Madam Chair, first, I want to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Oakville.
Indeed, I will take a few minutes tonight to share my passion, my interests and my concerns regarding an important aspect of our health care system, of which, I am sure, the minister is totally aware.
First, it is important to state certain facts to be able to ask questions and see if the required amounts have been adequately invested in prevention. I am obviously talking about healthy lifestyles and prevention, an issue of particular interest to me.
Many things have led to the inclusion of healthy lifestyles in the priorities of Health Canada and of the Government of Canada.
A growing body of evidence from various countries shows that the human, social, economic and medical costs of avoidable chronic diseases that are non contagious, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, diabetes and certain types of cancer, are significant and growing in various countries, including Canada.
The total economic cost of diseases, disabilities and deaths related to chronic diseases in Canada presently exceeds $80 billion.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 90% of type II diabetes and 80% of coronary heart disease could be prevented or delayed by eating healthily, exercising regularly, not smoking and effectively managing stress.
Allow me to quote some instructive statistics. It is estimated that 90% of lung cancers and 30% of all other cancer-related deaths in Canada could be prevented in a tobacco-free society.
We know that health is not just about treating disease. We must now look into how to redirect our efforts. We must—and I am sure the hon. minister is well aware of this—invest upstream, that is, in the health/disease continuum, to have a positive influence on the quality of life of Canadians.
Naturally, there are, among other upstream investments, integrated and cooperative approaches to health promotion, disease and injury prevention, as well as a complete range of public health activities designed to alleviate the burden of chronic disease on the health system.
As hon. members know, during their September 2001 meeting, the Minister of Health and her provincial and territorial counterparts agreed—I am happy about that—to work together on Canada-wide strategies for the short, medium and long term in terms of healthy lifestyles with a focus on eating habits and physical activity and their relationship with a healthy weight.
They also agreed to organize a national symposium on healthy lifestyles, bringing together government and non-government health organizations, among others. Health specialists, representatives of the first nations and the business community, as well as other stakeholders, will also be invited to participate.
I was also pleased to see that the federal government made a commitment to healthy lifestyles in its September 2002 Speech from the Throne. Furthermore, the 2003 first ministers agreement on the renewal of health care urged health ministers to focus on strategies and healthy lifestyles.
A number of territories and provinces have implemented or are about to implement integrated strategies combining healthy eating, physical activity, preventing chronic disease as well as preventing and fighting diabetes and smoking.
It is absolutely necessary, however, to take a coordinated, Canada-wide approach—