Today’s blog post comes from Malcolm Snow. Malcolm is an undergraduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland where he is studying Psychology. He is also one of the Chapter Representatives on the OC-SNP National Executive.
The upcoming federal election is in full swing as party leaders travel around the country, meeting with local candidates to engage with the public to discuss their vision for Canada’s future. Each day is filled with new promises, and prospective solutions to the problems and concerns that Canadians are expressing during this election.
Following this theme, I decided to reflect on the progress we have made advocating our mission to the Federal Government, as well as measures that everyone can do throughout this election campaign to ensure that our voices are heard regarding the state of obesity in Canada. At the time of this blog’s publication, Health Canada considers obesity to be a risk factor for a number of chronic diseases.1 Both the Canadian Medical Association and World Health Organization now considers obesity to be a chronic disease.2 It is time that the federal government acknowledges obesity as a chronic disease and begins treating it accordingly.
Prior to this year’s 6th Canadian Obesity Summit, representatives from Obesity Canada met with fifteen Federal Members of Parliament from various parties to continue advocating for better access to treatment, and the recognition of obesity as a chronic disease for the Canadians that are living with obesity. The event was successful in continuing our collective pursuit of advocacy work.
Obesity Canada’s report card on access to obesity treatment for adults in Canada was released earlier this year. Unfortunately, the report indicates that there have been relatively minimal, if any improvements based on the recommendations that were made in the 2017 report card. Based on the report’s findings for 2019, Obesity Canada made five key recommendations to government where action is needed. These recommendations are parallel those that were recommended in 2017, such as: adopting the position that obesity is chronic disease and utilize resources accordingly, recognize that weight bias and stigma are barriers for people living with obesity, and that government care plans should include anti-obesity medications, and weight-management programs in provincial drug benefit plans.
It is important to continue this conversation, and have our voices heard by the candidates throughout this election. Obesity Canada has worked on resources that enable the public to voice these concerns and continue the discussion. Here are some ways to give obesity-related healthcare a strong voice during this election:
- Email your local candidates with the “One-Click Letter” that highlights the 8 core findings and 5 key recommendations based on the results from the 2019 report card.
- Ask doorknockers what their respective parties views are on health care, with a specific focus on obesity.
- Tweet about one of these core findings to begin a discussion with candidates.
It is time that the government finally recognizes obesity as a chronic disease. There are currently more than six million Canadians living with obesity, who are facing the consequences of inaction from the Federal Government such as limited access to treatment, weight bias, and discrimination throughout their everyday lives.
So, I encourage you to continue advocating for the Federal Government to act on our concerns to create a better delivery of obesity-focused healthcare that every Canadian living with obesity deserves. Together, we will be the ones that creates change.
Be sure to vote on October 21st!
- Health Canada. Obesity. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/lifestyles/obesity.html (accessed September 30th, 2019).
- Canadian Medical Association. CMA PolicyBase. Available at: https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11700 (Accessed September 30th, 2019).