Healthy Parks, Healthy People
We are incredibly fortunate to have large and beautiful green spaces across Dufferin-Caledon. For example, Belfountain Provincial Park in Caledon and Mono Cliffs Provincial Park in Dufferin provide the opportunity to get outside with family and friends—especially during autumn as trees change their colours. Across the province, there are hundreds of parks, hiking trails and public spaces to explore.
Studies show that spending time in nature and green space has a positive impact on our health and well-being. Some examples of the positive link between nature and our health include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and a faster recovery from surgery or illness. The benefits of nature on our health go beyond the physical. Time in nature can reduce our stress levels and mental fatigue, as well as increase our mood, self-esteem, and attention span.
Canadians are not spending as much time in nature as we used to. On average, Canadians spend 69 per cent of our waking hours sitting down, and over 90 per cent of our time indoors—more than any other point in history. This means that we are not getting the full range of health benefits that come from spending time outdoors. For our youngest generation especially, play-time in nature is an essential part of healthy development.
That is why, as part of our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to help protect and preserve our environment, we identified the promotion of parks and increased recreational opportunities as a key pillar necessary for a healthy environment and healthy people. This importance is also identified in the Healthy Parks, Healthy People movement, which is a worldwide effort to promote the linkages between nature and human health.
One way we are following through on this commitment is by launching a public consultation about how to ensure the health benefits of nature are fully realized for all Ontarians. We want to hear from you about how we can improve Ontario Parks programs, policies and partnerships to connect more people with the health benefits of nature. Feedback from the consultation will help develop programs that are more effective, policies and partnerships to improve Ontarians’ awareness and access to the health benefits of provincial parks and green spaces.
From now until November 25, submit your input and engage in the conversation through our online survey. Minister Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks, will be reporting back on what he hears in spring of 2020.
I strongly encourage you to read our entire Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, which also outlines our government’s plan to help protect our air, land, and water; address litter and reduce waste; reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions; and address the impacts of climate change. To find out more regarding our environment plan, visit Ontario.ca/environmentplan or call my office at 1-800-265-1603.