Health a growing area of concern for Eastern Ontario – news/localnews
Dec. 3, 2011.   By Greg Peerenboom Gpeerenboom @ Standard-Freeholder.Com – Cornwall

A damning evaluation of Ontarians’ health is mirrored in eastern Ontario, says medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis.

That means that area residents are, in the words of Ontario chief medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King, “going in the wrong direction.”

Roumeliotis concurred.

“Our area has followed the same patterns (as rest of Ontario), and as always, more levels of chronic disease, smoking, obesity as compared to (the) Ontario average,” he said.

For the most part, locals can only blame themselves.

“All of (poor health factors) speak exactly to the social determinants of health,” Roumeliotis said, in an email Friday during a break from a meeting with King in Toronto.

On the flip side, he backed up King’s urging in her annual report, Health, Not Health Care — Changing the Conversation.

King is asking the government of Premier Dalton McGuinty to view all provincial programs and policy through a “health lense,” setting goals and targets for improved health, measuring health indicators like infant mortality rates and focusing more health care system resources on prevention.

This is necessary because 75% of what makes people healthy or ill is outside the jurisdiction of health and long-term care.

Financial experts have long warned that current healthcare spending is unsustainable and is already eating up almost 50% of the provincial budget.

Local MPP Jim McDonell said the government needs to look at ways at promoting healthy lifestyle choices by utilizing environments that are already being paid for.

“They could do it by changing the curriculum, by adding more more healthy activities in schools,” McDonell said.

When asked if this could cut into time devoted to academics, he said the government could encourage the development of extracurricular clubs during non-classroom time or after school.

McDonell is critical of eliminating snack-type foods in cafeterias, saying teenagers will just access these foods off-site.

When that happens, cafeterias lose revenue and could be forced to close.

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