Invest in Public Transit – It Benefits Everyone!

Prepared by Kim Perrotta MHSc, Executive Director, CAPE

Traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is a huge problem.   Many of us agree that we need to expand and improve public transit service to get cars off the road.  Huge strides have been made to improve public transit across the region over the last 10 years by all levels of government.  However, a significant funding gap still exists.  We need to let the candidates running for election know that we see public transit as an essential service that benefits all of us! Find your candidate here: (http://www.qpbriefing.com/2017/01/05/nominated-candidates-for-the-2018-ontario-provincial-election/)

Let your candidates know why public transit should be a priority:

  • It improves air quality, preventing hundreds of early deaths each year
  • It reduces chronic diseases that cost billions of dollars each year
  • It decreases traffic congestion that costs about $6 billion per year   
  • It increases access to jobs and recreation for those who cannot drive or do not have cars 
  • It slows climate climate and helps to secure a healthy future for our children.

Traffic-related air pollution in the GTHA gives rise to about 1000 early deaths and 3000 to 4000 hospital admissions each year.  Air pollution contributes to strokes and heart attacks. It aggravates asthma and respiratory infections.  It increases rates of heart disease and lung disease.   By investing in public transit across the region, we can reduce air pollution, save hundreds of lives each year, and reduce health care spending.

Each year, approximately 7,000 residents in the GTHA will develop heart disease and another 60,000 will develop diabetes.  The rates of these and other chronic diseases can be reduced by increasing levels of physical activity.  Studies have shown that people who take public transit get much of the physical activity needed to maintain their health because they walk or cycle at one or both ends of their transit trip.  By investing in public transit, we can increase physical activity, reduce chronic diseases, prevent hundreds of early deaths each year, and reduce health-related costs by nearly $1 billion each year.

With 7.1 million people living in the GTHA, residents in the region make approximately 13.6 million trips per day.  With the current population, traffic congestion costs us about $6 billion per year in delays, vehicle operating costs, traffic collisions, and lost economic activity.  These delays create stress and lost-time for drivers.  Time that could be spent with family or friends.   Time that could be spent playing soccer or riding a bike.  By investing in public transit, we can reduce traffic congestiondecrease lost time and stress for drivers, and save billions of dollars.

Transit also increases access to jobs, services and recreational opportunities for those who cannot drive or who do not own cars.  In this way, it can increase health, the quality of life, and opportunities for all members in our society.

The World Health Organization has declared climate change to be the greatest public health threat of the 21st century.  In Ontario, the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.  Transit generates far fewer greenhouse gases than travel by car.  By investing in transit, we can reduce greenhouse gases, meet our commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, and secure a healthy future for our children.

As we head into a Provincial election it is more important than ever to let your candidates know that public transit is an important investment that will benefit everyone!!  

Find your candidate here: http://www.qpbriefing.com/2017/01/05/nominated-candidates-for-the-2018-ontario-provincial-election/

Advertisements

Big Step Forward on Agricultural Pesticides in Quebec

Prepared by Randall McQuaker, Pesticides Director, & Kim Perrotta, Executive Director CAPE

On February 19th, the Quebec Minister for Sustainable Development announced a new law for pesticides which represents a huge leap forward for provincial laws in Canada. It includes a ban on five pesticides that are commonly used in the agricultural sector – three neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics), atrazine and chlorpyrifos. Neonics are harmful to bees and many other living organisms in the ecosystem, chlorpyrifos was recently named a “toxicant” to children’s development by the State of California, and atrazine has been banned in Europe for more than a decade.

In July 2015, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to restrict the use of neonics when it passed a regulation that aims to reduce the acreage upon which neonic-treated seeds were used, by 80%, by 2017. That regulation allows farmers to use neonics where an independent pest specialist demonstrates that they are needed to treat an existing pest infestation.

To date, however, the Ontario regulation has fallen far short of achieving the intended goal. New figures from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs show that the number of acres planted with treated seed in 2017 was down by just 22 per cent for corn and 27 per cent for soybeans, compared to 2014. Last year, some 61,500 tonnes of treated seed were sold in Ontario and about 3-million acres were planted with neonic-treated seeds. A new target date for achieving the 80 per cent reduction goal has not been announced.

The new Quebec legislation will also allow farmers to use the banned pesticides with a “prescription” from a certified agricultural specialist. While the regulations take a major step in the right direction, much more is needed. The new regulations do not set clear targets and timelines for the complete elimination of the highest-risk pesticides. And we have concerns that the exceptions allowed with “prescriptions” from agronomists could become the rule, and undermine the intent of the bans. The good news is that a committee, which will include representation by Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation, is being established to monitor the implementation of the law.

In the meantime, the case for the complete banning of neonics has gotten stronger. The independent international Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, which has declared that neonics are threatening the ecosystems on which humans depend for food, clothing and shelter, released a new report in February 2018. After analyzing some 200 peer-reviewed scientific studies, the Task Force has found that insect pests quickly develop resistance to neonic pesticides, calling their long-term use into question. The study also notes that alternative practices such as field rotation and planting resistant crop varieties are more effective at reducing pests, less expensive, and less harmful to the environment than application of neonic pesticides.

References:

· Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, February 19, 2018. Press Release: “Mise en œuvre de la Stratégie québécoise sur les pesticides – Meilleure protection pour la santé, l’environnement et les abeilles.” http://www.mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca/infuseur/communique.asp?no=3921

· Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, February 2018. “Neonicotinoid Regulations for Seed Vendors: End of year reporting (2017).” Access at https://www.ontario.ca/page/neonicotinoid-regulations-seed-vendors#section-5

· Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, 2015. “Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impacts of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems.” Access at http://www.tfsp.info/assets/WIA_2015.pdf

· Furlan, Lorenzo et al. “An Update on the worldwide integrated assessment (WIA) on systemic insecticides. Part 3: alternatives to systemic insecticides.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2018. Access at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11356-017-1052-5