Health is a beautiful thing. And almost anyone can be healthy.
Some, through no fault of their own, are not healthy. The rest of us have the recipe: Good nutrition, vigorous exercise, eight to nine hours sleep. Repeat. Keep that up and in six months you’ll defy gravity.
Some people, though, just don’t get it. Take the B.C. Healthy Living Alliance, a network of almost every health organization in the province. In a well-meaning brief to government, the alliance has issued 45 recommendations to improve the overall health of British Columbians.
Recommendations such as phasing in universal child care, raising the minimum wage, raising welfare rates so people can afford fresh food, appointing a minister in charge of reducing poverty, etc., etc.
It is a remarkable document, and so far beyond the capacity for the provincial — or any — government to adopt. You just know it will spend the rest of its life on the shelf.
You can hear the arguments of its advocates now: This report, called Healthy Futures for B.C.
Families, sets the goals, and so what if the goals are ambitious? Maybe if the goalposts are high enough we’ll get some of this done. What’s the alternative? Ignore poverty, illiteracy, disease, mental illness, addiction, malnutrition, isolation and prejudice?
No. Just don’t try to generate heaven on Earth and call it Healthy Futures for B.C. Families.
By turning health into a virtually unattainable social agenda, we are condemning thousands of people to powerlessness and victim-hood. We are putting health out of reach.
Health may be tough to maintain, but good nutrition and exercise are no more expensive than bad nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle.
I know. I’ve tried both. Once I was 80 pounds overweight, smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish. Now, like Forrest Gump, I run. I did calisthenics. I ate cheese and tomato sandwiches. It sounds ridiculous now, but my little initiatives got me started on a life-long commitment to health. And it cost nothing. Nothing but a commitment to change.
This report infuriates despite its good intentions. If B.C.’s health organizations really want people to be healthy, why ask government to appoint another minister? Like Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, who took the hoof-and-mouth disease prize earlier this week when she defended cuts to sports programs in schools by recommending that kids could get healthy by “doing more walking or dancing or playing in parks”?
B.C.’s health organizations have to realize we can’t expect government to take care of us. They’ll send us MacDiarmid instead.