Coalition For Active Living

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Board Updates June 8, 2004

Dear Colleagues:

The Federal Election campaign is heating up and the closeness of the race presents opportunities for physical activity that may not have existed for some time.

The Coalition for Active Living (CAL) is undertaking some activities to help those who are concerned about the Physical Activity levels in Canada to make those concerns know to the Federal leaders and their political Parties. We hope to clarify the Party positions and encourage them to declare publicly how they will tackle the growing crisis caused by inactivity.

We need your help:

The CAL is YOUR Coalition. Our success in getting the physical activity message heard during this election depends on you getting involved. Participate in all-candidates meetings, in town hall discussions, in political Internet forums and on-line discussions. Write a 'letter to the editor' of your local and national newspaper....in short make sure you are heard. And don't worry if you don't have all the answers.

Handy Stats:

Physical inactivity and obesity represent two of the greatest threats to public health in Canada. The most recent estimates indicate that 53.5% of Canadian adults are physically inactive while 14.7% are obese (Statistics Canada, 2002). Given that both physical inactivity and obesity are strong independent predictors of illness and disability, they are estimated to impose a significant burden on direct health care expenditures and on indirect costs , which include the value of economic output lost because of illness, injury-related work disability or premature death. It is estimated that in 2001, the economic burden of physical inactivity was $5.3 billion ($1.6 billion in direct costs and $3.7 billion in indirect costs) while the cost associated with obesity was $4.3 billion ($1.6 billion in direct costs and $2.7 billion in indirect costs). The total economic costs of physical inactivity and obesity represented 2.6% and 2.2%, respectively, of the total health care costs in Canada in 2001. These results underscore the
importance of public health efforts aimed at combating the current epidemics of physical inactivity and obesity in Canada (Katzmarzyk PT, Janssen, I. The Economic Costs of Physical Inactivity and Obesity in Canada. CJAP 2004; 29 (1) 90-115).

Questions to Ask:

Some great solutions arise when the right questions are asked...so ask! You will have your own questions, but here are a few to get you started:

1. Given that the total cost of physical inactivity is about $5.3 billion dollars each year in Canada, the Coalition for Active Living has recommended means to address this health and economic burden through a federal investment in physical activity of $500 million over 5 years . Do you support this investment?

2. What is your Party planning to do to ensure that physical activity is a planned part of everyday life in Canadian schools and communities.

3. Federal and provincial/territorial Ministers have agreed to increase
physical activity by 10% by the year 2010, yet the Health Canada currently invests only $3 million dollars in physical activity, and Sport Canada only has a mandate in competitive and elite Sport. What leadership would your Party provide to ensure increased physical activity for the average Canadian?

What we will do:

The Coalition has researched the Party Platforms of the three largest national Parties. We now have an understanding of where each party stands (or doesn't stand) on physical activity. We will soon release a statement to the media raising the physical activity issue and the implications for Canadians.

Shortly we will send a letter to each of the Parties asking several questions about Physical Activity Policy, and asking them about their support for the Pan-Canadian Physical Activity Strategy. We will make their answers public on our web site and of course share them with our members.

We are currently drafting an OP-ED to be sent to the Globe and Mail and other media, and will be sending questions to the national media which we hope will prompt a question on physical activity on the leaders televised debate.

What do the Party platforms say about physical activity?

The Liberal Platform does not mention physical activity. You can access it at:http://www.liberal.ca/platform_e_3.aspx

The Conservative Platform says:

"We will promote amateur sport and physical fitness Physical activity is an important cornerstone of health promotion. With the 2010 Olympics coming to Vancouver/Whistler, Canada has a unique opportunity to showcase our top-notch amateur sport athletes to the world. Government has a role to play in encouraging amateur sport, including getting young Canadians involved in physical activity at the local level.

A Conservative government led by Stephen Harper will commit one percent of federal health funding to the funding of physical activity. This will increase support for the Canadian Olympic Agency and amateur athletes, as well as activities for school age children like the Awards of Excellence programs."

It can be accessed at:
http://www.conservative.ca/platform/

The NDP Platform says:
"Jack Layton and Canada's NDP will improve and protect health care by Restoring ParticipAction, the national program that prevented illness by encouraging physical activity, and promoting proven alternative and traditional health practices to keep Canadians healthy and out of the acute care system.

You can access it at:
http://www.ndp.ca/uploaded/20040527091443_Fed.NDP.Platform.eng.sm.pdf

Good Luck!
I hope that whatever party you choose to support in this years federal election, that you will consider being a strong advocate for physical activity. Ask the tough questions....be heard.

Sincerely

Stephen Grundy
Chief Operation Officer
Coalition for Active Living

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