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Public health not protected by current assessment process

Dr. Twila Burgmann and the Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment believe a proper health impact assessment needs to be part of the environmental assessment process.
November 08, 2013 - 11:27 AM

KAMLOOPS – Local health practitioners continue to release information over the lack of proper procedures for ensuring public health under current environmental assessment processes.

Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment released a resolution from the Health Officers Council of B.C. concluding a health impact assessment must be considered for all projects under the Environmental Assessment Act. The April resolution notes the impact assessment should be performed and externally funded as part of the review process.

The council passed a resolution a year before with the intent to improve methods for health impact assessments but after little progress decided to take it a step further this past April. Concern around the number of projects proposed over the year and the lack of guidance specific to health assessments in the act led to the resolution this past spring.

In a release Friday morning the local physicians group shared the resolution to show the concern around a lack of health impact assessment for large projects, such as the proposed Ajax mine, are shared by colleagues at the provincial level.

Dr. Jill Calder says the resolution is related to a nine-page letter from Dr. Peter Barss sent to the Environmental Health Assessment office in 2012. The local group obtained the letter through a freedom of information request, which led to obtaining a copy of the resolution as well.

“I don't know the next steps, but the Health Officers Council is the highest forum for making policies and suggestions,” Calder says. “(The resolution) is very informative, it shows there's been a lot of concerns on some projects for some time.”

The council is a registered society aimed at advising and advocating for public policies and programs directed at improving the health of populations. The more than 90 members come from a wide range of backgrounds, including regional health authorities and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

To contact a reporter for this story, email, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
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