Smoke fills the air in Toronto during an air quality advisory on June 6, 2023. Michael Ranger | City News
A Special Air Quality Statement remains in effect for the GTA and much of Southern Ontario as wildfire smoke blankets the region.
Environment Canada warns that high levels of air pollution can prove harmful to people’s health and advises residents to take steps to reduce their exposure. The smoke is the result of fires in the eastern part of the province and in Quebec.
“Stop outdoor activities and contact your health care provider if you or someone in your care experiences shortness of breath, wheezing, severe coughing, dizziness or chest pain,” the air quality statement said. “If you feel unwell and have symptoms, stay inside.”
“People with lung disease or heart disease, the elderly, children, pregnant women, and people who work outdoors are at increased risk of health problems from wildfire smoke.”
The Met Office advises people to check on friends and family members who are more likely to smoke. Environment Canada recommends that people keep their doors and windows closed if indoor temperatures are comfortable.
People in the area are advised to take precautions to protect their health and minimize exposure, wear masks, avoid outdoor activities and contact health care providers if experiencing unusual symptoms.
“Take a break from the smoke by temporarily relocating or finding a place in your community with fresh, cool air, such as a library, shopping mall or community center,” the statement said.
The township of Greater Madawaska, about 150 kilometers west of Ottawa near Centennial Lake, issued a precautionary evacuation notice to residents on Monday.
An active fire is burning around Centennial Lake, one of 21 new fires that have started in the province since the weekend.
2023 is expected to be Canada’s worst fire season ever
As of Monday afternoon, there were 424 fires across Canada, more than 250 of which were considered out of control.
Images of wildfires burning across the country are among the most intense Canada has ever seen, Canada’s emergency preparedness minister says, and the current forecast for the next few months indicates the likelihood of higher-than-normal fire activity continuing.
Bill Blair and six other federal cabinet ministers gave an update on the country’s bushfire situation on Monday. He says 1,000 foreign firefighters from the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are helping to put out the blaze. More firefighters are expected to arrive from France.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that as climate change increases the risk of wildfires, there are lessons to be learned and decisions to be made so Canada can better respond.
The BC Wildfire Service says the Donnie Creek wildfire, which has grown to more than 2,400 square kilometres, is now considered the second largest in the province’s history, while Nova Scotia’s largest ever wildfire continues to burn.
A new fire risk forecast shows risk is well above average in all provinces and territories except Newfoundland and Labrador, where risk is still above average in most of Labrador, while risk in Newfoundland is average.