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Health vulnerability to extreme heat events among immigrants in Hamilton, Ontario

Authors: Joann Varickanickal*, McMaster University
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Medical and Health Geography, Canada
Keywords: Climate change, Extreme Heat, Health, Immigrants
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate change is expected to impact Canada in several ways, including through an increase in the number and extent of extreme heat events (EHEs) (Paterson et al., 2012). An increase in the likelihood and severity of heat events should be a concern for Canadian communities as high temperatures can cause human morbidity and mortality (Watts et al., 2015). In Canada, health vulnerability among immigrants is important to consider as Canada welcomes many immigrants every year, and is home to a diversity of ethnic backgrounds (Hankivsky, 2014). The objective of this project is to explore if immigrants in Hamilton Ontario, are especially vulnerable to health impacts related to EHEs. To fulfill the objective, this project will seek to answer the following questions: 1) How do immigrants in Hamilton cope with EHEs? 2) Are there barriers immigrants in Hamilton face when trying to cope with EHEs? If so, what are these barriers? and 3) Do immigrants in Hamilton experience adverse health impacts from EHEs? One-on-one interviews were conducted with approximately 12 immigrants and 10 direct and indirect immigrant service providers in Hamilton. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded and analyzed thematically. In addition to gender and age as predictors of vulnerability to EHEs, preliminary results show that language may be a barrier to immigrants, and specifically newcomers, receiving precautions to take during EHEs. Limited access to and use of technology and social media may also be a barrier to immigrants receiving information related to EHEs.

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