In 2021, York Region Public Health completed a Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Assessment (CCHVA). The CCHVA assessed current impacts of climate change on the health of York Region residents and identified future health impacts climate change will pose in York Region. The identified health impacts are expected to intensify in the coming years due to increasing temperatures, extreme precipitation events, and an increase in drought conditions. Local factors such as floodplains and urban heat islands will also influence health risks from climate change.
While the CCHVA identified climate risks, gaps in knowledge persisted surrounding community knowledge and adaptation actions. Building on these gaps, the Bridging the Gap project aimed to increase understanding of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptive capacity throughout York Region as it related to public health. It involved two surveys: one telephone survey, and one online survey. The first survey examined resident knowledge and attitudes towards climate change. In this survey, the project team, in collaboration with other interested Ontario health units and Health Canada, created new modules for the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS), which can be used to re-examine community knowledge in the future. The second online survey was conducted among stakeholders who represented many at-risk populations in York Region to determine which adaptation measures they felt were most important to prepare for and cope with the health impacts of climate change.