Monday, 18 August 2008

Action on Air Quality: A Failing Grade

A statement from Dr Carolyn Bennett (MP, St Paul's) on the recent CMA report on the health and economic costs of declining air quality, and the federal government's poor performance in this area. --Bryan

Conservatives must act now on air quality – Bennett
For Immediate Release August 13, 2008

OTTAWA – A medical report issued today is further evidence that continued inaction by the Conservative government on air pollution is costing Canadian lives, Liberal Public Health Critic Carolyn Bennett said today.

‘The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) makes it clear that we have to act now on air quality,’ said Dr. Bennett. ‘The government talks a lot, but they aren’t taking this issue seriously.’

Dr. Bennett was commenting on a report released today by the CMA that predicts air pollution will claim the lives of 21,000 Canadians this year alone, and expects another 710,000 deaths because of long-term exposure to air pollution by 2031.

‘The health and economic costs are staggering and it is obvious that we need to take real action to improve air quality,’ said Dr. Bennett.

The report also predicts the economic impact of air pollution because of worker absenteeism, higher health care costs and other factors will reach $10 billion and could total more than $300 billion between now and 2031.

‘The Harper government is not fulfilling its responsibility to protect the lives and health of Canadians. Their inaction is the equivalent of playing poker with their lives.’

Today’s report comes the same week that Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn came under fire for pandering to the fast food industry over the issue of idling vehicles and the dangers of the emissions they cause. Mr. Lunn chose to ignore scientific evidence and Canadians’ health by tampering with his department’s website, and increasing the recommended maximum time that cars should idle.

This also comes on the heels of news that the Conservatives’ much-touted air quality regulations, which were so badly designed that both environmentalists and industry opposed them. Not a single regulation has even been drafted due to Conservative mismanagement and the government has turned the whole thing over to an Advisory Committee to sort out the mess.

‘For the last two and a half years the Harper government has been claiming it is serious about addressing air quality and environmental issues, but the reality is the opposite,’ Dr. Bennett added.