Wildfire smoke makes Ottawa's air among the worst in the world Wednesday
Some residents are wearing N95 masks outside and outdoor activities are being cancelled, as the blanket of smoky haze from wildfires in northwestern Ontario and Quebec covers Ottawa for a third straight day.
The smoky haze and the poor air quality has prompted schools and the city of Ottawa to postpone outdoor activities and the Ottawa Redblacks moved practice indoors.
The air quality in Ottawa is among the worst in the world as wildfire smoke blankets the capital on June 7, 2023.
Ottawa had the worst air quality of any major city in the world Wednesday morning. Health officials warn people with heart or lung conditions, older adults, children and people who work outdoors are at a higher risk of experiencing health effects due to the smoke.
"I woke up with a sore throat… so we sealed the house and turned off our air exchanger," said Patricia Hardie. She stopped by the local pharmacy to pick up two boxes of KN95 masks. "This is a new thing for us wearing masks outside than inside."
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for Ottawa, with the air quality at 10+ "very high risk" at 12 p.m.
It dropped to 7 by 3 p.m. and again to 6 by 4 p.m.
"Smoke plumes from forest fires in Quebec and northeastern Ontario have resulted in deteriorated air quality. Air quality may improve on Thursday before deteriorating again on Friday," the weather agency said in a statement.
"Air quality and visibility due to wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour."
In this GOES-16 GeoColor and fire temperature satellite image taken Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 6:40 p.m. EDT and provided by CIRA/NOAA, smoke from wildfires burning in the Canadian Provinces of Quebec, center, and Ontario, left, drift southward. (CIRA/NOAA via AP)
Ottawa's air quality index was "very unhealthy" at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to IQair, the worst quality of air of any major metropolitan area in the world, ahead of Delhi, India and New York City.
The amount of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Ottawa's air measured at 391 at 7 a.m. Delhi had an air quality index reading of 191, while New York City was at 160.
Kingston's air quality was listed as "hazardous."
According to Environment Canada's air quality health index (AQHI) conditions should improve Thursday, with a "low risk" forecast of 3 for Friday.
School boards are advising schools to cancel outdoor recess and activities and Run Ottawa says the Global Running Day festivities have been postponed until next week due to the weather.
The Ottawa Redblacks cancelled practice in Ottawa for a second straight day, and moved practice to The Nation Sports Complex due to the smoke.
The federal government said Wednesday that it has not issued a directive for public servants on air quality as a result of the wildfires.
"Each deputy head is responsible for safeguarding the health and safety of their workforce and workplace," said Treasury Board Secretariat spokesperson Martin Potvin in an email to CTV News Ottawa. "Deputy heads make decisions for their respective organizations in consultation with their departmental Occupational Health & Safety committees, taking into consideration the specific situation and requirements of their organization’s employees and workplaces/buildings."
Increase in emergency visits
Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says there has been an increase in visits to Ottawa hospital emergency rooms due to the smoky conditions.
"We've seen that increase over the last 24 hours. People with respiratory conditions like asthma and others might feel this first," Etches told CTV News Ottawa.
"But we also know from the data elsewhere that people with heart conditions, it can have an impact over time."
Etches recommends people "move indoors" for recreational activities during the poor quality days.
Etches says if you do wear a mask outdoors, you should wear an N95 mask.
"It's well fitted, doesn't have gaps," Etches said. "That can block more of the small particles. It doesn't change some of the gases that are in smoke; those gases are still going to come through but it can make a difference for some people."
The Air Quality Index shows a "very high risk" 10+ for Ottawa, Kingston and Belleville on Wednesday. The Air Quality Index is at "high risk" 8 for Cornwall.
The Carleton Place District Memorial Hospital said the smoke in the air is making it impossible to ensure fresh air in the operating room.
"The Operating Room functions on 100% fresh air coming into it and the smoke from the forest fire has made that impossible," a statement from the hospital said. "Some hospitals are able to recirculate and sterilize air inside their buildings, but Carleton Place District Memorial Hospital's aging infrastructure does now allow that."
