Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

September 19, 2011 12:23 ET

Canada Signs UN Declaration on Preventing and Controlling Chronic Diseases

NEW YORK, USA--(Marketwire - Sept. 19, 2011) - Canada today endorsed a United Nations (UN) declaration as part of a global commitment to galvanize action against the growing threat of chronic diseases to world health and to national economies.

The UN High-level meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (also called chronic diseases) was convened to elevate the impacts of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory diseases onto the world stage.

"Chronic diseases are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide," said Canada's Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq. "Nations must take effective action to reduce their risk factors, which include tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and the harmful use of alcohol."

World Health Organization statistics say that chronic diseases currently kill 36 million people per year, 80% of which live in developing countries. By 2030, chronic diseases are expected to contribute to 75% of global deaths.

This number could be greatly reduced if people made healthier choices about tobacco use, what they eat, physical activity and use of alcohol. Eighty per cent of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, as well as 40% of cancers, are believed to be preventable.

"Chronic diseases are taking a toll on the health and wellbeing of Canadians, just like they do across the globe" added Minister Aglukkaq. "Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of chronic disease, and Canada is proud to sign today's UN declaration."

In Canada, three out of five Canadians older than 20 years of age have a chronic disease and four out of five people are at risk. The Government of Canada is working with the provinces and territories, the private sector, the research community, and civil society organizations to combat chronic disease.

The Federal/Provincial/Territorial Declaration on Prevention and Promotion endorsed by Canada's Health Ministers last fall makes prevention a priority and symbolizes the commitment to collaboration that is a cornerstone of Canada's approach to chronic disease prevention and control.

The Minister added that the government's continuing commitment to the improved health of Canadians is an investment in our country's economic growth.

In total, chronic diseases cost the Canadian economy at least $190 billion a year. Better health means improved productivity and workplace effectiveness.

Également offert en français




  • Every year, 67% of all deaths in Canada are caused by the four major chronic diseases of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases.
  • The Government of Canada's objectives in the prevention and control of chronic diseases are to:
    • Work with the provinces and territories, to promote health/healthy living, prevent diseases and injuries, and reduce health disparities among Canadians.
    • Encourage multi-sectoral action, that goes beyond the health sector, and include sectors such as transportation, agriculture and education to improve health and well-being.
    • Support research and the application of new knowledge to improve health outcomes.
    • Develop and share best practices nationally and internationally to contribute to global efforts to reduce chronic diseases and their impacts on society.

Major Government of Canada Chronic Disease Initiatives

F/P/T Collaboration

  • In November 2011, Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) Health Ministers will meet to follow up national stakeholder engagements related to the prevention of disease, disability and injury, and the promotion of health. This work was initiated in the fall of 2010 when F/P/T Health Ministers (except Quebec) endorsed A Declaration on Prevention and Promotion, as well as released Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights.
    • F/P/T governments have sought input from citizens, communities, industry and other stakeholders across the country about ways to reduce childhood overweight and obesity. The process has allowed Canadians across the country to connect with each other to share their ideas about how to promote healthy weights for children and youth.
  • In 2012, F/P/T Ministers from three different government sectors - Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation; Health/Healthy Living; and Education - are scheduled to meet to discuss collaborative, multi-sectoral actions that can support children and youth in increasing physical activity, making healthier food choices, improving social and emotional development, and academic success. They are focussing on the after-school period from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
  • At the annual conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health held in September 2010, the Health Ministers (except Quebec) adopted the interim goal of reducing the sodium intake of Canadians to a population average of 2,300 mg per day by 2016. In support of this effort, the Ministers called on the food industry to fast-track voluntary sodium reduction in food products, and to work with governments to increase education and awareness of consumers, industry, health professionals and other key stakeholders. The Ministers are encouraging Canadians to reduce their consumption to close to 1500 mg per day, the recommended daily intake for Canadians aged 9 to 50 years of age, and less for those younger and older.

Disease Strategies

  • The Canadian Diabetes Strategy is supporting collaboration and developing community models to raise awareness of diabetes and its risk factors. It invests $18 million per year to develop and share information, tools, and approaches to prevent diabetes and improve self-management of this condition.
    • In June 2011, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Canada announced the $33.9M large-scale effort to support clinical trials evaluating new treatments and technologies for type 1 diabetes in Canada. The JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (CCTN) brings together the country's top physicians, scientists, researchers and innovators from leading universities, hospitals and industry to accelerate the development of treatments and ultimately find a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications.
    • Created in partnership with the Government of Canada, funding for the JDRF CCTN came from a commitment of $20 million by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), with an additional $13.9 million contribution from JDRF.
  • In April 2011, the Prime Minister committed to provide $10 million over four years beginning in 2012-13 in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, provincial governments and other stakeholders to purchase defibrillators for recreational hockey arenas and training for attendants in using them as encouragement for active, healthy lifestyles.
  • In March 2011, a renewal of funding totalling $250 million over five years was committed to the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC). CPAC is implementing a coordinated, comprehensive approach to managing cancer in Canada, harnessing the strengths of Canada's federal system of government and province-based health care. CPAC is helping provinces and territories build their cancer care management systems from a foundation of national data and knowledge that is gathered from across Canada and shared by all. It will enable cancer experts, health professionals and individuals to manage cancer effectively and efficiently across Canada and in local communities.
  • Using the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan as a guide, Canada is addressing cardiovascular disease through investments in health promotion and disease prevention, ensuring access to a strong health care system, supporting vulnerable populations, and coordinating a solid research agenda. The Public Health Agency of Canada's $5.2 million per year for the Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Program tracks rates of CVD and its risk factors in Canada, supports programs to reduce high blood pressure, and supports efforts by Canadians to reduce sodium in their diets.
  • In 2009, the Lung Association launched the National Lung Framework, a stakeholder-led action plan, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, to improve the lung health of Canadians. This was followed in 2010 by an investment of $10 million over 3 years in the Lung Health Program to address specific information gaps identified in the National Lung Health Framework. This investment includes initiatives to increase awareness of prevention, early detection, and management of lung diseases, including potential risks from the environment, through public information products, with emphasis on high-risk populations, including children.
  • With one in five Canadians experiencing a serious mental illness in the course of their lifetime, the federal government is also concentrating on mental health as a priority. In 2007, the Government of Canada established the Mental Health Commission by providing $130M over 10 years with a mandate to facilitate the development of a national Mental Health Strategy; undertake an anti-stigma/anti-discrimination initiative; and create a national Knowledge Exchange Centre.
  • In 2008, the Government provided an additional $110M over 5 years to support research demonstration projects on mental health and homelessness. The Commission is planning to release the Mental Health Strategy for Canada in early 2012

