Nov. 14, 2008
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. (CNB) - Improving the health of Atlantic Canadians was the focus today in Charlottetown as ministers responsible for health and wellness from the four Atlantic provinces met at the Wellness...A Shared Responsibility - We All Have A Role To Play forum. Stories about positively affecting the health of the region's residents were highlighted, along with the need to continue to address the challenges of achieving optimal health and well-being.
The forum provided an opportunity for government, health promotion organizations, and community leaders to collaborate on how to support healthy choices for all Atlantic Canadians.
Doug Currie, P.E.I. minister of health, and Carolyn Bertram, P.E.I. minister of communities, cultural affairs and labour, hosted the forum. They were joined by Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport Hédard Albert; Clyde Jackman, Newfoundland and Labrador minister of tourism, culture and recreation; and Terry French, Newfoundland and Labrador parliamentary secretary to the minister of health and community services, and minister responsible for aging and seniors. Nova Scotia's Deputy Minister of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection Duff Montgomerie attended on behalf of Minister Barry Barnet.
"A lot of work has been done in New Brunswick in the area of wellness, and we can be proud of the results we have achieved to date," said Albert. "However, there is still a great deal left to be done, and we must continue our efforts to deal with the wellness challenges by forging strong ties with our regional, provincial, Atlantic, and national partners. For that reason, I am very hopeful that ministerial meetings such as this one will help us all work together to improve the wellness of our population."
Healthy options and support programs were discussed as areas where the benefits of regional collaboration might be achieved by building on the many successful initiatives already undertaken. Co-ordination of efforts between provincial governments and stakeholders could enhance current initiatives by leveraging expertise, making better use of available resources - both human and financial - and avoiding duplication of effort.
"The composition of Atlantic Canada's population is changing rapidly," said Currie. "By 2021, about one in four Atlantic Canadians will be a senior citizen. This change in demographics will place increased pressure on health systems to manage and reduce the incidence of chronic disease. I strongly support a collaborative approach among the Atlantic provinces to promote the health and wellness of Atlantic Canadians, and this forum offers the opportunity for us to work together and learn from each other as we plan future initiatives."
Michael Vallis delivered a message about the motivational and environmental factors which influence individuals' behaviours. Several panel discussions provided an opportunity for the participants to hear from groups and stakeholders about successful initiatives that have been implemented at the community and school levels.
"I am pleased that this group, consisting of Atlantic, provincial, and community leaders, is eager to work together to improve the lives of Atlantic Canadians," Bertram said. "Through co-operation, education and sharing we have a wonderful opportunity to help Atlantic Canadians make healthy eating and activity choices. Working together, we can be models for Canada - active and healthy residents."
"Healthy aging is a key component to overall wellness that is greatly affected by our daily choices," said Wiseman. "We all have a role to play in fostering an environment that enhances our potential for enjoying good health and wellbeing. Newfoundland and Labrador has made great strides in this area, with major initiatives such as our healthy-aging strategy, provincial wellness plan, and multifaceted approach to reducing tobacco use. We must continue to focus our efforts in these areas, especially as our population ages and the incidence of chronic disease increases."
"The success of our efforts to influence the wellness of individuals will be a function of many factors," said Jackman. "By focusing on the key determinants of good health and working toward meeting the newly established physical activity targets for children and youth, we will help increase the number of Atlantic Canadians maintaining healthy, active lifestyles."
The ministers will rely on the shared information to assess where opportunities may exist to collaborate as they prepare to address the challenges.
The forum was sponsored by the Council of Atlantic Premiers, which was established in 2000 to co-ordinate joint activity in areas of mutual agreement to achieve results that might not be achievable alone. Today's event fulfills part of its mandate to consult on regional approaches to the management of risk factors associated with chronic disease and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Danielle McFarlane, Wellness, Culture and Sport, 506-457-6445, email@example.com; Sue Mckeague, Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection, 902-424-0913, firstname.lastname@example.org; Glenda Power, Newfoundland and Labrador Health and Community Services, 709-729-1377, email@example.com; Connie McNeill, Prince Edward Island Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, 902-368-5829, firstname.lastname@example.org; Heather May, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, Culture and Recreation, 709-729-0928, email@example.com; Darlene Gillis, Prince Edward Island Health, 902-368-6172, firstname.lastname@example.org.