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Vancouver medical health officer says climate change puts many at risk

Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical health officer says every community within her region is at risk of harm because of the changing climate. 

Dr. Patricia Daly says those risks from climate extremes are different in each community under the authority which encompasses 1.25 million people, depending on geography and demographics. 

In her first report since the COVID-19 pandemic, Daly says climate change presents a range of health risks including extreme heat, wildfire smoke, flooding and droughts.

Among her 17 recommendations are calls for municipal and provincial building codes to be updated with rental standards that require cooling features and improvements to indoor air quality levels to mitigate wildfire smoke. 

Daly says there needs to be better support for older adults and people with disabilities during extreme heat events.

A report from the BC Coroners Service after the June 2021 heat dome event in the province said more than 600 people died due to the record-setting temperatures, and it made several recommendations on how to counter another such disaster. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2024. 

The Canadian Press

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