Canada faces an epidemic level of respiratory diseases, exacerbated by poor air quality. On smog alert days our emergency wards are packed. Asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism from school and the third leading cause of work loss. Over three million Canadians, about 8.4% of the country’s population, and one in eight children suffer from asthma, and the numbers are increasing rapidly.
Yet, Canada’s regulation of air quality lags behind that of other nations. Canada allows sulphur dioxide at concentrations of 115 parts per million (ppm) while the European Union, for example, allows 48 and Australia permits 80.
The issue of air quality is intimately connected with climate change. The formula is: air pollution + heat = smog. A failure to confront the climate crisis, directly and soon, will result in more extreme heat conditions during the summer months. The more 30+ degree days that Canadians experience, the more smog days that will occur.
More stringently regulating to reduce the precursors of smog (particulates, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) as well as to reduce serious neuro-toxic contamination of air with mercury is necessary and is immediately possible within the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Regulating to reduce these contaminants must be coupled with reducing the burning of fossil fuels that emit particulates as well as climate-warming GHGs. Measures to meet climate protection targets by reducing reliance on fossil fuels will have important benefits in avoiding ever-worsening heat impacts and these contaminants.
Green Party MPs will:
Strengthen CEPA with specific and strong regulations to reduce particulates, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other airborne contaminants;
Address smog-causing heat and pollution through solutions outlined in Part 2: Addressing the challenge of the Climate Crisis: Enhancing economic performance while safeguarding our future in this document.