CBC’s Metro Morning ran an item this morning regarding a photo of the Toronto skyline in all its smog-laden splendour. A postcard with the same picture is being auctioned off on eBay in order to raise awareness of the dangers of air pollution.
A 2000 report put out by then City of Toronto Medical Officer of Health determined the number of deaths due to air pollution:
We quantified the air pollution risk in Toronto using two different methods and found that there were between 730 and 1,400 premature deaths, and between 3,300 and 7,600 hospital admissions each year associated with air pollution breathed by the public at large.
In addition, Health Canada performed their own survey for Ontario:
Health Canada says smog is responsible for 7.7 per cent of all the premature deaths in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, London and Windsor.
If a similar report came out with “SARS” substituted for “air pollution” and “smog”, you can bet that the entire southern portion of Ontario would be placed under an immediate alert and long-term quarantine amid calls for a massive overhaul of the provincial health care system. Instead, the province is calling for limits on BBQ usage and, in true fashion, attempting to place the blame on someone else, none of which are solutions. The province needs to start by introducing strict mandatory emission controls instead of voluntary caps which are easily broken. If the province truly intends to keep the coal-burning plants running until 2015, we can start with those. Sure, it will cost money in the short run, but it will save thousands of lives and could very well create jobs in the process.