Due to climate changes, B.C. is experiencing an increase in average summer temperatures and extremely hot days.
Last updated: May 29, 2023
Although B.C. is historically considered more temperate than the rest of Canada, the province has already experienced two deadly extreme heat events and more events are expected as the climate changes. In 2009 there were more than 100 excess deaths in one week due to heatwave that affected the greater Vancouver area. In 2021 there were more than 700 excess deaths in one week due to an unprecedented heat dome that affected the entire province.
In response to the 2021 heat dome, multiple health sector partners and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) have developed a BC Heat Alert and Response System (BC HARS). This system lays out the criteria that ECCC will use to issue a Heat Warning or an Extreme Heat Emergency alert, the appropriate public health messaging for both types of alerts, and the recommended actions for health sector and other partners. The province will continue to refine and improve the BC HARS in the years ahead.
In order to ensure that municipalities and health authorities are prepared for the public health risks posed by extreme heat, BCCDC assessed current perceptions and levels of preparedness of health authorities and municipalities regarding extreme heat.
This review describes the interest in and approaches to addressing the risks associated with extreme heat by health authorities and municipalities in BC. From these findings, gaps in knowledge will be shown and recommendations made to advance heat response planning in BC.
This guide can be used to help BC municipalities develop extreme heat plans, ideally in a way that these plans are integrated with existing emergency preparedness strategies.