Seven Northern Ontario health units in and around the Parry Sound District will look at how climate change might create new health issues as well as making existing medical issues even worse.

The 2-year project funded by Health Canada includes the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, the Porcupine Health Unit, Northwest Health Unit, as well as partners from Algoma, Thunder Bay, Timiskaming, and Sudbury.

The project is administered at Northwestern Health Unit on behalf of the group.

The reports developed during this project will help public health units understand what changes to expect and begin to prepare.

The study first recognizes that climate change is a threat to human health around the world and that climate change impacts in Northern Ontario are expected to be more severe than in Southern Ontario.

Also, differences in the Northern Ontario geography, population density, and Indigenous populations mean the health effects of climate change will be felt differently than in Southern Ontario.

Dr. Jennifer Loo, Associate Medical Officer of Health at Algoma Public Health says, “Even within the north, each area needs to understand and respond to climate change based on local factors such as differences in exposure and population vulnerability, and the diversity of the communities in the region.”

Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at Northwestern Health Unit says project staff will work with each of the seven Health Units to create common tools and information so they can each engage stakeholders at the local level.

The NBPSDSU says the purpose of the consultations is to educate these partners on the effects 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.