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VCH Chief Medical Health Officer Report 2023: Protecting Population Health in a Climate Emergency

The 2023 Chief MHO report identifies populations in the VCH region facing urgent harms to health due to climate change.

This landmark report brings together multiple sources of data and analyses to describe the impacts of climate change on population health, and to examine the most significant impacts experienced and anticipated in the region. It also documents significant work already underway from local governments, Indigenous communities and community partners to mitigate climate change and adapt to protect those at risk.

Some of the impacts identified include:

  • Drinking water systems in many smaller communities in VCH are at risk of disruption or failure in the event of drought or flooding.
  • Indigenous communities have identified that changes to the climate in the VCH region create obstacles for many Indigenous people to engage in cultural practices, potentially impacting nutritional and spiritual health and wellbeing.
  • A citizen science project shows indoor temperatures get dangerously hot within housing in the VCH region during hot weather events, particularly multi-unit dwellings without air conditioning.
  • High-density neighbourhoods in every urban community in VCH — from West Vancouver to Richmond — would benefit from additional tree planting, as shown by Metro Vancouver’s urban tree planting priority index.
  • Many rural, remote, and smaller VCH communities don’t have full-scale government air quality monitoring stations to measure local exposure to contaminants from wildfire smoke. A VCH Public Health project helps community members assess local air quality.
  • Young people are especially vulnerable to climate anxiety. National data and surveys of students across the VCH region indicate that concern about climate change is putting youth mental wellbeing at risk.

The report includes 17 evidence-based recommendations to guide actions for protecting populations that are at greater risk, adapting to a changing climate, learning through monitoring and research, and mitigating further climate change. All levels and sectors of government, non-governmental organizations, and other partners can play a role and cooperate to reduce the population health impacts of climate change.

VCH Medical Health Officers are committed to active collaboration to bolster the region’s resilience to climate change and will work with partners to advance these actions.

Read the full report

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A portrait of Patricia Daly outside on a sunny day.  She is glasses and an animal print blouse

About the Chief Medical Health Officer

Dr. Patricia Daly is the Vice President, Public Health and Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health. She is also a Clinical Professor in the School of Population and Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Learn more about Dr. Patricia Daly

Previous reports

    • Chief Medical Health Officer report 2018

      Response to the Opioid Overdose Crisis in Vancouver Coastal Health

    • Chief Medical Health Officer report 2017

      Taking Action to Improve Health in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region

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Public Health

We care for the health and well-being of our population through health promotion, disease and injury prevention, protection from health hazards, and response to urgent public health issues.

Who we serve

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is one of five regional health authorities in British Columbia working in partnership with the Ministry of Health to provide high quality, appropriate and timely health services to British Columbians.