Get the Facts

Science has shown that our health, and our children’s health, is being directly and seriously impacted by the changing climate. The Make It Better campaign was developed by the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) in partnership with leading health and environmental working to protect children’s health from climate change.

Lyme Disease

  • In just 6 years (2009-2015), cases of Lyme disease in Ontario increased from around 30 cases per year, to more than 300.22
  • Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are particularly vulnerable.23 If not treated early, the disease can last years and lead to arthritis, paralysis and, in rare cases, death.24
  • Climate change has contributed to the spread of the tick that transmits Lyme disease.25
  • Extended, warmer seasons mean disease-carrying tick populations can grow, spread, and be active longer.26

Asthma

  • Asthma is one of the leading causes of hospital admissions for children in Canada.27
  • Untreated, it can be life-threatening.28
  • Air pollution, dust, forest fire smoke and pollen are key triggers for asthma attacks.29
  • Every year, over 7,000 people in Ontario die from air pollution.30 
  • Climate change means longer, drier and warmer summers, increasing air pollution risks from forest fires, dust storms, pollen and smog-forming chemical reactions.31

Heat-Related Illness

  • Children are among the most vulnerable to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.32 
  • Extreme heat contributes to an average of 120 premature deaths each year in Toronto.33 
  • Climate change is leading to more and more extreme heat days.34 
  • In the near future (between 2021-2050), Toronto could see over 30 extreme heat days annually, and over 50 extreme heat days by 2080.35

22  Gasmi S., et al. (2017). Surveillance for Lyme disease in Canada: 2009–2015. Can Commun Dis Rep. 43(10):194-9. https://doi.org/10.14745/ccdr.v43i10a01

23 Ibid.

24  Government of Ontario. (2016). Lyme Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.ontario.ca/page/lyme-disease

25 Public Health Ontario. (2016). Blacklegged tick surveillance in Ontario: A systematic review. Retrieved from https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/blacklegged-tick-surveillance.pdf?la=en
26 Bouchard C. et al. (2019) Increased risk of tick-borne diseases with climate and environmental changes. Can Commun Dis Rep 2019; 45(4):81. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/reports-publications/canada-communicable-disease-report-ccdr/monthly-issue/2019-45/issue-4-april-4-2019/article-2-increased-risk-tick-borne-diseases-climate-change.html
27 Canadian Institute for Health Information. (n.d). Asthma Hospital Stays for Children and Youth. Retrieved from https://www.cihi.ca/en/asthma-hospital-stays-by-children-and-youth

28 Asthma Society of Canada. (n.d.) Infants and Children: Asthma in infants and children. Retrieved from https://www.asthma.ca/get-help/asthma-3/control/infants-and-children/  

29 Asthma Society of Canada. (n.d.) Common Asthma Triggers. Retrieved from: https://asthma.ca/get-help/asthma-3/triggers-3/common-asthma-triggers/

30 Government of Canada. (2018). Health Impacts of Air Pollution in Canada – An estimate of premature mortalities. Retrieved from: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2018/sc-hc/H144-51-2017-eng.pdf

31 Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. (April 2019). Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals: Module 3 – Climate Change Health Impacts across Canada. Retrieved from https://cape.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Module-3-ready-to-upload-SOLO-April-5-2019.pdf

32 Health Canada. (2011). Communicating the Health Risks of Extreme Heat Events: Toolkit for Public Health and Emergency Management Officials. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/climate-change-health/communicating-health-risks-extreme-heat-events-toolkit-public-health-emergency-management-officials-health-canada-2011.html

33 Toronto Public Health. (2011, July). Protecting Vulnerable People from Health Impacts of Extreme Heat. Retrieved from https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2011/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-39468.pdf

34 Climate Atlas of Canada. (2018). Climate Change in Canada. Retrieved from https://climateatlas.ca/

35  Ibid.