca

About the Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity

The Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity (CHASE) is a Canadian non-profit organization that works to incubate changes needed to transform our society. We collaborate with non-profit organizations, public health units, municipalities and other organizations to promote innovative policies, programs and technologies that help create healthier and more sustainable communities.

About the Canadian Public Health Association

Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the international community. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, we are uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world. Our members believe in universal and equitable access to the basic conditions that are necessary to achieve health for all.

About the Ontario Public Health Association

Created in 1949, the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that brings together a broad spectrum of groups and individuals concerned about people’s health. OPHA’s members come from various backgrounds and sectors – from the various disciplines in public health, health care, academic, non-profit to the private sector. They are united by OPHA’s mission of providing leadership on issues affecting the public’s health and strengthening the impact of people who are active in public and community health throughout Ontario. This mission is achieved through professional development, information and analysis on issues effecting community and public health, access to multidisciplinary networks, advocacy on health public policy and the provision of expertise and consultation.

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