When It Comes to Encouraging Physical Activity, We Are All in this Together

It might surprise you to learn that chronic diseases are the most significant cause of death and disability worldwide. In fact, three in five Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Obesity and being overweight is a huge contributor to chronic diseases. Today, one in four adults in Canada is obese, and a third of all children are already overweight or obese. These are startling numbers. And they relate to a trend that is reversible. 

As Minister of Health, I like to practice what I preach.  I’m a great believer in preventative health and promoting healthy living.  For me, there’s nothing like tapping into the unparalleled outdoor life my Edmonton home offers – the gateway to the Canadian Rockies, with hundreds of miles of hiking and skiing trails, and untapped wilderness to explore.

Staying active is a great way to get the most out of every day, no matter where we live.  It gives us the energy to meet our goals in life, and to tackle daily challenges.  And most importantly, it helps fend off disease and maintain healthy weights.  Those of us who take this to heart, however – including governments and our many partners – often find it difficult to convince others of these great benefits.  The decision to lead an active lifestyle is, after all, a personal one. 

How do we get more Canadians active?  What can we do to encourage children and youth to spend less time on the couch?  I’ve often said that, in many cases, the answers lie outside of government.  When it comes to encouraging physical activity, we’re all in this together.  Made-in-Canada innovation has transformed our country. After all, we discovered insulin, invented the wheelchair, and even the telephone! And I know that someone, somewhere out there has a million-dollar idea that will help, and I can’t wait to champion that idea.

Are you that person?  If so, read on.  The Public Health Agency of Canada is teaming up with Canadian Tire, LIFT Philanthropy Partners, and the CBC, to launch an exciting new initiative.  It’s called The Play Exchange.  Across the country, we want to seek out and develop new, innovative ideas that will encourage Canadians to lead more active and healthy lives.  It’s the first of its kind in Canada.  Whether you’re representing a community, school or organization, or have an idea on your own, you’ll have a chance to submit your idea.  And whether it’s based on new technology, harnesses community resources, or simply makes healthier choices easier choices for every one of us, your idea could make a huge difference. 

We encourage you to submit your idea through the Play Exchange website.  A panel of judges will help select the top ideas and Canadians will vote for their favourites.  These top ideas will be showcased on a national television show to air in January 2015 and the winner will receive up to $1 million to launch their idea.

The Government of Canada knows that by working together, every Canadian helps us meet our goal of healthier Canadians in a healthier world.  How do you think we can make our great country healthier and more active?  We want to hear from you – submit your idea today!