Evidence of meeting #21 for Health in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was education.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Kelly Murumets  President and Chief Executive Officer, ParticipACTION
  • Scott Haldane  President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA Canada
  • Patrick Morency  Public Health Physician, Urban Environment and Health, Direction de santé publique, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal
  • Andrea Grantham  Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Physical and Health Education Canada
  • Chris Jones  Representative, Senior Leader, Sport Matters, Physical and Health Education Canada

December 12th, 2011 / 5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

I want to thank Mr. Lemieux for kindly giving me his spot, so that I could ask a question. I'm being timed, too, by the way, by my friendly clerk here.

I was very interested at the beginning of this very important dialogue today to hear a lot about schools. I taught in a school for 23 years. It grieved me when I was teaching to see the phys. ed. programs gradually being cut out of the school curriculum. Our family was very physically active—not me as much as everybody else, but I have to say that it makes a big difference.

The studies that you quoted are indeed very accurate. I know I used to even use them when I was in school, saying we need phys. ed. programs. It is provincial jurisdiction. It was good to hear about the YMCA and accessibility. It was very good to hear about the private-public partnerships.

Having said this, what can the federal government do to be an umbrella that will...? I think education is our greatest weapon. How can we assist in terms of educating the community as a whole in this very important initiative to just get moving and do it day by day?

We've heard that now, with our seniors population, for the first time in Canada we're going to have, in three to five years, more seniors than we have young people in this country. This is the first time Canada has experienced this. The other thing is the lack of physical activity. For the first time, we have obese children. That didn't used to be a problem.

In talking about jurisdictions, could any of you please give some comment on how the federal government could help in that? I'll begin with Ms. Grantham.

5:15 p.m.

Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Physical and Health Education Canada

Andrea Grantham

That's an issue that Physical and Health Education Canada deals with all the time, as a national organization trying to influence education. When we look at statistics, like we have today, around physical inactivity and obesity, it becomes a health issue.

We work closely with our provincial partners. The physical literacy achievement award—“passport for life” is what we call it—is a solution where we look at how we can engage all of our provincial partners in the development of a program that will reach all the coasts of this country and provide tools for a teacher, coach, or parents to assess where their child is in terms of their physical literacy abilities, where they are lacking, and how we can, through our physical education program, community programs, and other programs, help them to improve and change. If they have that foundation in place, they will move on.

It's built from the former Canada fitness award program, which was fitness-focused only. This one really focuses on fitness as well as movement skills, healthy living practices, and physical activity beyond the school system. The teachers will look at supporting children in addressing each of those four key areas. It makes very strong links to the communities. Our provinces are a big part of it. They are saying they need user-friendly tools to support teachers, who are already time-constrained, but need to understand where the kids they are working with are and how they can best help them. That's a big solution right there.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Thank you.

I think Mr. Haldane and Ms. Murumets had comments.

Mr. Haldane.

5:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA Canada

Scott Haldane

I think the federal government's biggest opportunity to influence is coming up with the renewal of the health accord. I think there is a way in which to set some expectations for what the next health accord is actually going to be based on. That's one option.

The second thing is the federal government is actually the direct funder of, and has responsibility for, an education system—the first nations education system. I would suggest this is an education system that is actually misnamed. It's not a system at all. It's a non-system. It's broken. It's not working for first nations.

I think there's an opportunity for the federal government, through it's fiscal policy and support of first nations, to actually make this an example for the provinces, as opposed to something that we all consider to be not working. It could be where investments could be made that really show that this kind of investment in physical activity, healthy living, and so on can really make a difference.

Obviously, first nations want to control their own education system, but the federal government is a direct funder of that, and could make a significant difference. They could make it a model instead of a failed system.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Ms. Murumets.

5:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, ParticipACTION

Kelly Murumets

I think that the federal government going into the provinces and territories heads into very tricky waters. It is about working with organizations like PHE Canada and ParticipACTION that are national and fondly thought of by the ministries of education and ministries of health at the provincial and territorial levels. By creating programs that go across the country, facilitated through national organizations—PHE Canada or ParticipACTION—we're able to create consortiums that already exist in each of the provinces and territories between health and education and we can start to work together.

I think someone asked earlier about school boards. Once you start there, at the provincial and territorial level, there's a network of organizations that ParticipACTION or PHE Canada can knit together in that province or territory. We can bring the national program to life at the provincial and territorial level but also at the grassroots level. I think these national mechanisms are actually underutilized by the federal government.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Mr. Jones.

5:20 p.m.

Representative, Senior Leader, Sport Matters, Physical and Health Education Canada

Chris Jones

Thank you for the question.

I think another opportunity is the renewal of the Canadian sport policy, which is just being drafted at the moment. An extensive process of consultation has taken place. The federal government has done a superb job on it.

One of the big pieces in it is engaging the provinces in the promotion of sport and physical activity—getting their buy-in. It's an educative process, and I think there's a way for us all to work together on this.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Dr. Morency, did you want to make a comment?

5:20 p.m.

Public Health Physician, Urban Environment and Health, Direction de santé publique, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal

Dr. Patrick Morency

Yes, thanks. It's not about education, but about norms—road construction norms—that were developed in the 1950s or 1960s and are a major obstacle to all municipal councils in Canada, and federal jurisdictions too. There is a need for revised norms, which are in the process of being revised by civil engineers, but we need them to be adopted at the federal level for the municipalities and provinces to be able to build pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly roads.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

I want to thank you all. We've come to the end of our time.

Thank you again, Mr. Lemieux, for the opportunity to ask a question. I can see you can hear me.

I want to thank you very much for coming and sharing all your very insightful and learned expertise in this area. It's an extremely important topic.

And I want to thank the committee members for their very good questions today.

With that, the committee is adjourned.