Environmental Health

The Environmental Health Workgroup champions issues related to environmental health and has been working to build organizational capacity in this field since the 1970s. The workgroup seeks to influence government policy and programs, supports and advocates for other organizations working 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].

2014-15 Environmental Health Workgroup Workplan [PDF]

The Mission/Mandate

The workgroup is currently focused on such issues as:

  • Air quality and climate change;
  • Children’s health and the environment;
  • Water quality (drinking/recreational/source water protection);
  • Environment and cancer;
  • Energy and health.


  • Participate on the Ontario Heat Health Network with Health Canada, Environment Canada, the Clean Air Partnership and Ontario health units to develop a harmonized Heat Alert and Response System
  • Participate on the Ecohealth Collaborative with health units, conservation authorities, forestry, and the David Suzuki Foundation to conduct a systematic review to answer the question of how nature influences human health.
  • Participate on the MOHLTC’s Public Health Sector Strategic Plan’s Built Environment Table to identify and implement actions to improve health outcomes related to the built environment.
  • Participate on the MOE Air Standards Multi-Stakeholder Group (industry and NGOs) to provide input on regulatory options for industry to meet the standards and to advocate for health-based standards.
  • Active on the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE) to raise awareness on children’s exposure to contaminants in the environment. Health Canada has expressed interest in working with CPCHE to increase awareness on radon. CPCHE is considering a three-pronged approach to raising awareness on radon, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
  • Release of the “School Buses, Air Pollution and Children’s Health: Improving Children’s Health and Local Air Quality by Reducing School Bus Emissions” report in 2005. This report exposes negative health impacts associated with diesel-fuelled school buses and our children.
  • Responses to a number of provincial and national regulatory and policy proposals including:
    • Bill 43 – An Act to Protect Existing and Future Sources of Drinking Water – Presentation to Standing Committee with alPHa
    • Submitted comments on amendments for the CEPA Five-Year Review Process
    • Environmental Bill of Rights Posting on the development of a regulation on source protection committees made under the Clean Water Act, 2006
    • Letter to the Hon. Dwight Duncan re: electricity supply mix and public health considerations
    • Participated on the Healthy Indoor Air Partnership Roundtable and the development of a Buyer’s Guide on air filters

Recent Accomplishments

  • Completed work on the Toxics Reduction Strategy – Living List Framework, as part of the Ministry of the Environment’s Multi-Stakeholder Group with industry and NGOs. The Framework outlines the process for adding and deleting substances to the Ministry’s list of regulated substances under the Toxics Reduction Act. (For substances on this list, industries must track amount used and released, make the information available to the public, and develop a toxics reduction plan. Industry is not required to implement the plan).
  • Participated on the Carbon Monoxide Alarms Technical Advisory Committee to assist in the development of a provincial standard for the installation and maintenance of carbon monoxide alarms in existing residences with fuel fired heating systems or appliances.
  • Received a two-year Trillium Grant that will enable the group to facilitate train-the-trainer sessions with 40 children’s environmental health Champions in 5 regions. This will enhance the ability of local community groups and service providers to deliver high quality children’s environmental health programming in their communities.
  • Representatives of the workgroup participated in the Ontario Ministry of Environment Roundtable Consultation on Clean Air and Climate Change, which lead to the government’s climate change policies.
  • Our position paper, Fish Consumption, With Respect To Methyl mercury Content, By Pregnant Women, Women of Childbearing Age and Young Children [PDF], has resulted in the formation of workgroup comprised of various Public Health professionals who are developing common messages.
  • The OPHA, in collaboration with the Association of Supervisors of Public Health Inspectors of Ontario [ASPHIO], conducted a survey in 2016 to capture the range of activities that Ontario PHUs are involved in related to climate change.The purpose of this report is to highlight the importance of addressing climate change by drawing attention to health impacts, government efforts to tackle climate change, and the rationale behind why PHU’s are well-placed to address the issue. Most importantly, this report aims to summarize the findings of OPHA and ASPHIO’s ‘Climate Change and Public Health Survey,’ and provide recommendations for future dialogue.