July 2023 Open Letter to the Ford Government: RELEASE THE SECRET CLIMATE CHANGE REPORTS!

At the end of July 2023, SCAN, Seniors for Climate Action Now, published the following open letter to the Ford government:

Since 2019, the Ford government has commissioned two major reports on the urgent task of anticipating and reducing the impacts of climate change on the province. But despite raging wildfires, scorching heatwaves and increasingly violent storms, the government that is responsible for protecting us insists on keeping this vital information from the public. Requests to get copies of the reports – including Freedom of Information requests – remain unanswered.

Appointed in 2019, the Advisory Panel on Climate Change, headed by Paul Kovacs of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, had an explicit mandate: to provide “expert advice on the implementation of the province's climate change actions - especially how Ontarians can prepare for the costs and impacts of climate change.” The panel duly submitted its report in November, 2021.

In 2020, meanwhile, the government announced that it had commissioned a second report, dubbed Ontario’s “First Ever Climate Change Impact Assessment.” We understand that this was submitted by the Climate Risk Institute in late 2022 or early 2023, though details remain cloudy. The government described the assessment as a study that would use “the best science and information to better understand where and how climate change is likely to affect communities, critical infrastructure, economies and the natural environment.” It would also help to “strengthen the province's resilience to the impacts of climate change.”

While these reports remain secret, Ontario is suffering the impacts of extreme weather that’s being made worse by climate breakdown.

The previous government did have the beginnings of a climate change adaptation strategy. But most of it was abandoned when the Ford government took office in 2018. The Ford Conservatives quickly terminated an important plan to create a new provincial climate change impacts and adaptation centre at the University of Toronto. So, we are left without the information we need to protect ourselves just as climate breakdown intensifies.

Why does the government insist on remaining silent? Why did it commission these reports and then hide them away? Why won’t it let the public read the reports? What is the Ford government planning to do to protect us?

We are Ontario citizens. Our money paid for these reports. There is an urgent need for all of us to know what is coming and for a broad public discussion about what to do about it. Secrecy is unacceptable. Release the reports!

Jennifer Penney Toronto, M6R 2A9

[The letter, also posted here, was signed by 1330 people].