CPHO Remarks - Friday, Sept 11, 2020


Today I’d like to talk about the importance of our built environment to healthy living and healthy communities, especially during the pandemic. But first, I’ll begin with the usual numbers update.

There have been 134,924 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,163 deaths. 88% of people have now recovered. Over the past week, 47,806 people were tested daily, with 1.1% of people testing positive. An average of 618 new cases have been reported daily during the most recent seven days.

Our built environment, being the physical spaces where we live, work, study and play have a significant role on our health. These environments, if designed with public health in mind, can benefit our mental health; our access to exercise, nutrition and healthcare; and our exposure to infectious diseases and hazardous materials.

Changing our physical environment is a powerful way to improve health.  For example, over the last century, improving sanitation, infrastructure planning, and addressing residential overcrowding reduced infectious disease rates in Canada.

I was pleased when the Government of Canada recently announced the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative to help governments and community partners advance the goal of healthier living environments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative could support local projects to adapt public spaces to enable people to more easily follow public health measures, while encouraging and providing opportunities for them to be more physically active and improve their mental health.

Over the summer, we saw many examples of municipalities adapting public spaces in ways that encourage outdoor social and physical activities. Many communities closed selected streets to traffic to allow pedestrians and cyclists to exercise outdoors safely. Restaurants, bars, and cafes set up or expanded outdoor seating so that their customers could dine safely at least two meters apart. And I expect we will see more innovations this fall that will help us live healthier and be socially together while physically apart.

But still the most important reminder when out in any public space is to keep up our public health practices of physical distancing, frequent handwashing and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

Thank you.

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