Health Professionals & Community Members Call for Restrictions on Fossil Fuel Promotion in City of Ottawa Facilities

Recently in Ottawa, CAPE and a total of 23 health, environment and community organizations pushed the City to conduct an investigation into what a fossil fuel ad ban could look like and what it would entail. This is one of the first city actions in Canada to engage on the issue of fossil fuel advertising, and we will continue to mobilize at the municipal level.

About This Campaign

On March 5th, 2024, Councillor Shawn Menard (Capital Ward) presented a motion to Finance and Corporate Services Committee on March 5 that asked staff to review the City’s Sponsorship and Advertising policy with regard to fossil fuel promotion in light of the City’s policies, values, and commitments. After almost 20 delegations asking for a ban on fossil-fuel promotion in City facilities, the Committee passed this motion. It now goes to Council for a vote on April 3. Read more and check for updates from Ecology Ottawa as this work progresses.

Want to support this campaign? Sign the petition here calling for a comprehensive ban on fossil fuel advertisements on Ottawa City property.

Image: Example of an advertisement for fossil fuels at Brewer Arena, Ottawa (credit: @waters_eugenie)

 

Read our first letter sent to Mayor Sutcliffe & Ottawa City Council, signed by 15 community, environment, and health organizations here. 

Below is a second letter to Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and all members of Ottawa City Council from 11 Canadian health organizations, making the health case for an ad ban:



4 March, 2024

Mark Sutcliffe
Mayor, City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1P 1J1
Canada

Re: Health Professionals Call for Restrictions on Fossil Fuel Promotion in City of Ottawa Facilities

Dear Mayor Sutcliffe:

We write to express our concern about advertisements on City of Ottawa property that promote fossil fuels, the burning of which is causing a public health crisis from air pollution and climate change. Eleven health organizations urge you to prohibit the promotion of fossil fuel products in City facilities to help protect public health and to align City advertising regulations with its climate goals.

Health professionals led the charge against tobacco advertising when there was scientific consensus that smoking was causing a public health crisis. Health professionals are now demanding an end to fossil fuel advertising due to the scientific consensus on the negative health impacts of air pollution and climate change caused by their use. Health Canada research shows that air pollution related to fossil fuels is a leading cause of  early death in Canada, and recent Harvard research found that fossil fuel air pollution in Canada leads to 34,000 premature deaths per year. There is overwhelming evidence that these toxic emissions are a major cause of multiple forms of cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses as well as other negative health impacts. As the City’s Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment notes, climate change will disproportionately impact certain populations. Children, seniors, and people with low incomes, for example, are most susceptible to the negative health impacts of burning fossil fuels and the City has a duty to protect people at risk. 

People in Ottawa have experienced the impacts of fossil-fueled climate change directly in recent years. From tornados, floods, wildfire smoke and a derecho, the impacts of climate change are being felt here at home. The City has reported on the increasing frequency and intensity of these events, and the significant consequences to local health and safety.

The City of Ottawa has already acknowledged and taken action on the pressing and critical issue of addressing climate change by:

These commitments show that the City of Ottawa understands the urgency required to respond to the threat of climate change. Allowing fossil fuel companies to advertise on City property is in direct opposition to the City’s commitments.

Fossil fuel industry advertising is misleading Canadians about the true health and environmental impacts of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel companies are among the most profitable in the world, and the money they can devote to promoting their products will always overshadow the available resources to provide the public with the scientific evidence regarding the consequences of burning fossil fuels. To lessen this imbalance, all levels of government need to enact policies within their power to limit fossil fuel industry advertising and other promotional activities.

Protecting Ottawan’s health is a priority for Council. Aligning the City’s advertising regulations with its vision, mission and values is a tangible step Council can take to address this major public health concern.

Sincerely, 

Asthma Canada

Canadian Association of Pathologists Environment National Specialty Network (CAP-ACP E NSN)

Canadian Association of Pharmacy for the Environment (CAPhE) 

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) 

Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment (CANE) 

Canadian Federation of Medical Students’ Health and Environment Adaptive Response Task Force (CFMS HEART)

Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity (CHASE)

Canadian Public Health Association / Association canadienne de santé publique

Children’s Environmental Health Clinic Ontario

Climate Change & Health Collaborative

Naturopathic Doctors for Environmental and Social Trust 

 


In the News
  • Ottawa committee directs staff to examine options for fossil fuel advertising on municipal property | CTV News

  • Environmental groups push city council to ban fossil fuel ads | CBC News

  • “Ottawa under pressure to ban fossil fuel ads on OC Transport and rink boards” | Ottawa Citizen 
  • Groups call on city of Ottawa to ban fossil fuel ads on city property | CTV News Ottawa

  • Op Ed – Van Geest: City of Ottawa must stop accepting fossil-fuel advertising – now | Ottawa Citizen 

 

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