Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Environment

Contamination and availability of food and water

Food safety

In any food system, there are opportunities for food to become contaminated. Behavioural factors can increase the risk of contamination during preparation and consumption. Increasing temperatures can promote the survival rates of enteric pathogens, and warm temperatures increase the uptake in outdoor cooking, which can increase the risk of food contamination and poor hygiene practices.

Food security

A sustainable food system supports community food security, and access to safe and nutritious foods that meet dietary needs and preferences. Climate change poses a risk to food systems from production to consumption. In our region, and across Ontario, we rely on global food systems. Supporting local food production and access through farmers markets, community gardens, and many provincial and municipal policies, can protect farmland and promote access to healthy foods locally. The health unit works to support community and household education around food security. Alongside municipalities, the health unit works to strengthen local food systems, promote Food and Agricultural Charters, encourage the creation of community gardens, and advocate for protection of agricultural lands and water.

Safe water

Throughout the community and within the health unit, work is being carried out to protect drinking water sources, encourage shoreline naturalization, and promote integrated watershed planning. Source Water Protection is about protecting our sources of drinking water from overuse and contamination. These measures support adaptation to changing temperatures and extreme weather, and provide natural protection from flooding and enhance natural water protection.

Throughout the summer months, the Safe Water Team undertakes beach surveillance and monitoring to ensure standards are met for bathing beaches. These areas are essential for communities and support cooling in extreme heat events. The health unit does not currently report on water adaptation measures, but municipalities and conservation authorities throughout the region and the Muskoka Watershed Council are undertaking extensive work to protect drinking and recreational water sources, and complete floodplain mapping.

For more information about the work that the health unit supports to protect our recreational and drinking water sources, please visit our website.