Understanding and Assessing Impacts
Many climatic hazards have affected the health of the Quebec population in recent years. For example, during the summer of 2020, severe heat waves led to 149 deaths and numerous hospitalizations, while the floods of 2017 and 2019 caused significant psychological distress. Lyme disease cases have also continued to rise for more than a decade. These health effects, revealed by several studies, have sparked public health momentum to adapt to and respond to climate change. The project, “Regional climate change vulnerability assessment and design of regional public health climate adaptation plans (VRAC-PARC),” therefore aimed to integrate the health dimension of climate change adaptation more systematically at the regional level, as well as promote the capacity and importance of public health actors in adapting to climate change.
VRAC-PARC used the public health risk management method, emphasizing the multi-risk aspect of climatic phenomena, the effects of climate change on health, the social determinants of health, and the accumulation of vulnerability. The INSPQ has provided a framework for participating DSPubliques to describe the foundations of their assessments, the methods, and the data sources available. The probabilities of occurrence of climate-related risks and their potential health consequences were estimated based on this framework. The projections were then combined into a risk matrix to assess the overall public health risk. The data comes from multiple sources, including climate portals, censuses, health status and coping behavior surveys, as well as scientific literature and information collected in the field.
Collaboration with regional actors was strongly encouraged as part of the project in order to take advantage of local expertise (eg, adaptive capacity) and complement existing adaptation efforts. By the end of 2022, more than 800 regional players, particularly from municipal and community circles, had taken part in the efforts of the DSPublique to carry out their assessment. The comparison of sectors, hazards, and populations according to their level of risk will make it possible to better target the adaptation measures that must be integrated at the regional level to optimally reduce the consequences of climate change on health. In addition, the INSPQ continues to periodically evaluate the project in order to improve its structure and methods.