Two surgeries had to be cancelled Tuesday because of the smoke.
"The good news is that the operating room was back up and running today for specific procedures that did not require an incision. We will be assessing the situation on a day-by-day basis."
A cyclist makes their way along a bike path into the downtown core wearing a mask, Wednesday, June 7, 2023 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
City of Ottawa facilities
Outdoor recreational programs and leagues at city of Ottawa facilities will be cancelled again today due to the poor air quality.
The city of Ottawa says all outdoor programs and leagues are cancelled today, and all drop-in programs that operate outdoors will move indoors, where possible.
Sports fields, ball diamonds and city parks will remain open for use.
The city says all splash pads will remain open.
Run Ottawa held off its festivities for Global Running Day.
"The air quality isn’t optimum. We don’t think it’s necessarily the safest thing for people to be out and exercising and because of that we are postponing," said Run Ottawa executive director Ian Fraser.
Patios across the city also sat empty.
"No one sat here yesterday and the day before too," said Crust & Crate Lansdowne general manager Pulkit Taneja. "At Lansdowne, you want to sit outside, have some nice cocktails, but now because of the weather everyone is inside."
Crossing Guard Shifts
The Ottawa Safety Council now says crossing guards will be at street corners after school today, despite the smoky weather.
The council had initially said the afternoon shifts for 300 plus cross guards would be cancelled due to the smoke from wildfires hanging over Ottawa.
Just after 12 p.m., the council said with schools still open, it will continue with crossing guard shifts.
"However, due to ongoing poor air quality, we will have unpredictable coverage across the city."
A look at the smoke over Lansdowne and downtown Ottawa from the Claridge Icon building on Somerset Street in Centretown. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)
Environment Canada's forecast calls for "widespread smoke" in the evening with a 30 per cent chance of showers and a low of 10 C. The AQHI for Wednesday night is 6, or a moderate risk.
Thursday will be cloudy with a 30 per cent chance of showers in the afternoon. High 20 C. The AQHI forecast is 4, or a moderate risk.
The outlook for Friday calls for clouds with a 30 per cent chance of showers. High 17 C. The AQHI forecast is 3, or a low risk.
Saturday will be cloudy with a slight chance of showers. High 22 C.
--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jackie Perez.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The number of Canadians who visit emergency departments across the country only to give up and leave before they receive any care has increased more than fivefold, according to new data collected by CTV News.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's latest unsuccessful attempt to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to repeal his carbon pricing system has secured the support of one Liberal MP.
Maybe there's too much Taylor, not enough Travis. Travis Kelce agreed Wednesday with the idea that NFL TV coverage has been "overdoing it" with the amount of times Taylor Swift has been on screen while attending his Kansas City Chiefs' games the last two weeks.
Under pressure from high food prices, a new survey shows almost half of Canadians are prioritizing the cost of their groceries instead of nutrition.
Rideau Hall apologizes for honouring Nazi veteran, Trudeau 'carefully' considering unsealing records
Rideau Hall is apologizing for the historic appointment of a man who fought for a Nazi unit in the Second World War, to the Order of Canada. Now, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon's office says it is examining two subsequent medals granted in the last two decades. This, as Jewish advocacy groups say the recent and resurfacing recognitions further make their case for the need to unseal Holocaust-related records.
Kinew pledges to search landfill for remains of First Nations women, but says federal role wasn't part of conversation with PM
Manitoba premier-designate Wab Kinew insists he will keep a commitment to search the Prairie Green landfill for the remains of two First Nations women who are suspected to have been victims of an alleged serial killer.
In the past month, Canada has accused the Indian government of being involved in a murder on Canadian soil and India has ordered Canada to remove most of its diplomats from the country. Here's how the two countries got to this point, as well as what's at stake if tensions don't ease.
The official forecast cone issued for tropical storm Philippe by the U.S. National Hurricane Center shifted significantly to the west on Wednesday.
