In 2023, Half of Canadians Say Outdoor Air Quality Is Having an Increased Impact on Their Daily Lives.
On behalf of The Canadian Lung Association, Abacus Data conducted an online nationwide survey of Canadians’ views on air quality and its relationship to emissions and climate change. The sample size of the survey is n=2,200 adult Canadians, fielded October 27th to November 1st, 2023. The data was weighted to match Canada’s population by age, gender, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
In 2023, half of Canadians reported that outdoor air quality is having an increased impact on their daily lives, with more than a third reporting direct impact on their health.
52% of Canadians say air quality is having a bigger impact on the decisions they make in their daily lives. Impact is similar across the country- with young people in Canada feeling the biggest consequences on their daily lives.
36% of Canadians say climate change is directly impacting their health because of the worsening air pollution associated with climate change. This is a 6-point increase from 2021. Additionally, 48% are concerned about the impacts of air quality from climate change on future generations. Health concerns are felt across the country but most acutely in BC, Ontario, and Quebec.
2023 was Canada’s worst year for wildfires- by September over 6,000 wildfires were reported with hectares burned sailing past previous records. A reminder that this survey was fielded a few months after the worst of the season when relatively few Canadians were actively experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke. Yet, the wildfire experiences of this summer have clearly left an impression on Canadians. Compared to 2021 we see a significant increase in concerns about air quality outdoors.
68% of Canadians are concerned about the quality of air outdoors – an 18-point increase from 2021. This includes 27% who say they are very concerned. Concern is high across the country and isn’t just concentrated to those living in urban areas or near forest fires- those in Ontario express the greatest level of concern (perhaps many of them experiencing the effects of wildfires on air quality for the first time).
64% of Canadians say in the last year they’ve noticed a bigger impact on their health from worsening air quality related to climate change events like wildfires- 21% strongly agree.
For Canadians living with a lung condition- these effects are even greater.
Two-thirds of Canadians living with a lung condition say air quality is having a bigger impact on the decisions they make in their daily lives- 12 points higher than Canadians overall. Among those with a lung condition, 73% say they’ve noticed a bigger impact on their health from worsening air quality related to climate change events.
Given the increased focus on air quality in the last year, Canadians are eager to see climate change solutions that focus on air quality and health.
When addressing climate change, 84% want climate change solutions that focus on air quality to be a priority– 32% strongly agree. A majority of Canadians across the country, in all age groups and voters of all major political parties support this focus.
As we near the end of 2023 and reflect on the past year, we can see that the wildfires earlier this year were a focusing event for concern about air quality related to climate change. We see a significant increase in concern for outdoor air quality, overall, even after fires have subsided.
A majority of Canadians are closing out the year feeling as though air quality is having a greater impact on their lives- from their health to the choices they make on a day-to-day basis. Going forward, Canadians want to see a greater focus on climate change solutions that address air quality.
This survey was paid for by The Canadian Lung Association.
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