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HKPR draws link between climate change and health in presentation to councillors

DAN CEARNS The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) has drawn a parallel between climate change and health.

At a City of Kawartha Lakes Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, September 12th, Sue Shikaze, the health unit’s Health Promoter, provided councillors with a health vulnerability assessment presentation.

“At a Canadian or national level, in 2022, our Chief Public Health Officer, in the annually released report, focused on the role of public health in relation to climate change, clearly making the link between its health impacts,” Ms. Shikaze explained.

She added the health unit is directed at a provincial level to monitor the impacts of climate change within their jurisdictions.

“Climate change is a global issue, and we feel those impacts locally, both as individuals and as a community,” Ms. Shikaze stated.

Ms. Shikaze gave an example of how environmental issues can impact a community health-wise.

“We’ve had a few extreme heat warnings over the past summer. We know young children [and] older adults are more at risk of heat illness. Similarly, if a person has a pre-existing chronic condition, heart condition [or] respiratory illness, those conditions are going to be more at risk during a heat event as well.”

Her presentation included a sobering reminder of what the world could be like if nothing is done to tackle climate change.

“If we don’t address climate change, and if we don’t take adaptive action, we’re likely to see more health-related emergency department visits for food-related illnesses, heat-related illnesses and waterborne illnesses. [There will be] more injuries due to extreme events like floods and weather events. [We’ll see] worsening of chronic illnesses. We are already seeing increases in the incidents of Lyme disease every year.”

She noted climate change has an impact on mental health as well.

Some of the environmental work HKPR conducts includes monitoring of ticks and mosquitoes, recreational water testing, public outreach and education, emergency planning and poverty reduction work.

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