IQALUIT, April 7, 2002 -- In a collective presentation to the Romanow Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Fitness and Recreation today called on the Commission to recognize the essential contribution of physical activity, sport and recreation to the health of Canadians.
The Ministers for all the provinces and territories except Quebec, which has already communicated to the Commission that it will not take part in its work, identified the need to address the critical issues facing the health of Canadians through a balanced approach that recognizes and supports physical activity in combination with a healthy lifestyle, as well as treatment. The contribution of physical activity to health is well documented but its importance has been underemphasized in light of a growing body of world-wide research linking a lack of physical activity to a rise in preventable chronic ailments such as heart disease, depression and type 2 diabetes.
One way to control skyrocketing health care costs is through investments in strategies focusing on the key determinants of health, including a primary emphasis on increasing the level of physical activity among Canadians. It is estimated that two-thirds of Canadians are at risk due to physical inactivity.
The Ministers invited the Romanow Commission to advocate greater collaboration between the health system and the sport, fitness and recreation delivery systems in fostering the health of Canadians.
Noting the link between community involvement in sport, fitness and recreation and public health outcomes, the Ministers called on the Commission to promote the adoption of a Canadian value for physical activity as a way of life, including participation in recreation and sport.
The Ministers also stressed the importance of pursuing health research which tracks the impact of cross-sectoral initiatives, including both the short and long term benefits of physical activity on the health of Canadians.
During their discussions, the Ministers agreed to raise the profile of the value of physical activity within their respective jurisdictions, and to work proactively with the health system and other stakeholders to advance healthy public policy in support of physical activity in Canada.
The Ministers' presentation to the Commission followed the 2002 Conference of Federal Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for Sport, Fitness and Recreation in Iqaluit.