2020: BCAHL Reflections & Accomplishments

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This past year has certainly been unlike any other. From physically distancing in public spaces, spending more time at home, and modifying our day-to-day according to health orders, we’ve all adjusted our daily lives in response to the pandemic. While COVID-19 has highlighted systemic gaps in our society, we are also presented with the opportunity to analyze, understand and fill those gaps with investments and policies to reduce health inequities.

BCAHL has taken great strides in adapting and moving towards our health goals in light of the pandemic. We’ve advocated for chronic disease prevention measures, non-profit sector survival, and financial and food security. We’ve been pleased to see the implementation of strong vaping regulations provincially, and are excited to start a new research project on active transportation in small towns. BCAHL is also delighted to announce the launch of our newsletter and podcast series, The Balance, and we’re elated with the work done within our Physical Activity for Health Collaborative.

As we reflect on the past year, BCAHL is proud of our accomplishments. The pandemic pushed us to continue advocating for chronic disease prevention policies and launch some important projects that will serve to further enhance healthy living for all British Columbians.

Covid-19 Priorities

Chronic Disease, Smoking & Vaping: The Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control report that Canadians with pre-existing chronic diseases and a history of smoking are more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19. That said, between 40% and 80% of chronic disease is preventable. BCAHL has met with both Members of Parliament and  Provincial M.L.As to urge them to continue efforts to reduce the rate of smoking and vaping in Canada. We’ve advocated for increased taxation and action at the federal level to reduce flavours, ban online marketing and sales, and replace vapour packaging with plain ones with health warnings.

Non-Profit Sector Survival: Non-profits are crucial to community health, as well as our economy, as non-profits contribute $6.4B to BC’s GDP. That said, non-profits are facing major financial constraints amidst COVID-19. BCAHL advocated for an emergency stabilization fund for essential operations during the pandemic and to help non-profits survive post-crises. We also pushed for charities to have the same recovery programs that businesses do at every step of the pandemic.

Financial Security & Food Security: Income security is a strong predictor of health outcomes. In BC, we see that those with the lowest income have twice the risk for heart disease and diabetes. We advocated for public policies that responded to COVID-19 to consider and ensure health equity, and for targeted measures to protect the health of populations that have been disadvantaged and marginalized to ensure they do not experience increased risk of COVID-19 or further hardships.

Vaping Regulations

BCAHL members were grateful that the BC Government responded to our concerns about the youth vaping epidemic with new and robust regulations to prevent and discourage youth from vaping. The new regulations include higher taxes, restrictions on sales and advertising, limits on nicotine content, and plain packaging.

Tobacco tax rates increased to 30 cents per unit, and vaping products are now taxed at 20% PST. Since the spring, vapour pods and liquids were limited to 20mg of nicotine per millilitre, and were restricted to plain packaging with health warnings. Vape companies are restricted from advertising their products in public spaces where young people gather.

Small Town Leaders in Active Transportation

BCAHL started a new research project focusing on active transportation within small towns. We’ve convened an advisory committee to identify active transportation indicators, reviewed literature to collect promising practices. BCAHL recently distributed a survey on active transportation within small towns to communities with populations between 1,000 to 30,000 peoples.

The survey will uncover factors that help and hinder active transportation and will allow BCAHL to understand how to improve and support infrastructure to get small towns moving. Next year we will be sharing our findings and recommendations through a report, workshops, and webinars to progress active transportation throughout the province.

BCAHL Communications Channels

BCAHL is excited to announce the launch of our newsletter, podcast series (The Balance) and our Instagram and LinkedIn social media channels! The introduction and integration of our new and various communications channels will strengthen our organizational advocacy platform through amplified messaging. 

Our newsletter features our advocacy and policy work; alliance members’ news and campaigns; blog articles on research, community engagement and practices; and webinar events highlighting leaders in health promotion. To subscribe, click here.

The Balance podcast series features guests that specialize in all aspects of healthy living. The Balance has launched with an episode on active transportation, vaping impacts on youth, and how COVID-19 is affecting families in the province. You can find The Balance on Apple, Spotify, and SoundCloud.

Physical Activity for Health Collaborative

BCAHL is thrilled with the engagement and initiatives we’re seeing from all our members at the Physical Activity for Health Collaborative. Even in spite of COVID-19, we’ve managed to pivot priorities to look at emerging issues. Earlier this year the Collaborative created a Research Advisory Working Group to address the research needs of the pandemic, and deliver key information to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The EverybodyMoves Resource Hub is a project of the Collaborative that will launch in early 2021. The website provides resources to help front-line staff, programmers, trainers, and organizational leaders make physical activity more accessible and inclusive. Stay updated about our upcoming launch through our newsletter and on social media channels with the hashtag #EverybodyMoves.

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