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Coalition encourages Notley government to take wellness off the waiting list

Wellness Alberta News Release

WA-logoCalgary – Today a coalition of over 120 organizations, institutions and governing bodies is launching a new campaign to enlist Albertans in its efforts to secure a provincial Wellness Foundation.  The Make Alberta Better campaign is mobilizing thousands of Albertans in to contact their MLAs in support of a significant and protected government investment in chronic disease and injury prevention. Campaign supporters will be urging MLAs to make Alberta better through the creation of a new provincial Wellness Foundation to tackle the enormous burden of chronic disease and injury.  Currently only one percent of the total healthcare budget is devoted to the primary prevention of chronic illness and injuries yet these conditions account for 90 percent of the illness burden.  The coalition is urging the Notley government to double this investment through the creation of an effective and sustainable Wellness Foundation that will improve the quality of life and reduce demands on healthcare.

“Today we are urging all Albertans to help make Alberta better by asking your MLA to support the creation of a provincial Wellness Foundation” said Jim Gray, Wellness Alberta chair.  “The government needs to take wellness off the waiting list in order to stem the tide of chronic disease and injury in this province.  We simply can’t afford to wait any longer with our healthcare costs now approaching 50 percent of the total provincial budget.  We must invest in the health of Albertans today to achieve better results tomorrow.  Albertans deserve a first-class Wellness Foundation that will invest in our human infrastructure and improve our quality of life, our economy and our healthcare system for many years to come.”

The proposed foundation will focus on preventing the major risk factors that are associated with chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, addictions, mental illness and preventable injuries.  The foundation will invest in effective primary prevention strategies that have been proven to achieve results.  Studies show that wellness strategies produce an average return on investment of five dollars for every dollar spent and some can achieve financial returns of up to 50:1.

“Our current approach to chronic disease and injury prevention is not achieving the desired results” said Dr. Doreen Rabi, health researcher at the University of Calgary.  “Chronic disease and injury continue to place a tremendous burden on our society and our healthcare system.  We are not investing adequate resources in effective and proven strategies to prevent these conditions before they take hold.  A properly financed and structured Wellness Foundation can provide the critical mass that is required to achieve results and will foster a culture of wellness among future generations.  We simply can’t afford not to invest in wellness.”

The coalition is proposing the creation of a special wellness levy on tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages to provide sufficient and sustainable funding for wellness initiatives.   A two percent wellness levy on these products would could generate about $180 million annually.

“Wellness Alberta is working with the Notley government to find an effective solution to the chronic disease epidemic” said Donna Hastings, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT and Nunavut.  “We are reaching out to the government with practical, thoughtful and constructive advice on how best to tackle one of the most challenging issues of our time.  We are also building a groundswell of support to encourage the government make wellness a top priority.  We know the government is facing some tough fiscal challenges and that’s why we are proposing a new revenue source through the creation of a dedicated wellness levy.  Even a small two percent wellness levy on tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages could make all the difference. We believe that a dedicated wellness levy is the most viable approach to finance a Wellness Foundation given the current economic situation.”

Over the next few months, Wellness Alberta will be actively enlisting public support for the Make Alberta Better campaign among its coalition members and through ongoing publicity.  The coalition has mounted an online petition and letter writing campaign to encourage thousands of Albertans to let their MLA know that they support a Wellness Foundation.

A public opinion poll conducted last August of 1,005 Albertans by Leger Research revealed that 79 per cent of Albertans want the Notley government to invest in effective strategies to keep people healthy, out of the hospital and on the job.  More than three-quarters of respondents support the creation of a new wellness foundation to manage these investments.  Two-thirds of respondents agree with investing at least two percent of the total healthcare budget in the primary prevention of chronic disease and injury.  Most supporters favoured a special wellness levy on tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages to finance the foundation.

“Albertans strongly support more action on wellness,” said Jim Gray. “We urge all Albertans to visit our website—–and sign our petition for a provincial Wellness Foundation.  The Notley government can make Alberta better through a meaningful investment in a provincial wellness foundation that will reduce chronic disease and injury.  We encourage the government to make the health of Albertans a top priority through the creation of a well-financed, effective and sustainable Wellness Foundation.”



Les Hagen at 780-919-5546
Donna Hastings or Kate Chidester at 780-991-2323

Tell your MLA to take wellness off the waiting list.

Start by entering your postal code:

You will be presented with the petition text on the next page.

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