The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has joined with other members of the Climate Change Action Network to call on the Ontario government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. In an open letter to Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, and Rod Phillips, the Minister of Environment, coalition members pointed out that, while one of the government’s first acts was to cancel the existing climate policies of the previous government, it has no strategy of its own to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Impacts of climate change already a problem in Ontario
While no one storm or forest fire can be attributed to climate change, the trends for both are worrying.
The letter points out that as of the beginning of August, there have been 831 forest fires in Ontario this year. This is 60% higher than the 10 year average of 511 forest fires a year.
There is also an increase in flooding due to extreme weather events. We know that if climate change is allowed to get worse, events like the one that led to flooding in Toronto earlier this week will become more common.
Quebec is still the only Canada province to separately record deaths caused by heat-related complications so we can’t be sure exactly what impact higher temperatures are having in Ontario. However, the fact that as many as 70 deaths in Quebec were attributed to the July 2018 heat wave provides an indication of what is likely be happening in Ontario.
Climate change a workplace health and safety issue
For many NUPGE members, climate change is already having an impact on their jobs. It is making the jobs they do more difficult, and in a many cases, a lot more dangerous.
Among those affected are firefighters putting out forest fires and highway maintenance workers trying to keep roads open during and after extreme weather events. Many NUPGE members working in health and social services see the more people needing help after the type of events linked to climate change.
Greenhouse Canada emissions produced by Canada among the highest in the world
That means Canada as a whole, and provinces like Alberta and Ontario in particular, have a responsibility to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE