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Heat waves are increasing across Canada — and hotter nights are also dangerous – CBC.ca

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When it comes to climate change, there is one fairly well-understood extreme that will affect humans in the decades to come: heat.  

Scientists know that climate change will see events like hurricanes, droughts, floods and heat waves increase in frequency or intensity. But when it comes to heat waves in particular, it’s already being seen across the world with deadly consequences. According to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet, more than five million deaths annually between 2000 and 2019 were associated with “non-optimal temperatures,” with roughly 500,000 of these deaths related to heat. 

While many of these deaths occur in tropical countries, heat waves are beginning to affect more northerly climes.

During the heat wave that suffocated British Columbia at the end of June into the first week of July, more than 800 people (as of this writing) died in the province. For comparison, in the same period last year, there were 232 deaths, according to B.C. Coroners Service’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jatinder Baidwan. The coroner’s office is continuing to investigate all of the deaths in order to nail down exactly how many were heat-related.

A man leaves a community centre in Toronto during a heat wave earlier this month. Some cities have been opening cooling centres during heat waves for people who do not have access to air conditioning. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

While we know that daytime temperatures are rising, in some regions — specifically in parts of Ontario and Quebec — nighttime temperatures are warming faster

Those warmer nights mean our bodies don’t have any time to cool off. For people with health issues like heart disease or asthma, for example, this can be extremely problematic and potentially deadly.

“Our bodies were not designed to put up with environmental heats that exceed the high 30s,” Baidwan said. “If you think about it, what happens to an air conditioning unit? When you stress it, it builds up with lots of ice on the outside and then it stops working. And in some ways that’s a great analogy for what happens to our bodies. With extreme heat, we just find it really hard to do the usual homeostatic sort of mechanisms and protocols that happen in our body.”

WATCH | How can we better prepare our homes and buildings for rising temperatures?

After a record-breaking heat wave in B.C., experts weigh in on long-term and efficient infrastructure solutions. 5:59

The heat wave that affected the Pacific Northwest was highly unusual — a one in 1,000-year occurrence, according to a recent analysis by the group World Weather Attribution, a collection of scientists who analyze severe weather events. However, parts of eastern Canada, including Ontario and Quebec, are seeing more frequent heat waves and tropical nights, defined as nighttime temperatures 20 C or higher. 

For example, according to the Climate Atlas of Canada, the number of tropical nights in Toronto averaged roughly 6.9 annually from 1976 to 2005. With climate change, under a scenario where carbon emissions decline substantially, that is expected to climb to 17.6 annually from 2021 to 2050.

If current rates of carbon emissions continue, the average number of tropical nights in Toronto is expected to hit 20.6 annually from 2021 to 2050. From 2051 to 2080, under the two different scenarios for emissions, the average number would rise to 26.4 and 42.8 respectively.

In 2018, a heat wave blanketed Montreal from June 29 to July 5; temperatures averaged roughly 34 C during the day. Nighttime temperatures didn’t fall below 20 C. In all, 66 people died.

“We’re seeing an increase in hot extremes in Canada that’s larger than the global mean warming,” said Nathan Gillet, a research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “The average warming in Canada is about twice the global mean warming. And the heat extremes are also increasing at a similar rate. And it’s not just the hottest, maximum temperatures, but the minimum temperatures, the nighttime minimums that are also increasing.”

Widespread effects on nature

Average temperatures in Canada have already warmed by 1.7 C and the country is warming at more than twice the rate of the planet. 

Increasing heat waves with higher-than-average temperatures during days and nights are also taking a toll on animals and delicate ecosystems, as well as crops.

A study published in the journal Global Change Biology last October found that nighttime temperatures are rising across most of the world. In those areas that saw more nighttime temperature warming than daytime, there was more cloud cover, higher precipitation and more humidity. This can affect nocturnal animals, but also animals that are active during the day who use the cooler nighttime temperatures to recover from heat stress.

Dead fish are seen floating in Alberta’s Pembina River. The fish are thought to have died due to the heat wave across Alberta that resulted in low oxygen in rivers and lakes earlier this month. (Stephanie Coombs/CBC)

“[The changes] increase the boundaries at which nocturnal species can operate. So you may get shifts in ranges, which then messes up ecosystems from changing competition and changing predation/prey relationships, and things like that,” said Daniel Cox, lead author of the study and a research associate in the U.K. at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute.

A new set of metrics

With the changing climate, governments are finding they need a new set of metrics for severe heat events. 

In 2013, Australia added new colours to their heat maps, as temperatures soared beyond anything they’d experienced in the past.

More recently, on Tuesday, the U.K. Met Office issued its first Amber Extreme Heat Warning as temperatures were forecast to rise to the 30s in parts of the country. Daytime temperatures in the 30s may not seem high compared to some parts of Canada but it’s all about what people are accustomed to. 

In another example of how governments are attempting to adapt to a warming climate, a team from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Quebec, together with the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) announced on Wednesday that a new heat wave warning threshold for the province should be introduced. Quebec’s warm seasons, researchers said, are starting earlier and ending later. 

