Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Thursday, April 7, 2022 – On this World Health Day, health professionals across Canada join the WHO in calling for a transition to a society explicitly focused on well-being and call on the governments of Canada and its provinces and territories to undertake overarching shifts in approach to focus on well-being.
In an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister and Premiers, 82 health professionals and 38 health organizations including the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast, the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment (CANE), the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care (CCGHC), and the Réseau d’action pour la santé durable du Québec (RASDQ) are asking for actions to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.
The letter’s signatories recommend the governments of Canada and its provinces and territories undertake the following three overarching shifts in approach:
- Coordinate a healthy approach to society centered on well-being and interconnection within nature with the following key actions:
- Situate a Well-being Society Office in the Privy Council Office federally and in the Cabinet Offices in the provinces and territories to guide and coordinate well-being policy across government.
- Create a Well-being Society Commissioner who reports directly to Parliament federally and to the legislatures in each province and territory.
- Consider a Well-being for Future Generations Act to ensure intergenerational accountability.
- Transition towards a well-being focus for Canada’s economy with the following key actions:
- In consultation with Indigenous knowledge holders, complete development of the Quality of Life Framework for Canada that defines success beyond GDP.
- Regularly measure success as defined by the Quality of Life Framework.
- Based on these measurements, develop and implement strategies to improve low- and mediocre-scoring areas, and to maintain success in high-scoring areas.
- Reduce GDP reporting to twice a year and replace the reporting in other financial quarters with the Quality of Life metrics.
- Build a sustainable health system that helps both people and the planet flourish with the following key actions:
- Fund a national secretariat to support work by the provinces directed towards the fulfillment of Canada’s commitment to the WHO resilient, low-carbon health systems initiative.
- Escalate Canada’s COP26 commitment to join the 14 countries that have established a date for achieving net-zero healthcare emissions, which will enable Canada to benefit from the support of an upcoming WHO-NHS secretariat designed to spread and scale best practices.
- Model healthcare emissions as part of Canada’s net-zero commitments and create systems which enable the mass purchasing power of the health sector to drive decarbonization and support well-being society goals.
“We, as individuals and organizations focused on the health of people and the planet, invite the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to engage in a moment of integration and revival in honour of World Health Day. Overlapping global health emergencies including war, COVID-19, and the climate and biodiversity crises make clear that the foundations upon which health and health systems are built are threatened. We join the WHO in calling for a transition to a society explicitly focused on well-being,” expresses Dr. Courtney Howard, Yellowknives Dene territory Emergency Physician and Past President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
“We concur with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that “humanity is waging war on nature… this is suicidal” and that there is a triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution occurring simultaneously and threatening human and planetary health. We ask with urgency that our leaders in British Columbia and in Canada heed the call of the world’s leading medical journals and deal seriously with this immense threat to public health,” says Dr. Rashmi Chadha, addiction physician and member of Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast.
“Advocating for health equity has always been at the core of the nursing profession. How better to achieve this goal than to build a well-being society on a healthy planet,” states Helen Boyd, registered nurse and member of the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment.
“It is imperative that Canada’s senior health leaders and professionals take seriously the warnings from the World Health Organization and work together to preserve our planet. We need to build climate resilient and low carbon sustainable health systems and empower staff and colleagues to take action now,” says Neil Ritchie, Executive Director of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care.
“Healthcare professionals across the country are extremely concerned about environmental threats to health. Our health depends on a healthy planet. Solutions that are good for the planet are also good for our health. The ambitious actions required to fight and adapt to climate change will also reduce the burden of diseases and save healthcare costs. As such, ambitious climate action is a triple-win for Canadians. We are proud to take the Planetary Health Pledge to support a healthier Canada, and urge all sectors to raise their ambition in fighting and adapting to climate change,” highlights Dr. Olena Zotova, founder and president of the Réseau d’action pour la santé durable du Québec (RASDQ) / Quebec Sustainable Health Network.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a physician-directed non-profit organization working to secure human health by protecting the planet. Since its founding in 1993, CAPE’s work has achieved substantial policy victories in collaboration with many partners in the environmental and health movements. From coast to coast to coast, the organization operates throughout the country with regional committees active in most provinces and all territories.
The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care is Canada’s premier green health care resource network and is leading the evolution of sustainability in Canada’s health sector as a national voice and catalyst for environmental change. Collaboratively, we strive to reduce health care’s ecological impact from compassionate care delivery while providing a nurturing platform upon which to discuss and promote best practices, innovation, environmental responsibility and climate change resiliency.
The Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment (CANE) is an all-volunteer national organization that was founded in 2008. Its mission is to promote planetary health among nurses and people in Canada and globally. We achieve this by engaging with advocacy, education, research, practice, and policy at all levels of nursing and society. Over the years, CANE has contributed to numerous policy statements and campaigns with its collaborators to support a healthy planet for generations to come.
Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast is a grassroots group of activist physicians working with communities to grow an intersectional, decolonial, and anti-racist movement on the climate and ecologic emergency. We use a long-term approach to address the complex interconnected issues and structural problems contributing to this emergency, and stand in solidarity with Indigenous land and water protectors. We use our health lens and evidence-informed approach to bring light to structural injustices that impact the earth we share. We are based on Coast Salish traditional territories, “Vancouver, B.C.”, and we welcome all healthcare professionals.
The Réseau d’action pour la santé durable du Québec (RASDQ) unites 20 healthcare and social services organizations – collectively representing 150,000 people from the sector – for sustainable health in a healthy environment in Québec. The Réseau d’action fosters education and interdisciplinary collaboration around actions to prevent the climate crisis and reduce environmental risks to health, as well as adapt to inevitable health impacts. The Réseau is sponsored by the Association pour la santé publique du Québec (ASPQ).
National Communications Director
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
514-267-2589 | email@example.com
Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast
250-532-6267 | elliott@iD2.ca
CANE Board Member
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment
Marketing and Outreach Coordinator
Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care
Coordinateur principal du RASDQ | Responsable du développement pour l’ASPQ
Réseau d’action pour la santé durable du Québec (RASDQ) / Quebec Sustainable Health Network
438-521-8607 | firstname.lastname@example.org