TORONTO, ON. (May 14, 2014) – A new report released today entitled Improving Health by Design in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) revealed that improvements in the ways communities are designed and integrate public transportation would result in the prevention of over 300 premature deaths and over 1,000 cases of diabetes each year across the GTHA. The report is the result of an important collaboration by the medical officers of health for Toronto, Peel, Simcoe Muskoka and Hamilton.
“We are calling on all governments to take a more active role in ensuring that both existing and new communities are planned to make the health of their residents a top priority,” said Dr. David Mowat, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel and spokesperson for the collective of medical officers of health. “While improvements are occurring in community design, considering the rate of population growth, chronic disease trends and the pace of change in land use and transportation planning, it is clear that more needs to be done. We have built our communities around the automobile and this approach poses a serious risk to public health.”
The four medical officers of health have developed three key recommendations for policy makers and municipal and provincial leaders on the design of healthy communities:
- invest in public transit;
- strengthen provincial policies that support transit and “active” transportation; and
- make transit and active transportation planning integral to city planning.
These recommendations provide a template for action that will help improve human health.
“Active transportation - walking and cycling, as well as using public transit - allows our residents to build non-recreational physical activity into each day. These actions not only improve health by increasing activity, but also decrease air pollution that leads to premature deaths, heart disease and respiratory conditions,” continued Dr. Mowat.
Obesity and physical inactivity already costs the GTHA $4 billion a year and traffic-related air pollution is responsible for over 850 premature deaths annually. In the next 20 years, the population of the GTHA is projected to grow by another 2.2 million people. The report calls for leadership in city and transit planning to ensure communities that encourage healthy lifestyles are built.
The four medical officers of health who collaborated on this project are: Dr. David Mowat, Peel; Dr. David McKeown, Toronto; Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka and; Dr. Ninh Tran, Hamilton.
More information and a full copy of the report is available at peelregion.ca/MOHreport.
The Region of Peel serves more than 1.3 million people and approximately 88,000 businesses in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the town of Caledon. Call the Region of Peel at 905-799-7700 or visit peelregion.ca/health for more information.