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Northern Ontario Public Health Units to Work Together on Climate Change Reports

Timmins, Ontario - Monday, May 6, 2019

The seven public health units in Northern Ontario will be working together on climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation reports over the next two years with funding support from Health Canada. Climate change is a threat to human health around the world. The changing environment will bring new health issues, and existing issues may get worse. The reports developed during this project will help public health units understand what changes to expect and to begin to prepare.

Climate change impacts in northern Ontario are expected to be felt different than in southern areas of the province. Even within the North, and within the individual health units, there is variability and this work will enable each area to understand and respond to climate change based on local factors unique to their diverse communities. Dr. Lianne Catton, Medical Officer of Health at the Porcupine Health Unit says, “Potential impacts of climate change include an increase in vector-borne disease such as Lyme disease, as well as the devastating effects of wildfires and flooding. Our diverse communities need to be aware of the risks, in order to prepare and be able to respond effectively to emerging issues.”

The partners in the project include Algoma Public Health, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, Northwestern Health Unit, Porcupine Health Unit, Public Health Sudbury & Districts, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, and Timiskaming Health Unit. The project is administered at Northwestern Health Unit on behalf of the group.

Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at Northwestern Health Unit, says, “a project staff person will work with the health units to create common tools and information so they can each engage stakeholders at the local level.” The purpose of these local meetings will be to educate partners about the effect of climate change on health, and explore possible future policies and programs that might help people adapt to the changes that are happening. Separate reports will be produced for each health unit region.

For more info about the project contact your local public health unit.

The Porcupine Health Unit is located in Northeastern Ontario, serving the entire Cochrane District and Hornepayne, in Algoma District. The main office is located in Timmins, Ontario, with branch offices in Cochrane, Hearst, Hornepayne, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Matheson, Moosonee and Smooth Rock Falls.