Broken & Washed Away: An overview of the contribution of climate change, disasters and housing to health

Online Event

03/10/2022, 2:30 pm

Organizer: McMaster Institute for Health Equity

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The McMaster Institute for Health Equity (MIHE) seminar series presents timely, health-equity focused research on a range of topics that is relevant to researchers, students, staff and community members across many backgrounds.

Talk Title: Broken & Washed Away: An overview of the contribution of climate change, disasters and housing to health in socioeconomically marginalized groups

Presented by Dr. Julia Woodhall-Melnik, Associate Professor, University of New Brunswick in Saint John and Canada Research Chair in Resilient Communities

Talk time: Monday, October 3 at 2:30pm ET

Register here

The increased prevalence of large disasters and rapid climate change is contributing to housing environments that are untenable, unsuitable, uncomfortable and unhealthy. Housing protects people from external threats and extreme weather; however, the quality of housing and the resources available to maintain it are not equally distributed across populations.

Drawing on her qualitative investigation of the 2018 and 2019 floods of the Wolastoq (St. John River) in New Brunswick, Dr. Woodhall-Melnik outlines some of the disparities that contribute to residents’ ability to maintain their housing and health during and following extreme weather and climate disasters.

The findings of this study indicate that although housing displacement is devastating to all survivors, individuals experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, women, seniors, youth, and individuals with preexisting mental and physical health conditions suffer disproportionately from the impacts of housing loss and damage due to climate disasters.

Drawing on this work as an example, Dr. Woodhall-Melnik argues that researchers, advocates, and policymakers can no longer ignore the intersection of climate and housing inequities as a significant contributor to health and wellbeing. Further, she presents an alteration of Health in All Policy approaches with increased focus on socioeconomic inequities as a mechanism for updating existing responses to housing loss due to climate crises.