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COMMENTARY: Tackling the health system’s carbon footprint: when part of the problem becomes part of the solution – CMA

December 1, 2023

As temperatures plunge in Canada and snowy conditions move into many parts of the country, more than 400 forest fires continue to burn. They’re the holdovers of a devastating summer that broke records for its fiery destruction. As a result of climate change, there will probably be more record-breaking in the years ahead.

The health system is one of Canada’s biggest employers, and it is time to review its climate impact. Our health system is at great risk due to climate change. Nearly half of our health-care facilities were built more than 50 years ago, making them especially susceptible to climate change. Wildfires can affect hospital ventilation, increase admissions due to smoke-related health issues, and threaten hospital infrastructure. The supply chain for essential hospital resources can also be disrupted. Just a few months ago, the 100-bed Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife, N.W.T., had to evacuate because of wildfires. With resources already spread thin, patients and providers are ill equipped to face these environmental challenges.

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