‘This is an abuse of power’: Saint John councillors say suspensions due to support of striking city employees
Saint John city councillors Joanna Killen and Brent Harris say they’re facing “punishment” for their support of city hall employees on strike.
According to Dalhousie University food distribution professor Sylvain Charlebois, this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be a lot more expensive than last year.
SZA has cancelled her concert in Toronto at the last minute due to illness.
The Ontario PCs knew they may be blasted about a lack of Indigenous consultation and third-party involvement when they decided to alter the urban boundaries of six municipalities, according to internal documents.
Police on Montreal's South Shore say four teenagers have been arrested in connection with a video showing a violent attack on a 16-year-old boy near a local high school.
Montrealers can expect to see a bump on their next tax bill as many boroughs are raising their local taxes, blaming inflation and the rising costs of contracts.
A task force headed by Quebec provincial police is targeting a criminal organization specializing in 'grandparent' fraud, preying predominately on elderly people in the United States.
A historic ferry that has been moored on Manitoulin Island for nearly 50 years after being decommissioned in 1974 is being towed away Wednesday to be recycled and there is mixed reaction from residents.
An explosion that killed one person in a hotel parking lot in Timmins on Tuesday night is under investigation and has displaced several people.
The sister of a homicide victim is calling for more resources to help Indigenous women, trans individuals, and two-spirited people.
Nathaniel Veltman, 22, is on trial for four counts of terrorism-motivated first-degree murder and one count of terrorism-motivated attempted murder.
'Don’t foresee large mandatory restrictions': MLHU provides fall preview with increasing COVID cases
COVID cases are on the rise across the province, but the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is not expecting any restrictions.
One day after Wab Kinew’s historic win, the premier designate spoke to the media about his plans for health-care, homelessness and searching the Prairie Green Landfill.
A Manitoba cabinet minister defeated in Tuesday's provincial election says the Progressive Conservative party she has served for years took a hard-right pivot during the election campaign, and now needs to address an identity crisis.
Thunderstorms and website issues threw a series of curve balls at polling officials during Tuesday’s provincial election, the first to see the introduction of new technology meant to reduce lineups and get results faster.
A family in Paris, Ont. is without a vehicle after they woke up Tuesday morning to find it was no longer parked in the driveway.
Waterloo regional police say two males have been arrested in connection to an alleged carjacking at Conestoga Mall.
More than five months after the City of Kitchener shut down access to Roos Island in Victoria Park, the area remains closed to the public – and some park users are frustrated.
A pedestrian was struck by a CTrain near Chinook Station on Wednesday evening.
Police are investigating an alleged sexual assault involving a 16-year-old student at a Lethbridge high school.
A Saskatoon woman, whose altercation with a security guard was captured in a widely-shared video, made a tearful apology in court Wednesday morning.
A teen boy was killed in a fatal crash near Onion Lake on Tuesday.
Saskatchewan RCMP say they’re investigating after the Village of Richmound allegedly received letters from supporters of the self-appointed "Queen of Canada" threatening public execution.
Police in Edmonton asked for help Wednesday to identify a man who robbed a restaurant with a silver handgun six months earlier.
Residents of a southeast Edmonton neighbourhood say they were asking for signals at an area crosswalk even before a senior died on Tuesday.
Thousands gathered to pay respects to fallen B.C. RCMP Const. Rick O'Brien at a regimental funeral Wednesday, remembering the former teacher for his humour, compassion and dedication to public service.
'We can not continue to just warehouse our seniors in shelters': Growing homeless crisis sees more seniors with nowhere to live
Joseph Doran never imagined he'd retire from a lifetime of working and – at 86 years old – end up in a homeless shelter.
Vancouver’s skyline could look much different in the future, as councillors agree to review the future of the city’s “view cones.”
An apartment building in Moose Jaw that was evacuated earlier this week after the discovery of several dangerous living conditions was home to more than 40 people.
Premier Scott Moe has congratulated Manitoba Premier Designate Wab Kinew. Moe says it’s about time that a First Nations person has become a Canadian Premier.
Construction is set to begin on a new joint-use school in north Regina.