Originally published on March 7, 2022
QUEEN'S PARK — Ontario NDP MPPs Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale-High Park), Child Care critic, and Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth), critic for the Climate Crisis, will re-table their bill Monday that, if passed, would require the government to ensure Ontario’s public health system is prepared for the inevitable health impacts of the climate crisis.
Ontarians can expect to experience adverse health consequences due to climate change-related incidents including flooding, wildfires, and other extreme weather events, as well as a potential rise of new diseases and mental health distress caused by climate-related anxiety and displacement.
The bill would establish a Climate Crisis and Health Secretariat to ensure that Ontario develop and implement an action plan to address climate change-related health impacts, and a science advisory board to provide expert guidance.
“Families are already experiencing devastating property damage and losses as the climate crisis causes more flooding, tornadoes and wildfires in Ontario,” said Tabuns. “Unfortunately, we can expect to see more extreme weather events and mental health distress, and experts say that pandemics and other health emergencies will become more common as temperatures continue to rise.”
“We know that marginalized communities will suffer the most from the negative effects of climate change, as the climate crisis creates more instability in housing, food, employment and quality of life,” Karpoche said.
“Instead of taking critical steps to address the climate crisis, Doug Ford has axed a program to plant 50 million trees, stripped powers from the province’s Conservation Authorities, cancelled cap and trade and scrapped green energy contracts and incentives,” Karpoche said. “That’s on top of Ford’s deep cuts to health care — in the middle of a pandemic, no less — and to mental health services.”
Tabuns stressed that Ontarians have experienced firsthand the challenges of a government being ill-prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, noting, “We can’t afford to make the same mistake by refusing to recognize how the climate crisis will harm our mental and physical health.”
“The government must act now to ensure Ontario is ready to respond to the climate crisis,” said Karpoche. “If the Ford government refuses to take action, we will see more devastating public health crises on our hands, and fewer resources to meet these challenges, in the years to come.”
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