Canadians now face and seem to accept worse health, more disability and higher health costs on Canada Health Day.
It is ironic that in advance of Canada Health Day (May 12th) – a day to honor and celebrate public health initiatives that help keep Canadians healthy – that the Federal Government defeated Bill C-460 in parliament on Tuesday.
If passed, Bill C-460 would have implemented an effective sodium reduction strategy, projected to save 10s of thousands of Canadian lives and hospitalizations per year and prevent hypertension in more than 2 million. In addition it was projected to save billions in health care spending per year and was a key stepping stone to a sustainable health care system. The bill was supported directly by 60 health care professional, scientific and charitable organizations. Over 80% of Canadians also supported the approach proposed in Bill C-460 for
effective sodium reduction.
The Premiers of the Canadian Provinces and Territories have advocated for the Federal government to take action to effectively reduce dietary sodium. In parliament, the bill was supported by all members of the NDP, Liberal, Bloc Québécois, as well as Ms Elizabeth May (Green Party) and Mr. Bruce Hyer (Independent) and Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Conservative Party). The Conservative Party members on mass otherwise voted against the expressed interests and wishes of Canadians, against a bill that would promote health, help structure a sustainable health care system and save money. Several members of the Conservative Party issued misleading statements about the bill in the led up to the vote.
There are three options for Canadians.
The first is to accept that we will have less healthy lives with more premature death and disability and that more and more of our tax dollars will be spent on the health care system.
The second is for individual Canadians to become more politically active and express their views on health to their Federal elected representatives (this appears to be only necessary for Conservative representatives) and ask them to take clear effective actions supported by the scientific and health care expert community. The opportunity for change prior to the next election is clearly in the hands of the Conservative party now that they have defeated Bill C-460.
The third is to ensure that in the next election that Federal candidates clearly understand the wishes of Canadians for improved health and a sustainable health care system. With unhealthy diet being the leading risk for death, disability andlife years lost in Canada and the food supply being primarily a federal mandate, this means taking appropriate regulatory actions to ensure a healthy food supply.
Prior to the last election the Conservative party supported an effective sodium reduction strategy however after achieving a majority it is clear they currently do not.
If Canadians care, they should make their concerns heard.
Take Action: Let your MP know how you feel about their vote.
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Dr. Norm Campbell is a Professor of Medicine, Community Health Sciences, Physiology and Pharmacology, the University of Calgary, Canada, and the Heart
and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) Chair in Hypertension Prevention and Control. He is also the co-Chair, PAHO-WHO Technical Advisory Group to mobilize cardiovascular disease prevention through dietary salt control policies and interventions.
This blog was originally posted at Hypertension Talk: http://www.hypertensiontalk.com/