TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Canada's parks ministers have committed to work together to creatively and collaboratively inspire Canadians to experience nature through parks in ways that support their health and well-being.
The action was prompted by the first-ever comprehensive evidence-based report in Canada that chronicles the many proven benefits of spending time in nature.
Developed by the Canadian Parks Council, Connecting Canadians with Nature: An investment in the well-being of our Citizens pulls together an increasing body of research that demonstrates the immense benefits of connecting with the natural world. The benefits are broken down into six key areas:
- the economy;
- physical and mental health;
- spirit and cultural identity;
- personal development;
- the welfare of communities; and
- the environment.
In a joint statement released at the Meeting of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for Parks, with the exception of Quebec*, held in Toronto, Canada's park leaders committed to innovate, diversify and adapt the country's park offerings to meet the changing needs of families, and to work with various sectors of Canadian society - municipalities, school teachers, health practitioners, business leaders, community builders, tourism operators - to support experiences in nature that enhance Canadians' collective health, prosperity, growth and productivity.
During the meeting, the ministers further agreed to collaborate in developing a passport to parks, to build on existing digital tools that make it easier for Canadians to visit their parks and share best practices to expand programs such as learn-to-camp activities in more jurisdictions.
- Within a generation, Canada has transitioned from a rural to an urban nation, with 80% of Canadians now living in cities. Canadians today spend on average 90% of their time indoors, with increasingly sedentary lifestyles that are contributing to a variety of chronic health issues.
- From lowering blood pressure, to reducing stress levels, to supporting children's cognitive development, nature has the profound ability to support both our physical and mental health.
- Green spaces also support job growth and economic prosperity and build stronger communities by creating outdoor tourism and recreation opportunities.
- The meeting was co-chaired by Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada and Dr. Richard Starke, Alberta's Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation, and hosted by David Orazietti, Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources.
"Canada is fortunate to have a rich array of parks that are recognized for supporting our overall well-being, and for providing direct benefits to communities through job creation, recreation and tourism opportunities. Our Government is committed to working with our partners to find ways to encourage and support Canadian families to connect with nature from coast to coast to coast."
Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
"Our parks are an incredible resource that holds the potential to benefit Canadians physically, mentally, socially and economically. To fully realize that potential, it's essential we work together to inspire more Canadians to get outside, explore our parks and connect with the wonders of our natural world."
Dr. Richard Starke, Alberta's Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation
"I'm pleased that Ontario was able to host this conference highlighting the beauty and importance of Canada's parks. Ontario continues to connect Canadians with nature through programs such as Learn to Camp and through the Ontario Children's Outdoor Charter, the first charter of its kind in Canada to help children discover the wonders of nature. We look forward to working with our partners to enhance opportunities for the public to enjoy Ontario's provincial parks."
David Orazietti, Ontario's Minister of Natural Resource
"Canada's extraordinary system of parks, the oldest in the world, offers some of the best places to experience all of nature's powerful benefits, but we cannot work alone. The Canadian Parks Council is ready to join forces with others, to create new opportunities that will help maximize the many benefits of personally experiencing nature."
Dawn Carr, Executive Director, Canadian Parks Council
- Connecting Canadians with Nature: An investment in the well-being of our Citizens (http://www.parks-parcs.ca/english/cpc/publications.php)
- Parks ministers' statement (http://www.scics.gc.ca/)
- Backgrounder: Connecting Canadians to Nature through Parks (http://www.scics.gc.ca/)
- Canadian Parks Council (http://www.parks-parcs.ca/)
- Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat (http://www.scics.gc.ca/)
*The Quebec Government does not subscribe to the "Connecting Canadians with Nature" initiative. One of the initiative's main objectives, which consists of improving public health and wellness through outdoor recreation activities and thereby supporting decreased health costs, falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec, particularly in regards to health promotion. However, Quebec will participate in the exchange of information regarding, among others, best practices in park management and promotion.
About the Canadian Parks Council
Since 1962, federal provincial and territorial governments have collaborated through the Canadian Parks Council (CPC) to promote excellence in parks and protected areas management, to advance park and protected area values and interests, and to encourage cooperation and mutual support among member agencies.
SOURCE: Parks Canada
For further information:
Office of the Minister of the Environment
Alberta Tourism, Parks, and Recreation
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Canadian Parks Council
Dawn Carr, Executive Director
(705) 806-0391 / 888-502-1737