Experts urge governments to climate-proof Canada’s hospitals to withstand disasters

Governments must disaster-proof Canada’s hospitals against climate change: experts

“Eight years ago, the largest medical evacuation in Canadian history took place, with everyone escaping safely and the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre miraculously still standing after the flames receded. However, the damage from the smoke was considerable, requiring extensive cleanup and replacement of essential infrastructure.

Canada’s Vulnerable Hospitals:

The evacuation highlighted the vulnerability of Canada’s hospitals, not just in Fort McMurray but across the country. The threat of disasters like fires, floods, heat waves, and extreme weather events impacting hospitals themselves is a growing concern. With climate-related emergencies expected to increase in frequency and severity, there is an urgent need to disaster-proof life-saving infrastructure.

The Cost of Inaction:

Canada’s health-care facilities are among the oldest public infrastructure, with many built over 50 years ago, making them especially susceptible to extreme climate events. Several hospitals outside of Fort McMurray have been forced to close due to extreme weather conditions, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to protect these vital institutions.

The Urgency of Preparedness:

Moving forward, there is a pressing need for hospitals to address climate risks and implement strategies to enhance resilience. Investing in infrastructure upgrades, such as relocating electrical systems, improving ventilation, and installing air conditioning, may come with a financial cost but is necessary to safeguard lives and prevent further damage in the long run.

A Call to Action:

As climate change continues to impact communities and health systems, every health authority and ministry in Canada must prioritize disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts. Failure to address these risks could lead to devastating consequences, both in terms of financial burden and human lives lost.

Looking Towards the Future:

Future-proofing hospitals against climate-related disasters is not just a recommendation but a necessity for ensuring the continuity of essential healthcare services. By adopting transformative changes and proactive measures, Canada can better prepare its health-care facilities for the challenges posed by a changing climate. The time to act is now, before another tragedy strikes.

In conclusion, the health and safety of Canadians depend on the resilience of our hospitals in the face of increasing climate threats. It is essential for all levels of government, healthcare providers, and communities to work together to strengthen our healthcare infrastructure and protect the well-being of all Canadians.”



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