This blog post comes from Ian Patton, our Director of Public Advocacy and Engagement. You may reach Ian at email@example.com
Today I came across this blog post from Imagine Canada which I thought was a simple and easy read as an introduction into advocacy. The biggest thing to take away is your voice matters, and your MPs are elected to represent you and make sure your voice is heard in the government.
Building a relationship with your MP is a great way to start your advocacy journey. Your MP’s job is to make sure your voice is being heard in government, no matter what side of the bench they sit on.
If you want change (I know I do), sometimes you have to ask for it. In the case of obesity, it is a complicated issue that is often overlooked or ignored by policy makers. There are a number of different reasons for that but if we look at some of the less sinister takes on this (not all of them are heartless mean jerks who don’t care about their constituents), it can often come down to something as simple as not knowing.
If no one ever speaks up, decision makers will never know that this is an issue we need to address and they will not put it on their “to do list”. This is why we need more and more people talking about obesity as a chronic disease, and demanding better treatment from our healthcare system.
In the above blog they mention building a relationship with your Member of Parliament as an easy first step, and they are right. Your MP is elected to represent you and your needs. You have every right to email, call or meet with your MP to discuss the issues that are important to you. The more people that do this the more they hear about obesity and the more they will be willing to work for the change we are looking for. They work for you, make them earn their keep.
If you are discussing obesity here are some key talking points that you can bring up and ask them to consider:
- Recognize obesity as a chronic disease – The evidence is clear but no provincial health authority or the federal government recognize or treat obesity as a chronic disease
- Demand fair and equitable access to obesity management – Canadians have very little access to obesity treatment and it begins with trained professionals. Doctors receive almost no training on obesity and are expected to manage the disease, we need to double, triple and quadruple the number of certified obesity specialists and Certified Bariatric Educators.
- Ask for help in gaining access to proven, evidence informed treatments like any other chronic disease. Anti-obesity medications are not covered under most public or private insurance, even though they are an effective treatment for a chronic disease. There is also obscene waiting times for bariatric surgery meaning that many people are waiting years and years before treatment, allowing their disease to get worse and cause more complications. Ask for funding to improve wait times for surgical and non-surgical bariatric programs.
- Raise the issue of weight bias and discrimination. make sure they know that individuals living with obesity are treated differently in healthcare, education, the workplace and even out in public. It is a human rights issue that limits our ability to successfully live in Canadian society and we deserve to have the same access as anyone else. Weight and size discrimination hurts Canadians and needs to stop.
- Or you can simply point them in the direction of Obesity Canada and we will happily follow through on all of these issues and more!
If you are interested in learning more about advocacy, the work Obesity Canada is doing or to engage with a private, safe community of peers, consider joining our new platform for individuals living with obesity, OC-Connect. Click on the link and request to join the community!
Have you ever talked with one of your elected officials? Let us know in the comments below how it went.