March 2007

Message from the Chairs:

Like the traditional game of Snakes and Ladders, the field of physical activity has its ups and downs. Let's hope, that, like the game, the ladders outnumber the snakes! We continue to be driven by the Pan-Canadian Physical Activity Strategy and the associated Business Plan. Click here for your opportunity to provide feedback to the Plan.

On the Ladders side of the equation, we have seen the launch of the "new ParticipACTION". Two federal departments (Sport and Health) have supported a $5 million investment over two years. CAL's Co-Chair, and former ParticipACTION staff member, Christa Costas-Bradstreet, attended the ParticipACTION launch on February 19, 2007.

With mixed emotions, CAL responded to the call for proposals from the Public Health Agency of Canada's Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Contribution Program. This program was cancelled last year, but recently resurrected as part of the federal government's Integrated Strategy on Healthy Living and Chronic Disease. On the positive side of this call for proposals, is the two year timeframe (2007-2009), rather than the typical one year. However, the call went out to over 140 organizations, which included, for the first time, healthy eating perspectives in addition to physical activity, to compete amongst themselves for a $2 million fund. CAL continues to advocate for a strategic, coordinated approach to physical activity that would eliminate this need to pit partners against one another for survival funds.

CAL, in conjunction with several other national physical activity organizations as well as provincial/territorial governments, continue to chip away at the political part of the equation to advance action by the Conservative government on their campaign promise to invest significantly in physical activity and sport. We hope the next federal budget will contain the commitment to allocate 1% of the health budget to physical activity and sport. We urge CAL members to influence this decision through letters to your MP and the Minister of Finance. Click here for more details.

Also on the Ladders side of the equation, is a proposal submitted by the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (CDPAC) at the request of PHAC to provide a coordinating role in the alignment of the prevention aspects of the various national strategies addressing cancer, heart, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases. CAL has been very involved in helping to shape this project because physical activity is an important underlying component of all these strategies. The most recent work in this area is an effort to establish physical activity indicators that would serve to guide all these strategies. The snake side: CAL responded to the specific call for Proposals under the federal Diabetes Strategy in the fall of 2006 and, despite consultation with the funder, we were unsuccessful on both proposals. Although physical activity is touted as such a strong underpinning of these chronic diseases, it continues to be challenging to align our efforts. Indeed, it is our understanding that none of the nine physical activity focused proposals to the Diabetes Strategy were supported.

Within this fiscal year (2006-07), CAL has been working on five initiatives, each of which is explored in more detail in this newsletter:

  • Strategic Exploration Meetings with physical activity 'action centres' across local, provincial/territorial, national, and private, public and voluntary sector stakeholders of the Coalition to design mechanisms for better exchange across the country and across sectors.

  • Three technology based 'fireside chats' with Coalition stakeholders to increase dialogue on physical activity matters of national significance.

  • Two discussion papers will be provided to physical activity stakeholders for discussion and input, and two articles for distribution to health sector organizations.

  • Updates to the CAL Web site – stay tuned!

  • A comprehensive mapping of the physical activity delivery system in Canada including stakeholders, gaps, reach, value to Canadians with health disparities, opportunities for collaboration, and recommendations for increased coordination.

Also included in this newsletter are "current events and updates" that outline other happenings in the field.

The CAL Board of Directors has been working diligently to keep physical activity on the political agenda and advance work in strategic areas. We are pleased to invite you to our Annual General Meeting. Stay tuned for separate correspondence regarding the details.

Yours in health,

Nancy Dubois & Christa Costas-Bradstreet
Co-Chairs, Coalition for Active Living

Current events and updates

1. Influence the Federal Budget, March 19
The federal budget is in development and we have just a small window to convince the new Conservative government to act on its promise to invest in physical activity IN THIS BUDGET.

The government platform in the election included a commitment to invest 1% of federal health spending (or at least $300 million/year) in physical activity and sport. The Coalition for Active Living has called on the federal government to invest $100 million annually in physical activity for years. The new government has the right idea with its 1% promise… we just need them to act and let them know that the Child's Fitness Tax Credit and the reinstatement of ParticipACTION are a step in the right direction that need to be built on with the 1% investment.

The government needs to hear from people who care about physical activity - from families, from community groups, from health professionals, from friends of physical activity and sport.

It's easy. Send an email to the Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty. That's it. Copy your MP (click here for a list). Send CAL a blind copy if you want to (

What to say?

Use your own experience and your own words as a parent, grandparent, volunteer, leader, teacher or participant. Tell your own story. Use your own experience to describe what the 1% can accomplish in your community and in Canada.

Congratulate the Government on their promise to invest in physical activity, - but remind them that the investment is needed NOW!

We can remind the Minister that one of the most effective ways to reduce hospital wait times is to prevent people from getting sick in the first place – Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Talk about the most important investment in health being to get sedentary Canadians to be physically active.

We can remind the Minister that physical inactivity costs Canada $5.3 billion dollars annually.

We can let the Minister know that we are ready for Canada to become an active nation again. And about what it will take to get us there – the 1% investment.

Remind the Minister we have a plan for moving forward – The Pan Canadian Physical Activity Strategy.

Pick an approach that works for you. But whatever you do… send a message to the Finance Minister.


