Environmental Health

The Environmental Health Workgroup champions issues related to climate change, air and water quality, environmental justice and other environmental health issues, and has been working to build organizational and public health capacity in this field since the 1970s. The workgroup seeks to influence government policy and programs, supports and advocates for multi-sectoral collaboration on environmental health issues, and connects its members and similarly focused organizations with each other and with current developments in environmental health. Download a copy of our Terms of Reference [PDF].

The Mission/Mandate

The workgroup is currently focused on such issues as:

• Climate change (mitigation and adaptation for health);
• Air quality (indoor and outdoor)
• Healthy housing
• Children’s health and the environment;
• Water quality (drinking water/recreational water use);
• Environmental toxins (air, food, water, consumer products).


  • Support OPHA’s health-focused climate communications campaign #MakeItBetter, providing input to inform evidence-based messaging on the health impacts of climate change for children and other vulnerable populations.
  • Participate on the Government of Ontario’s Provincial Climate Change Impact Assessment (PCIAA) Stakeholder Engagement Table to identify climate risks, adaptive capacity and adaptation best practices. The EHWG participated on the People and Communities Table, and shared knowledge on climate-related population health and health equity impacts to inform multi-sectoral tables – e.g. infrastructure, agriculture & food, natural environments, and business & the economy.
  • Participate on the Ecohealth Collaborative with public health units, conservation authorities, forestry and parks associations, academic institutions and other partners to increase awareness and understanding of the relationships between the natural environment and health with the aim of finding ways to increase the quality and diversity of the urban and rural green spaces.
  • Active on the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE).
  • Participate on the CPCHE-led RentSafe Initiative, a multi-sectoral initiative to address housing-related health risks for low income tenants and their families.
  • Participate on the CPCHE-led annual Healthy Environments for Learning Day, to raise awareness of and encourage action to prevent environmental health risks to children in early learning environments and schools.
  • Advocate for healthy public policy related to healthy environments, climate action for health, and environmental justice, through various channels including social and traditional media, and formal submissions to policy proposals at the provincial and federal level.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Contributor to the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation’s extreme heat guidance document: Facing the Heat: Practical Action and Multiple Benefits for Canadians Adapting to Extreme Temperatures https://www.intactcentreclimateadaptation.ca/irreversible-extreme-heat-protecting-canadians-and-communities-from-a-lethal-future/
  • Contributor to OPHA/Environmental Defence/University of Toronto research and advocacy for electric vehicles – Clearing the Air: How Electric Vehicles and Cleaner Trucks Can Help Reduce Pollution, Improve Health and Save Lives in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area https://clearingtheair.ca
  • Contributor to Healthy Environments for Learning Day 2021 Campaign – Climate Action: Five ways schools and students can help Canada rearch net-zero emissions.
  • Contributor to Healthy Environments for Learning Day 2022 Campaign – Healthy and Sustainable Child Care Environments: Creating healthy and sustainable child care environments both indoors and out.
  • Contributor to Healthy Environments for Learning Day 2023 Campaign – Electric School Buses: Promoting the shift from diesel-powered to electric school buses across the country.
  • Supported CPHA/CHASE/OPHA awareness campaign 2020/2021 (blogs, fact sheets, backgrounders) to improve public health, decrease health inequities and address climate change – Healthy, Green and Just Recovery https://www.cpha.ca/resources
  • Supporting CPHA/CHASE/OPHA case studies/educational campaign for public health professionals 2022/2023 on strategies they can employ to advance climate action, population health and health equity.

Recent Advocacy

  • Submitted comments on the following policy proposals at the provincial and federal level
    • Canada’s Climate Change National Adaptation Strategy (2022)
    • Health Canada’s risk assessment for benzene release from gas stations (2022)
    • Creation of a Canada Clean Water Agency (2021)
    • Government of Ontario’s “climate plans” (2015 to 2020)
    • Changes to the Ontario Building Code e.g. energy efficiency, environmental and public health protections, water systems, Legionella control, radon protection measures, heat-protective measures etc. (2022)
    • Collaboration with the Built Environment Workgroup to provide comments on several proposed provincial legislative changes related to land-use planning and development (Bill 23, provincial policy statement, greenbelt protections, transportation planning, environmental assessments, affordable housing)
    • Proposed Updates to the Land Use Compatibility Guidelines (2021)
  • Submitted joint letters with other health organizations to federal government
    • Healthy and Sustainable Child Care Environments – A Vision for Canada (2022)
    • Fossil Fuel Advertising – a Public Health Crisis (2022)
    • Emissions Cap for the Oil and Gas Sector (2022)
    • Canada’s Climate Action Plan (2021)
    • Climate Crisis (2021)
    • Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program (2021)
    • CO2 emissions (2021/various)
  • Signed on to various environmental health joint statements through the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health & Environment e.g. Bill C226, Bill 23, CEPA updates. https://healthyenvironmentforkids.ca/joint-statements-by-cpche-partner-organizations/
  • Participated in roundtable of health and environmental organizations (April 2023) on opportunities to advocate for a national strategy on electrifying Canada’s medium and heavy-duty vehicles and highlight the health benefits of moving away from fossil fuels.
  • Presented on OPHA’s collaborative projects on climate action for health at various conferences and workshops (CPHA, OPHA, CIPHI, TOPHC, Health Canada’s Health Adapt Initiative, NCCDH, EcoHealth Ontario).