Preventative Public Health Systems and Adaptation to a Changing Climate Program

Over the last few years, through academic research and support of regional adaptation pilot projects, the Public Health Agency of Canada has advanced the understanding of the health implications of climate change on water- and vector-borne infectious disease (specifically West Nile virus and Lyme disease).


Over the next five years the Agency aims to expand research and further engage Provincial/Territorial (P/T)/local public health stakeholders to address climate change impacts by informing decision making and assisting in the development of practical adaptation strategies to protect the health of Canadians.

This will be achieved through targeted research and the development of enhanced surveillance methods, with particular attention to the importance of water quality, risk to populations, and public health outcomes (e.g., assessment of the burden of vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children and youth, immuno-compromised and northern populations). P/T/local public health will also be engaged to test and integrate practical adaptations (e.g. new/enhanced surveillance, risk assessment methods) to better detect, assess, and respond to emerging vector-, water-, and food-borne disease threats.

Through the outputs of this program public health stakeholders will be able to better identify areas of vulnerability, thus refining their adaptations to meet unique regional needs, and help guide Canadians to adapt and reduce their potential health risks associated with climate change. Where possible and practical, a “One Health” approach that integrates the science of animal, human, and ecosystem health will be taken.

The Preventative Public Health Systems and Adaptation to a Changing Climate Program aims to:

  • provide the public health system with information and tools needed to inform decision making and adaptation strategies to prevent and mitigate the occurrence of disease; and,
  • help protect the health of Canadians by reducing the population health impacts associated with climate change in Canada, and increasing the capacity to adapt, prevent and mitigate the occurrence of infectious diseases.

The projects associated with the Preventative Public Health Systems and Adaptation to a Changing Climate Program include:

  • Climate Change Infectious Disease Toolkit:  Development of a toolkit for local public health professionals to enhance the ability to respond rapidly to vector- and water-borne disease events and reduce and mitigate the occurrence of infectious diseases.
  • Public Health and Water-borne Illness Research Tool: Development of a research instrument to evaluate the association between extreme weather events and public health impacts to help identify risk areas to help control, prevent and respond to water-borne diseases in Canada.
  • Evaluation of the impacts of climate change on food and water safety and public health outcomes:  To characterize Canadian population demographics in terms of relative susceptibility to infection by food and water-borne pathogens, the nature of adverse outcomes and vulnerability that may adversely affect physiological adaptation to climate change impacts.
  • Assessment of the burden of acute gastrointestinal illness  and adaptation to climate change in the Canadian North:  This study will investigate the burden of gastrointestinal illness (among selected Canadian Inuit communities to inform adaptation to climate change strategies.
  • Projected burden of Lyme disease in Ontario, Canada with a Changing Climate:  Global warming is anticipated to accelerate the expansion of Lyme disease into Canada and increase the burden to Canadians. Using information from literature, expert consultation and the vector risk maps the projected burden of Lyme disease for Ontario, Canada will be estimated.

Regional Climate Change Dialogues : The key objective of these meetings is to discuss and facilitate input on adaptation practices and strategies with regional and territorial stakeholders who have a role in addressing the health impacts of climate change. Taking into account region-specific challenges and priorities, these meetings will identify how the Agency can better support the provinces and territories in addressing current and anticipated future challenges related to climate change adaptation.

For additional information on the projects associated with the Program, please contact

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