Viewpoints: Help take wellness off the government’s waiting list

March 8, 2016
Les Hagen, Wellness Alberta

 

Make Alberta Better is a new campaign by Wellness Alberta aimed at securing provincial government support for the creation of a well-financed, effective and sustainable wellness foundation. The proposed foundation will tackle the enormous impact of chronic disease and injury through proven prevention strategies. The Alberta Teachers’ Association is supporting this provincial campaign.

Wellness Alberta is urging the Rachel Notley government to take wellness off the waiting list by investing meaningful funding in a wellness foundation to reduce chronic disease and injury. This funding could be easily derived from a small wellness levy applied to tobacco, alcohol and sugar- sweetened beverages.

The coalition hopes to have an ally in the premier and her government.

While serving as the NDP health critic, Notley declared that it’s time for the Alberta government to walk the talk on wellness. Wellness Alberta couldn’t agree more.

Chronic disease and injury account for 90 per cent of the illness burden in Canada, and yet only one per cent of the total health-care budget is invested in the primary prevention of these illnesses and conditions. Wellness Alberta is urging the government to double this investment and to direct the funding to the creation of a new wellness foundation that will be sustained for many years to come.

With health-care costs approaching 50 per cent of the total provincial budget, there has never been a more critical time for the government to invest in wellness and reduce demands on health care.

However, there is much more at stake than rising health-care costs and protecting our health-care system.

Most Albertans have been touched by the tremendous impact of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness and addictions. These illnesses are placing an enormous strain on individuals, families, communities, the economy and our quality of life.

Fortunately, these illnesses are largely preventable if effective measures are taken well in advance to address the risk factors that cause chronic disease. A properly funded wellness foundation could tackle these risk factors head-on through proven primary prevention strategies.

The time to act is now. Please take two minutes to sign our online petition at makealbertabetter.ca and tell your MLA to take wellness off the waiting list.

Your support will help to tip the scales toward a healthier and brighter Alberta.

Don’t let wellness wait any ­longer. You can help make Alberta better now. ❚

This opinion column represents the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.