Rising temperatures are one of the biggest global health threats of the 21st century. They underscore a critical need for ambitious adaptation and advancement of protective measures to safeguard the health of populations. The threat of rising temperatures is even greater in Canada because the country is warming 2-3 times faster than other regions. The record-setting heat dome that engulfed western Canada in late June 2021 was associated with at least 740 excess deaths among older Canadians, and it strained provincial health services to a near breaking point. This catastrophic event followed on the heels of record-breaking temperatures in 2020, which capped the hottest decade ever recorded in Canada and the planet. While the negative health impacts of heat are predictable and largely preventable, improving population health outcomes requires that policy makers, frontline clinical staff, health managers, and others have comprehensive knowledge of factors affecting heat-vulnerable populations. In this presentation, we will review the effects of the 2021 heat dome and examine how we can mobilize to improve our preparedness to respond and adapt to extreme heat events. We will review how science is helping to generate the evidence-based heat protection solutions (e.g., use of cooling centers, fan use) and advice to safeguard the health and well-being of susceptible people during extreme hot weather.
Speakers: Dr. Glen Kenny, University of Ottawa; Dr. Robert Meade, University of Ottawa; Dr. Sarah Henderson, NCCEH, BCCDC