As Earth continues to warm, air conditioning may seem like a possible solution. The problem is that energy is needed to operate them, and this also produces heat. And cities create “heat islands” where heating is further amplified by  concrete structures, adding more stress to people who are living in a hotter climate. Some cities like Toronto and Montreal are trying to introduce greener building codes and designs to address this. 

“[Heat waves aren’t] something we think about as a big hazard in Canada, but as the climate warms, we’re going to see this more and more,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Gillet. “Heat waves cause deaths and and are dangerous. And yeah, it is something … that we’re going to see more and more here in Canada.”

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Ontario and New Brunswick rolled out vaccine passport systems on Wednesday that require people who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to show proof of vaccination before entering non-essential indoor spaces. 

The programs require people who are eligible for the vaccines to show proof of vaccination at non-essential businesses where large numbers of people gather, including dine-in restaurants, gyms, sports events and clubs.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, urged people to be patient as workers and businesses adjust to the new requirement. Moore said he hopes the new system will help boost vaccination rates — particularly among 20- to 39-year-olds, who currently have the highest rate of infection in Ontario.

Proof-of-vaccination systems are becoming more common across Canada, as governments work to boost vaccination rates amid increasing COVID-19 numbers. However, the systems are not without controversy — some view them as an infringement on individual rights, others argue that the systems put undue burdens on businesses that have already been hit hard by pandemic closures and ever-changing regulations.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged the divisions around vaccine mandates at a news conference on Wednesday, but he said the province can’t afford to shut down again or see another sudden surge in cases.

The vaccine certificate system is a temporary and exceptional measure, Ford said, as he again urged people to be patient as businesses adapt.

WATCH | Ford says vaccine passports will help keep businesses open:

Ontario vaccine certificate ‘temporary and exceptional,’ says premier

10 hours ago

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged that vaccine certificates are a ‘divisive issue,’ but says they will help keep business open through the fourth wave of COVID-19. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press) 1:01

Ford said the province would not use the program for “one day longer” than needed.

But when asked later at the news conference about what metrics he would use to determine when the vaccine passport requirements would be lifted, he didn’t offer specifics. The premier instead said the decision, when it came, would be made based on advice from the chief medical officer of health and the province’s science table.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 463 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths.

The systems put in place by officials in Ontario and New Brunswick allow for medical exemptions for people with documentation from their health-care provider.

However, experts in New Brunswick tell CBC that medical exemptions are rare because there’s little to no reason people physically can’t get vaccinated.

People wait in line at a mass vaccination and testing clinic for COVID-19 at the Moncton Coliseum in Moncton, N.B., on Wednesday, as new proof of vaccination rules take effect. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

In announcing New Brunswick’s new rules last week, Premier Blaine Higgs said the province’s original target of having 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated is no longer enough with the new highly transmissible variants. The goal is now 90 per cent.

Also starting Wednesday, New Brunswickers are once again required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

The province reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a new record high for daily cases. It also reported one additional death. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said the province is on a trajectory to have 100 new cases confirmed per day, every day.

From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Alberta premier shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity: 

Kenney shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney named former labour minister Jason Copping the new health minister after shuffling Tyler Shandro out of the role as the province’s hospitals near capacity and Kenney faces growing calls for his own resignation. 2:01


What’s happening around the world

German Health Minister Jens Spahn gives a press statement in Berlin as the country changed its approach to financial support for people who are not vaccinated. (Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images)

As of Wednesday evening, more than 229.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

In Europe, Germany will stop sick pay for unvaccinated people who have to go into quarantine because of COVID-19. Previously, Germans could claim for income lost due to having to go into quarantine after returning from abroad or coming into contact with a positive case.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said the move was a matter of “fairness,” arguing that by the time the new rule comes into force on Nov. 1, everyone who wants a vaccine will have had an opportunity to get one. Those who choose not to “will need to bear responsibility for this then, including the financial costs,” he said.

Germany has fully vaccinated 63.4 per cent of its population. The government has said it wants to achieve a vaccination rate of 75 per cent to prevent a sharp rise in cases during the winter months.

In the Asia-Pacific region, officials in the northeast China city of Harbin say national level health officials have been sent to the city to deal with what may be a coronavirus outbreak. The city of 9.5 million people reported three infection cases on Wednesday, a day after discovering a first case of community transmission.

A medical worker collects a sample to be tested for COVID-19 in Harbin, in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province, on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

After the initial finding, authorities started mass testing and closed schools. The city also ordered businesses such as mahjong parlours, cinemas and gyms to shut. City authorities say residents must display a negative virus test to be able to leave for only essential travel. Otherwise, people are being told to stay home.

In the Middle East, as coronavirus infections plummet and vaccinations accelerate in the United Arab Emirates, authorities have loosened a long-standing face mask mandate.

The Gulf Arab sheikhdom said Wednesday that residents no longer need to wear masks while exercising outdoors or visiting beaches and pools in the country. Those who receive medical or beauty treatments may also forgo the mask. However, face masks will still be required in indoor spaces such as shopping malls and public transportation.

