President, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Emergency Physician, Yellowknife
Dr Courtney Howard is an Emergency Physician in Yellowknife, in Canada’s subarctic and board president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. Motivated by work on a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) pediatric malnutrition project in Djibouti, and by climate-related health impacts on her Northern patient population, she spends approximately half of her time working at the intersection of climate change and health.
She was the first author on the 2017 and 2018 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Briefings for Canadian Policymakers as well as being the 2018 International Policy Director for the Lancet Countdown.
In the pursuit of improved planetary health Dr Howard has researched the respiratory and wellness impacts of Yellowknife’s extreme wildfire season of 2014 and led the first randomized controlled trial comparing tampons to reusable menstrual cups.
Dr Howard has been involved in policy and advocacy work on coal phase-out, active transport, plant-rich diets, integrating health impact assessments into environmental assessments, carbon pricing, and the health impacts of fracking. She led the successful campaign to have the Canadian Medical Association divest its reserves of fossil fuels and for MD-Financial to create fossil-fuel-free equity and bond funds for Canadian physicians to invest in, and is very involved in assisting medical learners in Canada and internationally to see climate change and health included in their curricula.
Dr Howard is on the steering committee of the Planetary Health Alliance, represents CAPE on the board of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, is the Co-Chair for North America of the WONCA working group on the environment, and sits on the boards of the Canadian Medical Association, Health in Harmony, and her local environmental NGO, Ecology North. She represented the voice of health at the Canada/UK “Powering Past Coal” announcement at COP23.
Enviromental Health Workgroup Chair,
Ontario Public Health Association
Helen formerly worked as the Environmental Health Manager at York Region Public Health. Her work focused on environmental factors that impact public health such as indoor and outdoor air quality, climate change, the built environment, and environmental contaminants in food, water, soil and consumer products. As part of an interdisciplinary team, Helen worked to improve environmental public health through research, health promotion, partnerships and policy development.
As Chair of the Ontario Public Health Association’s Environmental Health Work Group, Helen has contributed to advocacy and policy development to environmental health issues.