Canada's most prominent health organizations call on the Ontario government to invest now to prevent Ontario's looming health crisis

30 January 2012


Ontario is facing an urgent health care crisis with a staggering financial and human cost. The tragedy is that it is preventable but not enough is being done. That’s the message sent today by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Ontario, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, Ophea, and other members of the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA) to the Ontario government as they launch Better Health is Worth 0.5%.

“This March, the Ontario government will deliver its 2012 budget; this is a critical opportunity to influence and shape the future health of Ontarians,” says Mark Holland, Director, Government Relations, Ontario, Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Today we are calling on the public to help us achieve our goal. We are asking them to reach out to their MPP using our website,"

“Better Health is worth 0.5% of the Ontario budget and together, we need to encourage the government to act. By investing an additional $170 million in health promotion and disease prevention, we can curb crushing health care costs. Ontario spends nearly 50% of the provincial budget on healthcare to treat those who are already sick. That’s a staggering 46 billion and quickly rising — we need to take action now and keep Ontarians healthy.”

Up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke, and about half of all cancers, can be prevented through healthy public policies and lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity, healthy eating, reducing high-risk alcohol consumption and eliminating tobacco use. Currently, the government spends only 0.35% of its budget on health promotion; the Better Health is Worth 0.5% campaign aims to see that increased.

“It is imperative that the Government of Ontario commits to a strong investment in public policies that support and encourage Ontarians to make healthy choices to help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases,” says Rowena Pinto, Senior Director, Public Affairs, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division.

“The Better Health is Worth 0.5% campaign encourages the public to tell their MPP, Premier and Finance Minister that their health is worth 0.5% of the budget,” added Holland.

The cost of medical treatment and lost productivity for chronic diseases in Canada such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and lung diseases is estimated at a staggering $80 billion annually and climbing. By 2030, healthcare costs could take up to 80% of Ontario’s program budget if nothing is done.

“Together we can put a stop to soaring health care costs and ensure better, healthier lives for all Ontarians,” said Dr. James Mandigo, President of Ophea’s Board of Directors. “We are urging all Ontarians to make a difference; reach out to your MPP to let them know that better health is worth 0.5%.”

How does Ontario measure up?

British Columbia spends $21 per person in health promotion and illness prevention. Québec spends $16 per person. Yet Ontario only spends $7 per person.

“BC invests three times more than Ontario in health promotion policies and programs and their residents smoke less, are more physically active, and have healthier body weights. This clearly is leading to higher life expectancy rates than the rest of Canada,” says Chris Markham, Co-Chair, OCDPA. “We deserve to have the Ontario government invest in our health for this generation and beyond.”

About the Campaign:

The Better Health is Worth 0.5% campaign is an extension of the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA’s) Healthiest Province initiative, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s successful Healthy Candidates campaign. It is a historic collaboration of health partners that holds parties to their election promises and continues our push to make Ontario the healthiest province in Canada. Through MPP visits, local activations and engagement, digital advocacy and social networking, the goal is to see this year’s budget increase spending on prevention and health promotion from 0.35% of the provincial budget to 0.5%.

For more information on the Better Health is Worth 0.5% campaign or to take action now, please visit: .

Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA), consisting of 26 member organizations, is the province’s collective voice on chronic disease prevention policies and programming. More information is available at

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy. For more information visit:

Ophea is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting schools and communities through quality program supports, partnerships and advocacy, and is led by the vision that all kids will value, participate in, and make a lifelong commitment to healthy active living. For more information, visit

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Justin Edmonstone

Public Affairs

Canadian Cancer Society

Ontario Division

Phone: 416-323-7026