Canadian Physician Mothers for a Healthy Recovery from Covid-19

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Canadian Physician Mothers across the country are asking Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet to invest in a “Healthy Recovery” from COVID-19. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) has created a Health Recovery Plan which includes 25 recommendations to address climate change and protect Canadian lives as the country recovers from COVID-19.

Dr. Sarah Tuck is a local physician and mother who has thrown her support behind CAPE’s recommendations. She believes that as the Canadian government makes plans and spends money to help the country recovery from COVID-19, the focus should be on making sure Canada meets its commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. “If we throw money back into the economy the way we were before, we are not going to be on track,” she says.

According to the report prepared by CAPE, the government should be investing money in things like renewable energy, sustainable transportation, sustainable homes and buildings, sustainable healthcare, and connecting to nature. Modelling in the report, prepared by Navius Research, shows that if Canada reaches its climate targets, air quality improvement alone would save an estimated 112,081 lives between 2030 and 2050.

Dr. Tuck says she has always felt that addressing the climate emergency is the most important initiative facing the modern world. With COVID-19, she has been very focused on her work as a physician, both in North Grenville and Ottawa, and making sure that her young family is safe and cared for. However, when she found out about CAPE’s Healthy Recovery Plan through a Canadian Physician Mothers Facebook group, she knew she wanted to get involved. “Physicians are community leaders, and I don’t think that leadership has to end with medicine,” she says. “Climate change is a health emergency, and it is important that we do everything we can to keep people healthy.”

Physicians know that climate change affects people’s health in many ways. Increasing planetary temperature exacerbate natural disasters, which directly affect people’s health and wellbeing. The effects of climate change also lead to increased rates of heart disease, asthma, stroke and the prevalence of diseases like Lyme Disease, which is directly related to shifts in the environment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four healthcare facilities globally lack basic water services, something that will only be exacerbated by climate change. “Our healthcare system is stressed due to climate change,” Dr. Tuck says. “We are not prepared to have an efficient and effective response.”

According to Dr. Tuck, addressing climate change will help the healthcare system become more resilient in addressing future challenges. She says that the fact that the government acted quite quickly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that they have the ability to take the steps needed to address climate change and reach the country’s 2050 emission targets. “It has to be a momentous type of change,” she says. “We know that kind of mobilization is possible, and it will save hundreds of thousands of lives.”

As a mother, Dr. Tuck is passionate about being an advocate for the causes she believes in and setting a good example for her children. “I want my kids to see that I am an activist, and I want them to be activists too,” she says. “I want them to face the future with pas- sion and hope that they can make a difference.”

Dr. Tuck is part of a video created by Canadian Physician Mothers across Canada, asking elected officials to take the recommendations from CAPE seriously and to throw support and money behind leading Canada into a greener and healthier future. In the video, she is standing with her co-MD moms and dads at the West COVID Care Clinic at the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa, but her hometown of Kemptville is also proudly displayed. The video can be found on YouTube under Canadian Physician Mothers for a Health Recovery from COVID-19, or at: https://youtu.be/XPhbKfMc9HQ.

“I want to see real change come out of this,” Dr. Tuck says. “This is how the government can incentivize a green future and make sure we come out this better than we were before.”

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