Our Well-Being: Health, Not Just Health Care

An overwhelming majority of Canadians see our universal health care system as one of the cornerstones of our country. Regardless of personal wealth or status, every Canadian has the right to the same quality of health care. Canadians have built a visionary health care system and the Green Party firmly opposes any steps that would open the door to two-tier health care. Canada's public health care system must never be undermined by privatizing services. For the most part, our health care system treats the symptoms and not the causes of our illnesses. Old-line politicians continue to pump money into the system, as if money alone is the solution. Meanwhile, the Canadian Cancer Society is asking the government for $50 million to develop a prevention plan that would reduce cancer diagnosis by an estimated 400,000 cases. Their miracle cure for cancer is more exercise, healthy eating and no smoking. In Canada, child obesity has tripled in the last two decades, average physical activity has plummeted among office working Canadians and our sugar intake per capita is three times the average recommended by the OECD. In the meantime, the number of cancer cases is growing twice as fast as the population and heart-related illnesses have skyrocketed. Old-line political parties say the health care crisis is mainly a crisis in hospital funding and rising drug costs. The Green Party understands the bigger picture. The real answer is to go beyond a health care system to develop a fully-integrated health system, one that focuses on solving the underlying problems affecting our well-being, not just treating the symptoms. We can shift our way of life, we can shift away from our fast food consumption culture and towards physical activity. We can build a sustainable public health system by fostering illness prevention through healthy and active living. But healthy living is only a part of what will keep Canadians healthy. The other part is a healthy home. We need to start making the connection between a healthy environment and a healthy life. Canadians can no longer afford to be complacent in the face of mounting evidence that degradations in their environment are causing degradations of their health. Governments estimate that air pollution is responsible for thousands of premature deaths every year as well as causing asthma in 1 out of 5 children. In the last decade, skin cancer has increased by 30 per cent. Pesticides that release powerful carcinogens and cause reproductive problems are still widely used and unregulated. Protection of the environment will translate into a greater balance in our health and will reduce pressure on our public health system. We can reduce waiting times for medical procedures, make family doctors more accessible, increase the number of doctors and nurses and enforce the Canada Health Act by reforming delivery systems and allocating funding where it is needed. For instance, over the last 20 years, drug prescriptions have risen from 8.7 per cent to 16 per cent of total health care costs. It's estimated that billions of dollars are lost every year through inappropriate prescription drug treatment. A sustainable health care system needs more than just increased tax dollars. It needs:
  • Support - through health-conscious environmental policies.
  • Relief - through practical promotion of healthy lifestyles, especially for children.
  • Nourishment - through health-conscious regulation of the food industry.
  • Coordination - through a broader focus on health in all our social programs.
The Green Party has the vision to make health a reality in Canada. Green Party MPs will work to:
  • Use the full force of the Canada Health Act, federal spending power and the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to oppose any steps that open the way to two-tier health care in Canada.
  • Coordinate with the provinces a national pharmacare plan so that effective medications are available to all Canadians.
  • Include coverage for effective health care treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture or herbal medicines.
  • Support a public health framework to reduce the use of psychoactive drugs through rehabilitation and prevention especially for children.
  • Involve mental health clients and psychiatric survivors in research planning, policy development, program evaluation and other decisions that affect their lives and communities.
  • Assist provinces to increase the number of detox and treatment beds for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, create safe injection clinics, needle exchange programs and access for certified addicts to prescriptions for safe doses.
  • Health professionals being considered for immigration will have the licensing requirements for their profession clearly explained before entry. Landed immigrants with professional qualifications will be supported and given the opportunity to obtain Canadian licenses consistent with public safety.
  • Provide incentives for companies to reduce stress in the workplace and promote emotional health.
  • Increase taxes on tobacco products, alcohol and junk food.
  • Rapidly reduce the release of carcinogens, mutagens, neurotoxins and endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the food chain.
  • Introduce mandatory labelling of all foods containing genetically modified organisms.
  • Ban the sub-therapeutic use of agricultural antibiotics and hormones.
  • Provide more information to Canadians about healthy food choices and lifestyles.
  • Assist provinces and municipalities to implement urban agriculture and food share programs to reduce the cost of healthy food.
  • Target programs to reduce and eliminate systematic health inequities facing First Nation communities, new Canadians and other marginalized populations.
  • Commission Health Canada to do a nationwide body burden study identifying the presence of carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors, and the toxicity levels of Canadians.
  • Ban all non-natural pesticides and insecticides by the year 2010 and provide alternatives for farmers.
  • Ensure clean drinking water for all Canadian communities by 2008.
  • Initiate consultations with Canadians about end (and quality) of life issues.
  • Support the Children's Clean Air Act for Canada.
  • Prohibit reproductive cloning and require a Health Canada license for any organization or institution that performs genetic manipulation for commercial or scientific purposes.
To promote active living Green Party MPs will work to:
  • Implement the pan-Canadian goal, agreed to by all 14 Ministers responsible for physical activity, of increasing physical activity by 10 per cent over 5 years.
  • Make a strategic investment of $500 million over 5 years to aggressively address inactivity and obesity, through Health Canada and through school-based physical and health education as well as community-based programs and facilities.
  • Introduce a national standard of daily, quality participation in sport and physical activity in schools.
  • Support the development of high-performance athletes both by encouraging broad-based participation in sport, and by contributing to the provision of essential facilities, coaching and medical support for high-performance athletes, as outlined in the 2003 Canadian Sport Policy.
  • Endorse and promote the Olympic Movement's Agenda 21 for Sport, which advocates sustainable sport and recreation management practices.