2. Integrated Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy
There continues to be great interest in the status of this Strategy announced in October 2005. CAL's Co-Chair, Nancy Dubois, also co-chairs the Coordinating Committee (now called the Healthy Living Issue Group) for this national strategy, approved by Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health in October 2005.
A bit of background: The strategy provides a conceptual framework for sustained action based on Healthy Living and envisions a healthy nation in which all Canadians experience the conditions that support the attainment of good health. The goals of the Strategy are:

  • to improve overall health outcomes, and

  • reduce health disparities.

Grounded in a population health approach, the initial emphasis is on healthy eating, physical activity, and their relationship to healthy weights. Included in the Strategy are pan-Canadian healthy living targets - which seek to obtain a 20% increase in the proportion of Canadians who are physically active, eat healthy and are at healthy body weights. While ambitious, these targets can be achieved through collaborative action and will serve to sustain momentum from the 10 percentage point, year 2010 physical activity target set by Ministers responsible and for Physical Activity, Recreation and Sport in 2003.

This intersectoral, national strategy is one part of the federal Integrated Strategy on Healthy Living and Chronic Disease .

There are several parts to the intersectoral Integrated Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy, including the Joint Consortium on School Health and the Intersectoral Healthy Living Network. Watch for upcoming efforts of the Network to identify physical activity and healthy eating projects that have potential for national dissemination.

CAL has been accepted to present an Oral Abstract at the upcoming International Union for Health Promotion and Education conference in Vancouver. We will be presenting "Influencing Policy and Population Health through the Pan-Canadian Physical Activity Strategy".


3. ParticipACTION launch

The official announcement of the "rejuvenated" ParticipACTION was made on February 19th, 2007 at Owen Public School in Toronto. Joined by students from the school, some members of the ParticipACTION board of directors, physical activity partners, and the media, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health and the Honourable Helena Guergis, Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport) announced $5 million in funding to support the renewal of ParticipACTION. According to the federal government, ParticipACTION, "through partnerships with media, business, labour, education, volunteer organizations, as well as physical activity and sport groups, will support the efforts of national and provincial/territorial governments in building momentum towards a more active and healthy Canada." While all Canadians will be the beneficiaries of the messages, there will be a specific focus on children and youth aged two to 12 and their parents and influencers, seniors, Aboriginal Canadians and Canadians with a disability.

The Coalition is very pleased that ParticipACTION has been funded and will play a significant role in public education – one of the strategies that is highlighted in the Pan Canadian Physical Activity Strategy. However, given that public education is only one piece of the physical activity puzzle, the Coalition will continue to advocate for investment in the others areas of the Strategy.

The Coalition has had an opportunity to meet several times with the Chair of the ParticipACTION Board of Directors, Mr. Charlie Pielsticker and looks forward to a collaborative relationship in the future.

Did you know…

The federal government, during the ParticipACTION announcement, launched their new website ?


4. Fireside chats
In partnership with CHNET-works! the Coalition has hosted two Fireside Chats in the past two months. The first was an introduction to and update on the work of the Coalition. The second one, which took place at the end of February, served as an opportunity to introduce the Business Plan created by the Coalition as a means to start discussion with government regarding future investment in physical activity. In both Chats, we had an opportunity to highlight some of the work we have been doing on behalf of the physical activity community, as well as hear from you and incorporate your insightful comments and suggestions for future work.

A third Fireside chat will take place on March 28th, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. We are very pleased to have Cora Craig from the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute (CFLRI) join us on this Chat to discuss their recently released CANPLAY data which suggests that the issue of child and youth physical inactivity in Canada is perhaps an even larger public health concern than previously believed. For more information and to register, go to and click on Fireside Chats. Note: registration is free.

Note: Participants join in via BOTH telephone (to hear the discussions) AND internet (to see the presentation).


5. CAL's Business Plan
CAL recently circulated an e-bulletin describing its business plan for physical activity in Canada and asking for member input. This document takes the Pan-Canadian Physical Activity Strategy to the next level of specificity by outlining 17 particular endeavours.

We Need Your Input
As members of the Coalition for Active Living, as well as stakeholders in the Physical Activity community, we need and value your feedback as we finalize the content of this document.

  1. Please review Investing in Prevention - A Business Plan to Increase Physical Activity in Canada by clicking here:

  2. Complete the Survey. The survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete, and will help further the development of a plan for physical activity in Canada. Feedback by Friday, March 16 would be much appreciated.


6. Mapping PA in Canada
The Coalition for Active Living (CAL) is conducting an analysis of the physical activity delivery system in Canada, including stakeholders, gaps, reach, value to Canadians with health disparities, opportunities for collaboration and recommendations for increased coordination. To identify these elements, along with the issues and opportunities, we would greatly appreciate your participation in an electronic survey. The report and recommendations resulting from the analysis will be shared publicly by CAL.

The survey is designed to be as quick (less than 10 minutes) and as unobtrusive as possible. Feedback by Friday, March 16 will be able to be incorporated into our analysis.

If you have received this newsletter from a colleague or through a secondary list serv, consider becoming a member of the Coalition for Active Living. Click here for more details


1. Influence the Federal Budget March 19

2. Integrated Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy

3. ParticipACTION launch

4. Fireside Chats

5. CAL's Business Plan

6. Mapping PA in Canada


Coalition for Active Living
Preliminary Notice
Friday, April 13, 2007
4:30 – 5:00 pm
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Further details to be sent to CAL members electronically.

The Healthy Living Issue Group reports to the Population and Public Health Expert Group, which is in turn, part of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network.

For more information, contact us at: