Canadian ministers talk about health issues on Clean Air Day 2024


Ottawa – On this Clean Air Day, the links between air quality, climate change and public health take centre stage. Air pollution is the largest environmental risk factor to human health in Canada. Every year, the impacts of air pollution, intensified by events like wildfires, heighten the risks to human health and the environment. Clean Air Day is an important reminder of the health impacts associated with poor air quality.

Last year, Canada experienced the most devastating wildfire season on record. This year’s wildfire season is already highly active and affecting many areas in Canada. Beyond the direct threat of wildfire events, the smoke travels far, impacting people’s health and the environment across the country and beyond. In 2023, Canadian regions had 870 poor air quality days collectively between April 1 to September 30, with the majority due to wildfire smoke.

The Government of Canada is committed to communicating vital and important air quality information to help safeguard your health before, during and after wildfire events.

There are ways to protect your health when the air quality is poor, including limiting outdoor activity, reducing indoor air pollutants and finding clean air spaces in your area. You can also use the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), to better understand what the air quality conditions in your area mean for your health. Other information on the air quality in your area is available on the WeatherCAN application or by consulting the Canadian weather website. The Government of Canada recently made improvements to its air quality forecasting to better account for wildfire smoke. When the AQHI enters very high-risk levels during wildfire events, a new air quality advisory will now be issued with a red banner through the app to alert people in Canada. WeatherCAN continues to be a great tool to set personal notifications about AQHI levels of concern and stay up-to-date on the air quality in your area. As wildfire conditions progress this season, we encourage you to use these tools.

We are committed to continuing to work with provinces and territories to reduce air pollution, fight climate change and ensure that we have the policies, programs and resources in place to promote clean air. We are taking action by implementing the Air Quality Management System to set progressively more stringent national ambient air quality standards in collaboration with provinces and territories. The federal government also puts in place regulations to help cut air pollution from the biggest sources. Most recently, we took unprecedented action using the powers granted by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to issue a two-year Interim Order to mitigate toxic benzene emissions in Sarnia, Ontario. This order was premised on national draft regulations that will permanently protect all Canadians from the harmful effects of volatile organic compounds, which cause ground-level ozone and particulate matter, the main components of smog.

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Let’s continue combating poor air quality and climate change to ensure a sustainable and healthier future for all. – Mark Holland, Steven Guilbeault