Appendix C: Integrated Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy 2005 – Executive summary

Appendix C: Synthesis and Analysis of Healthy Living-related Policies, Programs and Initiatives – Executive Summary Footnote 36

In September 2002, the federal/provincial/territorial (F/P/T) Ministers of Health announced the Integrated Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy, a collaborative effort to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases in Canada by addressing their common risk factors and the underlying conditions that contribute to them. The Strategy’s two main goals are to improve health outcomes and to help reduce health disparities.

The initial areas of focus for the Strategy are physical activity and healthy eating, and their relationship to healthy weights. To increase understanding about the scope of current efforts and priority areas for action in this area, the Healthy Living Task Group commissioned a research project to identify and analyze existing healthy living environmental scans summarizing relevant programs, policies and other initiatives. The results of the research, which are summarized in this report, are intended to provide a strategic foundation for expanding and enhancing existing policies and programs, building new linkages and otherwise moving forward in a strategic way to develop and implement healthy living priorities that will benefit Canadians.

Conducted from mid-March to early May of 2005, the study involved interviews with more than 50 key informants, including members of the key groups associated with the Strategy (FPT Healthy Living Task Group, Healthy Living Coordinating Committee, Healthy Living Working Groups).  Respondents were asked to identify existing scans relevant to the project and to comment on key opportunities and challenges in the area of healthy living in Canada. In addition to the interviews, the researchers conducted further telephone and Web research to obtain the recommended scans and other documents.

The results of the research – including an analysis of more than 40 scans and other documents and the key informant interviews – clearly demonstrate that there is a receptive environment for moving forward on a pan-Canadian healthy living agenda. Many of the provinces and territories have their own healthy living strategies either in place or in development. A number of key national organizations and alliances are working together to focus on a range of healthy living issues, including obesity and chronic disease prevention. As well, an array of successful programs are up and running in communities across the country. And healthy living issues appear to be high on the public agenda, with concerns about obesity and the life-enhancing benefits of healthy eating and physical activity receiving increasing attention.

The research also identified a number of recurring priority issues that will help to guide the strategic direction of current and future activities aimed at promoting healthy living in Canada. Specifically, the scans and the key informant interviews underscored the need for:

  • a well-articulated, comprehensive and integrated strategy that provides guidance and support for ongoing efforts to advance healthy living
  • strong, centralized leadership to provide direction and support in promoting and advancing healthy living initiatives
  • a multisectoral approach that brings together the full range of players to mobilize and coordinate efforts
  • supportive policy and regulatory options that encourage life-enhancing behaviours
  • evidence-based research – including the development of targets and indicators and rigorous impact evaluation – on which to plan and deliver programming, develop policy and ensure sustained progress
  • targeted policies and programs that address existing health disparities and address the specific needs of a range of groups
  • supportive environments that encourage healthy, active living
  • comprehensive and effective communications and social marketing initiatives that provide clear messages to Canadians about the implications of their lifestyle choices and strategies for improving them
  • enhanced funding that supports ongoing development and implementation of healthy living infrastructure and processes, as well as policies, programs and other initiatives across the country

With these priority issues in mind, the report makes a number of recommendations for action that can be undertaken by governments, communities, the private sector, health care professionals, and parents and families to build on the current momentum and achieve substantial progress.

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