The Toronto Board of Health established a subcommittee in 1986 to look at Public Health in the year 2000. The Subcommittee was called Healthy Toronto 2000.
The Board of Health, under the Chairmanship of Metro Councillor Jack Layton, a forward looking, energetic and socially conscious individual, with whom I have had the privilege of working on city housing issues, has recently published the result of its deliberations, a document well worth reading for anyone concerned about a high quality of life and health for the inhabitants of this city.
This report makes some remarkable statements well worth bringing to the attention of the kind of people you are who are met here today. First, the people on the subcommittee recognize, as Natural Hygienists do, that health promotion and disease prevention are better than cures. There are other statements with which you may want to take exception, for example, that social interventions for the common health are appropriate and may take precedence over individual concerns.
Those who fashioned the report also went on to proclaim what they believed were a recognized set of shared values, like a long life in good health for all; a clean, green, quiet and healthy environment; placing people above things.
Major improvements in community health, the report goes on to say, have been due primarily to such projects as ensuring clean water, proper waste disposal, wholesome and available food.
A new public health ethic is emerging, one which hopefully will encourage people to increase control over and improve their own health.
Toronto faces an enormous challenge in public health as its citizens approach the year 2000, just 12 years down the road of time. Not much distance to go. The population is aging, more than double the present number by the year 2000. Demands on day care will increase, and problems of the mental health of young people will continue to be a serious concern. (Alarming rates of drop-outs from school and teen suicides). For example, Toronto death rates were lower than those for the whole province except for suicide.
Then the report goes on to admit that too many young people suffer inadequate nutrition. Poor diet, says the report, will continue to contribute to ill health in the City. Smoking-related deaths among women are increasing, as are AIDS deaths among young men.
Again, the report tells us that despite increased emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention, medical costs will likely continue to escalate. Resource allocation will be increasingly controversial (in other
Healthy Toronto 2000 page 2
words, who is going to have first claim on those limited resources; don't depend upon getting medical attention when you most need it).
What we need is a wellness system that would encourage healthy lifestyles. The Department of Health cannot achieve the objective of a healthy citizenship alone. To succeed, we must all be involved.
What all this says is that groups, such as this one here today, have a vital, real and important role to play in the future of our community. All peoples will be the beneficiaries of what you are doing. All sectors of society should be grateful to you, governmental, educational, religious, and should be willing to assist you in promoting your cause, namely, better health through knowledge, understanding and discipline, so that more people may become aware of the knowledge you possess that can contribute to promoting health and preventing disease, thus avoiding the need to spend more and more of the public money for less and less return.
I congratulate you, especially Joe and Gladys Aaron, on the cause you are supporting and the work you are doing to educate the public about better health and for the example you yourselves are setting.
1. A talk given upon receiving an Honors Award at the Annual Banquet of the Canadian Natural Hygiene Society, Toronto Chapter, held at the Latvian Centre, Credit Union Drive and Eglinton East, Toronto, November 15, 1987