Climate Change Will Drive Up Health Costs And Inequities, Report Finds

Governments can save lives and minimize costs by investing proactively in measures that improve people’s health and security in the face of rising climate impacts

A New Report from The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, made up of a individuals in a host of expert fields from across the country

Posted June 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

OTTAWA, Ontario —As the world takes stock of how the COVID-19 pandemic continues  to impact the most vulnerable people, a new report from the Canadian Institute for Climate  Choices warns that climate change will similarly worsen health inequities and significantly  increase costs to Canada’s health system and economy without targeted government action.  

Published today, The Health Costs of Climate Change: How Canada Can Adapt, Prepare, and  Save Lives finds that climate change represents a significant public health threat that will  disproportionately harm those most vulnerable.  

Assessing a range of possible impacts under both low- and high-emissions scenarios, the report  finds that the impacts of climate change could cost Canada’s healthcare system billions of dollars  and reduce economic activity by tens of billions of dollars over the coming decades. Adding the  value of lost quality of life and premature death, the societal costs of climate change impacts on  health will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars.  

The report concludes that responding effectively to climate-related health threats will require  Canadian policy makers to expand their focus beyond considering climate and health policy in  isolation, and offers recommendations to support prioritizing policy and investment that  addresses the social and economic root causes of poor health and health inequity. 


  • The average number of dangerously hot days (days above the threshold for heat-related  deaths) are projected to range from 75 to 100 days each year, on average, by later this  century. That’s the equivalent of between ten and 14 straight weeks of dangerously hot  days each summer. 
  • As temperatures increase, ground-level ozone (a component of urban smog) is projected  to worsen under all scenarios. Towards the end of the century, the report estimates that  ground-level ozone could cause over a quarter of a million people per decade to be  hospitalized or die prematurely, with an annual cost of about $250 billion. 
  • Climate change has already increased the frequency and severity of wildfires across the  country, resulting in widespread air pollution and economic devastation in affected areas,  and the impacts of wildfires on air quality and human health are expected to worsen in  many regions.
  • Under the high-emissions scenario, climate change will lead to a projected loss of 128  million hours of work annually by the end of the century due to heat impacts on  productivity. This is the equivalent of 62,000 full-time jobs lost, or $14.8 billion per year  in lost productivity. 
  • In addition to the estimated damages, the costs of health-related climate impacts that are  difficult to measure today may far exceed those considered in this report. Climate change  is likely to impact people’s mental health, lead to ecosystem changes, and negatively  impact cultures and ways of life. These losses may not be on balance sheets or in  government budgets, but to overlook them risks ignoring some of the most critical  impacts of climate change on health and well-being. 


“Good health doesn’t start in the doctor’s office or the emergency room. It starts in our homes,  our jobs, our communities—and by proactively adapting to the effects of climate change.  Investing in improving the social, economic and environmental factors that determine our health  will save lives and improve quality of life for generations to come.”  Ryan Ness, Adaptation Research Director, Canadian Institute for Climate Choices 

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have seen the importance of robust and  proactive public health measures. They have also seen that the most disadvantaged populations  bear the greatest burden in a public health emergency. What is true for COVID-19 is true for  climate change. Climate change is a public health emergency and must be treated as such. This  report underscores the importance of governments investing today in proactive initiatives to  protect people’s health and well-being.”   Ian Culbert, Executive Director, Canadian Public Health Association 

“The scientific consensus is clear: without rapid mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, the  public health effects will only intensify in the years to come. Fortunately, many of the policies  needed to fight climate change could also produce health benefits, reduce health care costs, and  improve social cohesion and equity in our communities. This report underscores that climate  change disproportionately harms the most disadvantaged populations. Policymakers must  consider options that have a triple aim of reducing the impact of climate change, improving  health outcomes and reducing health inequities.  Eric J. Mang, Co-Chair, Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century 


To read the full report, click on – Report  

Executive Summary 

Interactive Infographic 

Who We Are – The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices brings together experts from diverse disciplines to undertake rigorous research, conduct insightful analysis, and engage a range of stakeholders and rightsholders to bring clarity to the climate challenges and transformative policy choices ahead for Canada.

We are publicly funded, non-partisan, and independently governed.

For more, click on

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