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Poll indicates children's health may become platform issue in provincial election

Today, BC Healthy Living Alliance is releasing results from their Health Priorities Survey which shows that 80% of residents in the Interior are very concerned about the impact of physical activity on children’s health – followed by nutrition (64%) and poverty (60%).

Scott McDonald, Chair of the BC Healthy Living Alliance, said: “We know that 60% of children are not active enough today and the poll shows British Columbians recognize this as a health issue. Not surprisingly, in the Interior there is also strong support for investments to make it easier to walk and bike, which can dramatically increase daily physical activity in children and adults.

“People vote based on the issues they feel strongly about and we want the parties and candidates to know that British Columbians care about making BC healthier for kids.”

Residents living in the Thompson, Okanagan and Kootenays showed higher levels of support for investments to increase quality childcare (87%), active transportation infrastructure (86%), affordable rental housing (76%), a poverty reduction plan (71%) and community-based mental health services (70%).

The survey shows that mental health has emerged as an important health priority in BC. “The public clearly sees the need for more community-based mental health care but there is also strong support for longer-term prevention measures such as quality childcare and poverty reduction, both of which are protective factors for mental wellness,” said Mary Collins, Director of BCHLA.

“We were encouraged to see it’s not just young families that see the value in childcare. Support is relatively consistent across age groups, family status and income levels, with most wanting government to develop a universal childcare system with low fees.”

Respondents identified the expense of healthy foods as the biggest barrier to eating nutritionally– a challenge that is especially problematic for young people, those in poor health and those with low incomes.

Seventy percent want government to ensure that children in public schools have access to healthy food through breakfast and lunch programs.

BC Healthy Living Alliance commissioned this public opinion research to measure public support for the health recommendations outlined in their #MakeBCHealthier4Kids policy guide.

Sentis Research completed the 2017 BC Health Priorities Poll on behalf of BCHLA in March, 2017.  On the total sample of 1,241, the results are accurate to within +3%, while for the topic areas (n=823-828), the results are accurate to within +4% (all at the standard 95% level of confidence, or 19 times out of 20). The sample was weighted by gender and age within each region of the province to reflect the actual population of BC adult residents.