Climate change will affect everyone in Canada, but those already experiencing health inequities, will be disproportionately impacted25.
Unequal distribution of income, education, and social and environmental conditions contribute to these inequities26.
Every child should have the protection they need from climate change and have equal access to a healthy environment.
Climate Inequities and Health
As public health experts, we know that kids are at a higher health risk because of climate change. We also know, the risk isn’t equal across and within communities.
Many children in Canada live with inequities that makes them more vulnerable to climate-related health impacts.
- Marginalized groups who tend to be the most affected by the health impacts of climate change are: Indigenous peoples, children, seniors, women, people with low-socioeconomic status, outdoor labourers, racialized people, immigrants, and people with pre-existing health conditions27.
From asthma, to heat-related illness, to anxiety and depression – children are among the most at risk of climate related health impacts. Climate change can worsen inequities, putting marginalized groups at greater risk in Ontario. Public health professionals are increasingly concerned about risks to children. More data is needed on climate risks and inequities to better communicate risk, raise awareness of the urgent need for climate action and protect those most at risk.
Solutions to address climate change and strengthen equity already exist. By working for health and climate equity for our kids and focusing on where the need is the greatest, we can make our communities safer, more climate-resilient and equitable.
Together, we can Make It Better.
Help protect children from the health impacts of climate change and the inequities that put them at greater risk.
Defining Health Inequalities and Health Inequities
- Significant health inequalities (or differences in health status) exist among Canadians, in particular, among those with lower socio-economic status (income, education, employment), Indigenous people, sexual and racial minorities, immigrants, and people with physical or mental impairments28.
- Health inequalities experienced among certain population groups because of social disadvantages, and that can be avoided by societal action, are deemed inequitable29.
- “Racialized Canadians experience lower rates of income, higher rates of unemployment, and lower occupational status that threaten not only their physical, mental, and social health, but also the overall health and well-being of Canadian society.” 30
- Example of a health inequity: childhood asthma hospitalization rates in Canada
- The likelihood of Canadian children experiencing childhood afflictions such as asthma and injuries, are strongly related to the inequities they experience – often described as the social determinants of health31.
- Asthma hospitalization rates for children and youth in Canada, from 2006 and 2015, were about 1.5 times higher in the lowest-income neighbourhoods compared with the highest-income neighbourhoods32.