New Safety Challenges in Canadian Agriculture

Jun 21, 2024

Impacts on health, safety, and economy growing 


As Canada experiences more extreme weather conditions, such as intense heatwaves and severe storms, the agricultural sector faces increasing safety challenges.  

Heat stress is a major concern for farmers, especially in regions British Columbia and Nova Scotia, which have experienced significant temperature rises in recent years. The heat not only affects the farmers' ability to work safely but also increases healthcare costs.  

For example, a heatwave in British Columbia in June 2021 resulted in over 600 deaths, illustrating the deadly impact of extreme temperatures.  

Air quality is another significant issue affecting agricultural workers. Smoke from wildfires, combined with dust and other pollutants from farming equipment, contributes to poor air quality that can lead to serious respiratory problems.  

The warmer and wetter conditions brought by climate change also encourage the spread of pests and diseases, which can devastate crops and pose health risks to farmers.  

For instance, the prevalence of Lyme disease in Canada is expected to increase dramatically by 2050, leading to higher healthcare costs.  

Extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, further challenge farming practices. 

These conditions can lead to crop damage and loss, which not only affects farmers' incomes but also contributes to food insecurity. For example, wildfires in 2021 led to a significant decline in wheat and canola production.  

The economic impact of these changes is vast, affecting everything from the price of food to the stability of jobs in the agricultural sector. As the environment continues to change, Canadian farmers are forced to adapt to new realities that threaten their livelihoods and mental health – another safety challenge.  

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