Speaking Points for Canada's Representative Rodney Ghali Director-General, Chronic Disease Prevention 2014 UN NCD Review of Progress on Noncommunicable Diseases

Plenary Speech

New York
July 10-11, 2014

Mister President, Ministers, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

The Government of Canada remains concerned about the high rates of noncommunicable diseases, also known as NCDs. As in other countries, NCDs are the leading cause of death in Canada, and reduce our quality of life.

The 2011 Political Declaration put a priority on prevention, and our new outcome document renews and reaffirms this priority.

Both these high-level documents recognize the role and responsibility of governments in responding to the challenge of NCDs.

In Canada, for the past 10 years, all levels of government have demonstrated leadership in addressing NCDs.

As an example of this, government tobacco control measures have reduced smoking levels in Canada to a historic low.

Since 2011, we have responded to the charge of the Political Declaration by reinforcing our efforts to address NCDs in collaboration with our provinces and territories, by placing an initial focus on childhood obesity and the promotion of healthy weights.

The Political Declaration also recognized the "essential need for the efforts and engagement of all sectors of society to generate effective responses." Canada warmly welcomes the participation of stakeholders from outside government as part of this Review.

In 2010 Canada's Health Ministers affirmed this 'all of society' approach to public health – stating that "Health promotion is everybody's business" – in our milestone Declaration on Prevention and Promotion. We know that complex public health challenges, such as the prevention of NCDs, need collaborative action. That's why communities, academia, the not-for-profit and the private sector, and all levels of government, must come together if we are to have meaningful and lasting change.

By working together, the Government and our partners can leverage knowledge, expertise, reach, and resources, allowing each to do what it does best, in working towards the common shared goal of producing better health outcomes.

We've seen the tangible benefit of this approach through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, an innovative knowledge-based, arms-length organization that brings together diverse partners to implement the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control.

While our underlying principles around prevention and health promotion remain the same, we -- as a federal government, are committed to working differently with the goal of lasting impact For example:

  • We've moved upstream from a disease-specific approach towards focusing on common risk factors and social determinants, as we committed to do in 2011;
  • We have broadened our engagement with the public and decision-makers through more open access to our data and knowledge products and a set of policy-relevant indicators; and
  • Finally, we've re-designed and launched a new multisectoral partnership approach. This means our federal funding in healthy living and NCD prevention is focussed on supporting our most innovative and transformative ideas. Importantly our investments are tied to performance and results, which amplifies the reach of our public health programs.

Furthermore, we know that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution out there. Innovation and greater impact can be achieved through engaging all segments of society. And in order to make a change, we have to try something different.

In conclusion, we recognize the challenge before us and, to bring about change, will require work at home and globally. Through this review, we can share our experiences and learn from each other. And through collaboration and innovation, we can increase the speed of change and improve the health and lives of people around the world.

Thank you.

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