Shift to EVs will save lives, money, and result in cleaner air: Canadian Study

While we all know that electric vehicles (EVs) would result in less air pollution and as a result less health problems in our population (amongst other things), a new study by a University of Toronto professor sheds new light on just how much of an impact it would have on the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas (GTHA).

The research, which was led by Marianne Hatzopoulou and conducted in partnership with Environment Defence and the Ontario Public Health Association, found that a shift to electrification and cleaner vehicles is key to improving air quality and the public health issues that arise from vehicle pollution.

Exposure to traffic-related air pollution is a serious public health concern, responsible for hundreds of premature deaths every year in the GTHA and contributing to respiratory illness such as asthma, cardiovascular conditions and lung cancer. Switching to electric vehicles and cleaner trucks will reduce this harmful pollution and, in combination with other active and sustainable transportation measures, is an important solution to this public health concern.” – Helen Doyle, Environmental Health Workgroup Chair with the Ontario Public Health Association.

According to data from Health Canada, there are 14,600 premature deaths per year across Canada that can be attributed to air pollution. Of those, 3,000 occur in the GTHA. The study attempted to show through modelling how those numbers might change based on a shift to electrification and cleaner vehicles.

The study looked at a number of different scenarios over time that would see a gradual increase in electrification from 20% to 50%, and eventually even a 100% shift.

Some of the key findings of the study were:

  • A shift to electric cars and SUVs (EVs) will mean 313 fewer premature deaths per year while newer, cleaner trucks will mean 275 fewer premature deaths annually, and electrifying all public transit buses will mean 143 fewer premature deaths annually.
  • A single EV replacing a gas-powered car brings approximately $10,000 in social benefits, justifying strong government action to get more EVs on the road quickly.
  • Shifting to EVs, electric buses, and cleaner trucks in the GTHA would reduce approximately 8 mega tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. This action alone would bring Ontario halfway to meeting its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The results of the study were clear, and they hope the results help spur local and federal goverments to take greater action to increase the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles.

The evidence in this report makes a clear case for stronger government action to accelerate a shift to cleaner vehicles. Strong policy tools to electrify vehicles and reduce pollution from trucks will save lives by improving respiratory and cardiovascular health, and reducing future climate-related health risks.” – Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy Program Manager at Environmental Defence.

To read more about the study and its results, you can visit

Featured image via CTV Toronto

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