Supporting Healthy Living

  • In Budget 2011, The Government committed to doubling the $500 physical activity tax credit - Healthy Living Tax Incentive - to $1,000 to help with the cost of every Canadian child in sport or recreation activities that offer health benefits. It also committed to the creation of an adult fitness tax credit.
  • In 2010, $6 million over two years was announced for ParticipACTION to enable the organization to promote more healthy lifestyles for Canadians through physical activity and fitness. This support highlights the inspirational work of Pierre Lavoie and his initiative, le Grand défi Pierre Lavoie, to promote healthy living and physical activity with school children across Canada.
  • Canada's Tobacco Control Strategy, including the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), has led to the Canadian success story in reduced cardiovascular and lung disease. Further, in 2009, Prime Minister Harper introduced The Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, which amends the Tobacco Act, to protect children and youth from tobacco industry marketing practices that encourage them to use tobacco products.
  • In May 2010, Canada welcomed the adoption of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol (GAS) by the World Health Assembly. Canada has implemented numerous international best-practices aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm, including interventions under each of the 10 recommended target areas within the GAS.
  • The Canadian Best Practices Portal provides evidence-based community prevention approaches to support the adoption of preventive programs and policies.
  • Each year through the Public Health Agency of Canada's Healthy Living Fund and Innovation Strategy, investments are made to test new approaches that are focused on helping Canadians adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles.
  • The Government of Canada invests approximately $2 billion annually in programs and services to improve the health of Aboriginal people. $730 million over five years (2010-2015) was recently committed to renew programs such as the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative and the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.
  • Giving children a healthy start in life prevents health problems as they mature. Federal programs include the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP), a community based initiative that helps vulnerable pregnant women including those living in poverty, pregnant teens and women living in isolation or with poor access to services. The CPNP First Nations and Inuit Component is also community based, providing support to First Nations women living on reserve and Inuit women. In addition, the Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) funds community based coalitions that establish programs and deliver services to meet the developmental needs of children under six living in conditions of risk. The Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) program is also community-based, providing early childhood development programming for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children (under six) and their families in urban and northern settings across Canada.
  • Over the last century, immunization has saved more lives than any other public health intervention. The Government of Canada has invested $600 million since 2004 to support five new vaccine programs across Canada. These investments are over and above the ongoing investments of $10 million every year to support the National Immunization Strategy.


  • Sustained government investments in health research in recent years have enabled Canada to capitalize on important health discoveries and advances in knowledge. Through these investments, Canada has secured a place on the global stage in such areas as HIV/AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory health, neurosciences, diabetes, infectious diseases and immunity.
  • The promotion of health and the reduction of the burden of chronic disease and mental illness is one of five overarching priorities of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada's health research funding agency with a total of investment of $327 million (2009-10) in the following:
    • Cancer - $159M
    • Diabetes - $36 M
    • Cardiovascular Disease: $95 M
    • Respiratory Health - $37 M
  • Canada's International Development Research Centre, or IDRC, recently launched a 3.5 million dollar, five-year program to fund research into cost-effective ways for developing-country governments to implement policies that reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases on their populations. IDRC's Non-communicable Disease Prevention program will focus on finding solutions for the major non-communicable disease risk factors: tobacco control research is their clear priority.
  • Grand Challenges Canada (IDRC, CIHR)
    • Canada is the first country in the world to adopt improving the health and well-being of people in developing countries by integrating scientific, technological, business and social innovation both in Canada and in the developing world.Grand Challenges Canada, a new not-for-profit global health organization funded at $225M over five years from Canada's foreign aid budget, is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people in developing countries by integrating scientific/technological, business and social innovation. Its focus is on bold ideas with big impact. Grand Challenges Canada works with the International Development Research Centre and Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Non-communicable diseases is one of five Grand Challenge themes they are currently addressing with a particular focus on hypertension implementation research (with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the International Development Research Centre and the Canadian Stroke Network) and improving treatment, increasing access, and tackling stigma in global mental health.

Contact Information

  • Health Canada
    Cailin Rodgers
    Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
    Federal Minister of Health
    (613) 957-0200

    Media Relations
    Public Health Agency of Canada
    (613) 941-8189