West Vancouver’s MP is taking another run at creating a National Day of Health and Fitness in Canada.
John Weston, the Conservative MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, is partnering with Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine to re-introduce a bill that would make the first Saturday in June National Health and Fitness Day and call on municipal governments to help in whatever way they can with their own fitness facilities.
Weston’s first attempt via a private members bill was relegated to the bottom of the pile in the House of Commons lottery last year but Greene Raine, Olympic gold medal skier, Canada’s female athlete of the 20th century and the woman for whom Nancy Greene Way on Grouse Mountain is named, was all too happy to bring the bill to the Senate where it stands a much greater chance of being read and sent to the house.
“I’m delighted Nancy was able to bring this in through the Senate because, even though its slightly different, the objectives are the same and there’s a far greater likelihood it’s going to become law, and we need to make it happen before 2015,” said Weston.
Greene Raine introduced the revised bill in the Senate last week and senators are lining up to speak in favour of it already.
Weston has already secured all-party support in the House of Commons and the hope is to have the bill become law before June 7, 2014.
Both are championing the bill as a nationally visible gesture to turn around Canadians’ lurch into sedentary lifestyles.
“We’ve heard time and again how less than 15 per cent of our youth get one-hour a day they’re supposed to get of physical activity. The consequences are powerful and disturbing,” Weston said, noting that federal government spends $7 billion per year in treating obesity related illnesses. “The answer is very clear. We have to get people out doing what they used to do more often, which is being physically active.”
Greene Raine attributes the trend, in part, to single parents and households where both parents work and there isn’t enough time to ensure that kids get the exercise they need.
Beyond that, parents are more afraid to let their kids play unsupervised out of eyeshot, she added.
“It’s sad to say, but we have good facilities and they’re not being utilized and programs are dropping, not because of the cost but because kids would rather play on their Game Boys and the consequences are serious,” Greene Raine said. “They have to recognize that our health-care system is about fixing people up when they’re sick or injured. It’s not about becoming healthy.”