The Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Assessment was guided by several key tools, including the Ontario Climate Change and Health Toolkit, Health Canada’s Climate Change and Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment: Workbook for the Canadian Health Sector, as well as the World Health Organization’s Protecting Health from Climate change: Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Guide. Authors also looked to other Ontario Public Health Units that have completed Vulnerability Assessments for guidance and information, including Peel Public Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit, Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit and York Region.
Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Assessments generally follow several distinct steps to inform the assessment. These include framing and scoping the assessment by defining geographical regions, policy contexts and health outcomes of interest, and establishing engagement and reporting processes. Vulnerability is then assessed as a function of exposure, physiological sensitivity, and adaptive capacity, which is also reflected in current burden of illness and associated health protection programs. Future impacts are predicted based on climate change projections, and existing as well as potential adaptation measures are identified. The final step is to use the synthesized information to manage and monitor risks through evaluation, program development, and communication strategies. The focus of the Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Assessment for Waterloo Region, Wellington County, Dufferin County, and the City of Guelph centered on the vulnerability assessment component of this framework and included the development of a rapid risk assessment tool to identify priority risk areas.