The federal government is claiming that Canadians are suffering from “eco-anxiety” caused by fears of climate change and that people have been driven to commit suicide because of extreme heat, while citing no supporting data.
Environment and Climate Change Canada said in a report titled Climate Science 2050: Advancing Science And Knowledge On Climate Change that “the need to understand the mental health effects of climate change has increased in response to a growing number of Canadians experiencing climate-related grief, traumas and anxieties,” as reported by Blacklock's Reporter.
“The magnitude and urgency of the climate change challenge cannot be overstated,” the report stated, adding that the department would “monitor the mental health effects related to climate hazards, e.g. traumas related to experiencing wildfires or flooding; violence, aggression and suicide related to extreme heat; and the mental health effects of experiencing climate change more broadly, e.g. eco-anxiety or ecological and climate grief.”
Data from Statistics Canada, however, shows that suicide rates have been on the decline in Canada; the country has a lower suicide rate than a number of other developed nations such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Finland, according to information from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The report said that federal regulators needed a better understanding of how youth are experiencing “eco-anxiety or eco-grief” while providing no specific data to back up the claim. However, a Public Safety Canada report from August did mention that Canadian youth considered climate change a more pressing safety issue when compared to guns, gangs, drugs or traffic accidents.
In that study, Human Trafficking Public Awareness Research, 57 per cent of young people aged 16–25 considered climate change to be “an extremely serious threat.” More than 25 per cent of these young Canadians considered climate change to be the “most serious issue,” compared to just 13 per cent for illegal drugs and nine per cent for guns and gangs. Traffic accidents were not ranked as the top issue by any of the respondents.