The climate crisis is the greatest threat facing human and global health. Extreme weather, like floods, ice storms, and droughts are increasing. Climate change from human-caused carbon pollution, is threatening our water, food and health.
As nurses, we understand the impacts of climate change on human populations, including catastrophic floods, heat waves, and fires, the higher incidence of Lyme disease from the spread of ticks carrying this bacteria and more asthma and heat-related illnesses in the patients that come into our care. We have a unique voice and opportunity to advocate for climate-healthy public policy.
What is ONEIG doing?
In January 2023, we are co-hosting an event (see our events and main page) focused on climate change and mental health that is open to the public. ONEIG has submitted an application with support from RNAO head office to attend COP28 to represent nurses, learn about, and advocate for climate action; we are awaiting news of whether it was accepted.
In fall 2022, ONEIG and RNAO staff worked together to respond to bill 23, guided by evidence presented by experts in housing, environment, and planning. We put together an Action Alert asking the government to keep 'Hands Off the Greenbelt" and withdraw/repeal bill 23 and submitted an official response to the committee responsible for public consultation. The ONEIG executive and members have continued to advocate through multiple channels and partnerships.
ONEIG members have been meeting with partners from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (Ontario) and others to focus on the 2022 Ontario provincial election to ensure that critical environmental issues are prioritized. ONEIG announced at the quarterly meeting in March 2022 that RNAO has signed on as a partner to this effort, the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign. The RNAO has also released its' election issue platform, prioritizing climate action (60% reduction in GHG by 2030) and the need for a comprehensive water strategy (in line with current science and advocacy by David Suzuki Foundation). ONEIG Chair spoke on a Queen's Park event panel to emphasize the critical need for political will and action on these issues and the need to recognize that we simply cannot afford to continue the status quo.
In solidarity with community leaders like the David Suzuki Foundation, ONEIG is urging all RNAO members and passionate supporters-at-large to demand immediate action from government to dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
In the fall of 2019, ONEIG collaborated with the Gideon Foreman of the David Suzuki Foundation to deliver a webinar to all RNAO members to help mobilize the nursing vote for climate action leading up to the federal election that fall. ONEIG members developed a climate action toolkit that everyone can use to support local action.
ONEIG members Elise Skinner and Hilda Swirsky added their voices to Ontario Public Health Association's Make It Better campaign to protect children's health from climate-change related harms.
You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. . . . And those answers don’t exist anymore. Because you did not act in time. - Greta Thunberg