A man attends a climate change protest in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. A report by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices says climate change will add more than $100 billion to Canada’s health-care costs by mid-century. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A man attends a climate change protest in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. A report by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices says climate change will add more than $100 billion to Canada’s health-care costs by mid-century. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Climate change health costs to top $100B by mid-century: report

Canadian Institute for Climate Choices report considered air quality, diseases and temperatures

Climate change is likely to add more than $100 billion a year to Canada’s health-care costs by mid-century, says a report by a federally funded research group.

The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices says effects on health are likely to be heaviest among those who are already disadvantaged.

“Heat waves, air pollution — we see that those disproportionately impact people with certain health status and people who don’t have the same resources as the average Canadian,” said co-author Ryan Ness.

The report draws on some of the latest research to model how a less predictable climate with more extreme events could affect the health of Canadians. It looked at two cases: one in which little is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions and one in which global warming is kept under 2.5 degrees C.

Up until 2050, there is little difference between the two scenarios, Ness said.

The report considered air quality, new diseases and hotter temperatures.

“Those are all impacts we already know are happening. There is a clear connection to climate change and a good body of science on how people’s health outcomes relate to those stresses,” Ness said.

Air quality is the biggest factor.

Rising temperatures are linked with increased ground-level ozone, which helps create smog. Larger and more frequent wildfires also degrade air quality.

The report predicts the Canadian economy will lose $86 billion by 2050 due to illness and lost productivity due to those factors.

It also quotes research estimating that by mid-century, Ontario and Manitoba will experience about 75 days a year over the threshold at which heat-related deaths begin to occur. The report suggests hospitalizations due to hot weather will increase by at least 21 per cent.

Mental health is harder to quantify, said Ness.

“The effects of extreme weather on mental health and the subsequent economic and human toll is really not on the radar so far.”

But he points to research done after the Fort McMurray, Alta., wildfire — a blaze scientists say was made more possible by climate change — that showed significant increases in depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Depression already costs Canada $34 billion a year, the report says.

Other effects on mental health — impaired outdoor recreation, the loss of habitats Indigenous people depend on — can’t yet be quantified. That doesn’t mean they’re not important, Ness said.

“Those are things a dollar value can’t be put on but must be considered.”

All consequences are likely to be felt more on those less able to bear them, said Ness — the poor, the old, the otherwise disadvantaged.

“They don’t necessarily have a safe and cool place. They don’t necessarily have the same access to health care. They don’t necessarily have the same quality of baseline health.”

The report suggests that Canada’s readiness for changes to people’s well-being is failing. It says federal government funding to help adapt to climate change has earmarked $71 million, or just three per cent, to health.

That needs to change on both federal and provincial levels, suggested Ness. People need to start linking what’s happening in their environment and what’s happening with their health, he said.

“The average person in Canada is starting to recognize more and more that some of the changes that we’re seeing are connected to climate change. I think, though, that we’re not necessarily connecting all the dots.”

—Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Climate changeFederal Politics

Just Posted

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read