VISION 2020 CANADA CALLS FOR NATIONAL VISION HEALTH STRATEGY

TORONTO, April 15 /CNW/ - With the stage set for another Federal election and Canadians headed towards the polls in May, VISION 2020 Canada is urging party leaders to put a national vision health strategy back on the agenda.

"The need for a national, strategic and coordinated approach to vision health in Canada is long-overdue," said John M. Rafferty, chair of Vision2020 Canada. "We urge party leaders to deliver on their past commitments and make vision health a key priority in this coming election."

In 2003, the government of Canada made a commitment to the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a national vision plan by 2005 and begin implementing the plan within the next two years. In 2007, the then Conservative Government of Canada renewed this commitment to WHO.

While countries as diverse as Australia, India, the UK and Sri Lanka all have plans in place and are reaping the benefits of a coordinated approach to vision health and rehabilitation, to date, no such plan exists for Canada. Meanwhile, more than 262,000 Canadians have developed blindness or partial sight.

The socio-economic impact of vision loss is far reaching and includes social isolation, high unemployment rates and poverty. *In fact, only 35 per cent of working-age Canadians with vision loss are employed and more than half all adults who are blind or partially sighted earn $20,000 a year or less. The annual price tag associated with blindness and partial sight in Canada is an astounding $15.8 billion.

About Vision 2020 Canada
Vision 2020 Canada is part of a global coalition that seeks to eliminate avoidable blindness and vision loss by the year 2020. We are a network of organizations focused on fostering greater collaboration and education among organizations and governments in Canada and around the world on key issues related to vision loss.

For more information on Vision 2020, please visit http://www.vision2020.org

SOURCE CNIB

For further information:

Melita Vega
Manager, Marketing & Communications
CNIB
T: (416) 486-2500 ext. 7715
E: melita.vega@cnib.ca

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