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Ontario’s Preventable Chronic Disease Crisis

September 28, 2017

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in Ontario yet research shows that many of these chronic diseases can be prevented. 

More than half of Ontarians have one or more chronic conditions but only some 2% of the province’s $54B health care budget is spent on health promotion, prevention and public health.

Research shows that public health preventative measures that increase physical activity, health eating, mental health promotion and reduce alcohol and tobacco use to initiatives to addressing the socio-economic and environmental factors that determine health.

These can make a difference in tackling many chronic diseases from type II diabetes, to heart disease to cancer—to name but a few. Some $4.9B was saved in health care costs in Ontario primarily through reducing smoking over the last ten years.

The Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance held a legislative day on Wednesday, Sept. 27th at Queen’s Park to draw attention to this significant, yet preventable chronic disease challenge. This 21- member alliance of non-profit health organizations is committed to collaborative action on chronic disease prevention.

Alliance Chair, and Executive Director of the Ontario Public Health Association, Pegeen Walsh, emphasized that “many of the building blocks are already there. What’s needed is more coordinated action across existing health strategies and sectors and greater investment in the health promotion and prevention components.”

Over 40 MPPs from across Ontario attended the legislative day, which included remarks from MPP John Fraser (Ottawa South), MPP Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London and MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West).

MMP John Fraser stressed that, “it is critical that we prevent chronic diseases,” while MPP’s Jeff Yurek talked about the often overlooked links between chronic disease and mental health. MPP Lisa Gretzky reminded participants at the event about the important connections between income  and chronic diseases.

The Alliance is calling on legislators to support a minimum 0.5% increase in the province’s $54B health care budget, some $27OM.

“With an aging population and chronic disease expenditures increasing faster than our economic growth, it’s important to invest now, ” Walsh stressed. “Considering the number of people affected and the potential savings to our health care system, prevention matters”, she added.

The OCDPA Legislative Day at Queen’s Park included recognition of the Alliance in the Ontario Legislature, an MPP luncheon and one-on-one meetings with MPPs to raise awareness about why #PreventionMatters for the health of Ontarians and the sustainability of Ontario’s health system.