Widespread smoky conditions in Toronto (Photo Courtesy: @shawnmicallef/Instagram)
The sky in Toronto has been grey for several days as smoke fills the air, making its way from wildfires in Northwestern Ontario, western Canada and Quebec.
The levels of smoke are so high that Environment Canada issued an air quality alert on Tuesday, saying, “Smoke plumes from forest fires in Quebec may result in deteriorated air quality through most of this week.”
Yet, what we’re seeing in Ontario is only a small fraction of what’s really happening in places like British Columbia where the 2023 wildfire season has already broken some records. Now, people online are voicing their concerns about the long-term impacts of the fires.
Advocates Call On The Government
On TikTok, user @karishmaclimategirl is sounding the alarm, urging the government and media to call the fires a climate crisis.
While the government has yet to label the fires a “crisis”, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Blair, the federal minister for emergency preparedness, have called this year’s fires “some of the most severe ever witnessed.”
Whether you’ve been paying attention to the wildfires or not, residents in the Greater Toronto Area can no longer ignore the strong smell of fire and smoke when they step outside, in addition to the “strawberry” red moon seen in the sky on Monday night.
Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Gerald Cheng said the moon’s reddish colour is related to the wildfire smoke, which can also affect the colour of the sun.
Online, Environment Canada wrote, “Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations. Continue to take actions to protect your health and reduce exposure to smoke.”
“People with lung disease (such as asthma) or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke,” the website continues.
- So far, Canada has experienced 2,214 wildfires across the country this year.
- Wildfires have burned 3.3 million hectares of land.
- There are 413 wildfires currently burning, and of those 249 are deemed “out of control.”
- There are 18 active wildfires impacting First Nations communities across Canada.
- As of Monday, 26,000 Canadians have been forced to flee their homes due to wildfires.
This, according to Bill Blair, the federal minister for emergency preparedness.
Ontarians React Online
Online, people are reacting to the smoke-filled skies.
“I live in Quebec and I woke up to the sun being orange and the air smelling like straight up smoke,” posted one TikTok user.
“No politicians or parties in Canada genuinely care to protect our environment. so it’s up to us to remove and replace them with people who care,” posted another user.
“My first thought this morning was: these aren’t normal clouds. I thought they were the fires of NS that caught up, had no clue about up north ON.”
What do you think about the wildfires? Let us know in the comments.