WATCH | Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results for kids under 12: 

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine appears promising for kids under 12

Pfizer says its latest clinical trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results in children under 12, raising the hopes of many parents with unvaccinated children. 2:01

In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, just back from the United Nations, isolated himself at home on Wednesday and cancelled a trip after his health minister tested positive for COVID-19 and had to stay in quarantine in New York. 

Bolsonaro defied UN rules that asked all those attending the assembly be inoculated against the coronavirus and was the only member of his entourage in New York who has not been vaccinated. Before travelling to the United States, he said he believed his antibody count from a bout with COVID-19 protected him better than a vaccine.

Meanwhile, United Airlines officials said 97 per cent of its U.S. employees are fully vaccinated, with less than a week to go before United employees face a deadline to get the shots or get fired. The Chicago-based airline has 67,000 U.S. employees.

In Africa, officials with the World Health Organization’s Africa region said this week that 14 countries on the continent had reached a goal of fully vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September. But the same health officials noted that a “crippling vaccine supply shortage” remains a major issue for countries across Africa.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

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Evolution of Canada as a Modern Payments Leader

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With Silicon Valley taking most of the tech headlines from the North American continent, Japan being regularly publicized for its leaps in robotic technologies, and the UAE constantly investing in the latest tech, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many forget about Canada as a leader in the world.

However, just because Canada doesn’t command international headlines doesn’t mean that the country hasn’t proven to be incredibly tech-savvy, especially in the realms of payments and money. As a developed market, Canada has long boasted one of the highest credit card penetration rates in the world, at 83 percent (17 percent higher than the United States).

This is the start of a trend that will likely see Canada become the example of how payments around the world will take place, especially as it’s reported that the country will likely be the first to banish banknotes. Already, over 80 percent of Canadian bank transactions are made digitally, with there being many solutions available to the population. Yet, there’s more to come from the world-leading market in modern payments.

Rapid adoption of innovative cashless payment services

 

Source: Pixabay

While VISA, MasterCard, and American Express still form the foundations of much of Canada’s payments preferences, eWallet and mobile payment solutions have become incredibly prevalent. Both PayPal and Apple Pay boast a strong customer base across the country, with a 2019 survey indicating that over 20 percent of Canadians had the PayPal app, with over 15 percent installing the Apple Pay app.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, due to the influx of these once-termed ‘alternative’ payment methods, new industries have quickly embraced them to appeal to Canadians. This isn’t anywhere more apparent than with the online casino industry, with the very best accepting PayPal as well as Skrill, Neteller, Trustly, and the two card providers. By offering these safe and popular methods, players are happy to try out thousands of online games.

PayPal looks to be positioning itself as the leader of a cashless Canada, and yet it’ll be expanding its offering even further soon. In September 2021, PayPal paid US$2.7 billion to acquire Japanese online payments firm Paidy, which specializes in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and payments without credit cards. This could further enhance its appeal to the Canadian population.

Growing into an ever-more digital space for money

Source: Unsplash

Despite the rate of adoption of the newer or tech-savvy payment methods among customers, many still experience payment friction. It was found that over half of all Canadians have experienced a vendor not accepting their preferred payment method or there being a limit on the amount that can be transferred with any one purchase. This is why PayPal’s entry into BNPL could enhance its scope in Canada.

The BNPL market is tipped to be worth nearly US$4 trillion by the end of this decade, making it a powerhouse option in eCommerce. It will certainly become popular in less-developed markets, where people want more expensive goods than they can afford outright. However, it also has its place in a market like Canada, which will make all tiers of purchase more accessible to all, particularly if the PayPal rollout gains traction.

Another digital area of finance that Canada is seen to be particularly smitten with is that of cryptocurrencies. The government has created a remarkably crypto-friendly regulatory landscape, helping all kinds of coins to know where they stand, appeal to Canadians, and be used across the country. It’s said that around 1.2 million people (3.2 percent of the population) own cryptocurrencies in Canada already.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Canada is tipped to become the first cashless nation in the world, particularly with the adoption rate of eWallets and the embrace of even more modern solutions.

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Alberta province replaces health minister

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The premier Alberta province replaced his health minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, as a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases swamped the healthcare system and the government came under fire for mishandling the pandemic.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney replaced Tyler Shandro with Jason Copping, who previously served as minister of labour and immigration. Shandro took Copping’s former role.

Hospitals in Canada‘s western oil-producing province are buckling under a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. There are a record number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and Alberta has cancelled all non-elective surgeries and discussed transferring patients to other provinces.

United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Kenney and Shandro both face criticism for loosening public health measures much faster than other provinces earlier this year and delaying proof of vaccination requirements as cases started to rise.

“This cabinet shuffle is once again Jason Kenney refusing to take responsibility for his actions and his decisions,” independent lawmaker Drew Barnes, a member of the legislative assembly, told Reuters. “The best thing he could do is resign.”

Barnes was thrown out of the UCP caucus in May for publicly calling for Kenney’s resignation.

Alberta is a conservative stronghold but support for the federal party led by Erin O’Toole slipped in Monday’s election, which some Conservatives blamed on dissatisfaction with Kenney.

On Tuesday the province wrote to the federal government formally requesting more critical care staff and for help transporting patients out of Alberta.

 

(Reporting by Nia Williams; editing by Barbara Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall)

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