Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Alberta Health Reform - "Action 3"

Continues ... Action 3.
Action 3: Get serious about wellness and injury prevention
The best thing we can do to improve the health of Albertans and drive down spiralling health care costs is to encourage people to stay healthy. That means individual Albertans have to take responsibility for their own health. And it means government, health regions, and other partners have to step up their efforts to create one of the healthiest populations in the world.

September 2005 Recognize employers who promote healthy workplaces. Special awards will recognize employers for their initiatives to promote health in the workplace.
This is good, in theory. I think there is the possibility for abuse like JobsOntario was in Ontario, where the Bob Rae NDP government gave grants to companies for creating jobs. Employers were hiring left, right, and centre - not usually for meaningful work, and not usually for long. I think when I was a university co-op student, I was a JobsOntario grant. It will be interesting to see how they manage this.
October 2005 Announce second phase of Healthy U campaign
Phase 2 will build on the media campaign, website, Community Choosewell Challenge program, and other Healthy U initiatives and add a special focus on healthy eating and physical activity for young children.
This is an existing campaign - again, I'm not familiar with Phase 1.
Fall 2005 Legislate the use of booster seats for children
We’ve learned to buckle up and put babies in car seats, now it’s time to protect children by using booster seats.
Fall 2005 Step up public information and involve other ministries and agencies in promoting injury prevention
Every household will receive information about their health care costs and what people can do to stay healthy.

Fall 2005 Tackle HIV, Hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases
A new strategy will be launched to prevent and reduce the spread of these diseases.

Fall 2005 Launch a study on incentives to stay healthy
Would tax incentives or other kinds of benefits encourage people to stay healthy? What are the pros and cons? We’ll address those questions through a comprehensive study.
Legislate booster seat use. Interesting, I like it. I'd be curious to see the stats on injuries as a result of children not sitting up properly in cars.

Incentives for staying healthy? Thoughts:
  • I would think removing sales tax on healthy food alternatives would be good - but I think Alberta's PST is at 0%. For low income families this is a good thing, as most high nutritious foods, like fruit and vegetables, tend to be the most expensive. Maybe some kind of "reverse tax" at the cash register. 2% for healthy foods, 4% for healthy foods grown in Alberta and/or Canada.
  • A tax receipt for a gym membership? Not at a chain gym, like GoodLife or Bally's - too expensive, and not everybody can take advantage. But, what about a tax reduction if you get a gym membership at a community centre gym?
  • More realistic might be a tax deduction for swimming lessons, skating lessons, community sports - soccer, baseball, etc.?
  • Increased sin taxes, on cigarettes and alcohol? Never popular, but easily justifiable. I'm not a smoker, but I like alcohol - but I know it's not growing hair on my head.
That one is going to be interesting.
In 2006 Announce a new immunization strategy
All children should have access to routine childhood immunizations. The new strategy will make sure they do.
January 2006 Proclaim the Smoke Free Places Act
The new Smoke Free Places Act will be officially proclaimed and in force across the province.
Yes. I think this should be made national. If there's one thing I'd like to see is a ban on smoking in and around children and non-smokers.

Action 4, coming soon.

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