Planning for climate change
By Sue Tiffin
Sue Shikaze, health promoter with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district health unit updated county council on Sept. 25 on her work with a new portfolio at the health unit that focuses on climate change and health through a climate change health vulnerability and adaptation assessment.
“Essentially what we’re doing is looking at, what are the current climate change effects across our district, and what are the current health impacts related to those climate change effects and how do we project that those things are going to change, because we know the climate is changing, and therefore how’s that going to affect the health of our residents,” she said.
The project is divided into two phases, with the first phase assessing the current situation, including determining who is vulnerable throughout the county, what is the historic and current climate situation, and what is the current burden of illness, aiming to be complete by the end of the year. An adaptation plan would be developed in the second phase, slated to be complete by June 2020.
HKPR work that contributes to adaptation includes recreational water testing, monitoring and surveillance of ticks and mosquitoes, West Nile virus and Lyme disease, and poverty reduction work. Municipalities adaptation work includes developing climate change plans, transportation, emergency planning and preparedness, energy and environmental initiatives and agriculture and community food initiatives.
Shikaze noted that while we often talk about global or national targets in conversations about climate change, the impacts of climate change are often felt locally, and she said in that sense, adaptation to climate change is most effectively carried out at the local level. Shikaze requested a staff liaison be designated through which she could communicate during the ongoing process.