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health report

By Amy Fendley In the Sea to Sky Corridor, one in five children lives in poverty, according to new report. The 1998 Regional Profile on the health of the Coast Garibaldi region, focusing on children and youth, shows that overall the region’s youth are among the healthiest in the province. But the report states that further actions are needed if all children are to achieve the same high level of health enjoyed by the healthiest groups. One of the recommendations of the report is to ensure that all children receive quality care. "We should support families who want to look after their children at home by providing training in parenting skills and financial incentives," says the report. "And we should ensure that those who need child-care outside the home receive child care services that are high quality, accessible without financial barriers and accountable. "Just as children five years of age and older have universal access to education, so too should children under five have universal access to quality care and education." The report finds that there is a high level of people living in lower income single parent families, which could affect the long-term health of the community. The relationship between economics, education and the health status of children is currently being addressed, while local health councils and health services societies begin advocating for an increase in health status throughout the corridor. "We’re at the very beginning stage of talking about these issues and addressing them," said Geoffrey Rowlands, chief executive officer for the Coast Garibaldi Community Health Services Society, admitting that child poverty is not an issue that a single organization can deal with. "We’re talking to community health councils and the Ministry for Children and Families and are working in partnership with the appropriate parties to address some of the issues. "Traditionally when we think of health we think of doctors, nurses and hospitals," says Rowlands. "But child poverty can affect an individual’s health. Although health on a whole in Canada is high, there are pockets and this (child poverty) is one of them." Decisions leading to crime, teenage pregnancy, and high numbers of alcohol related offences are some of the factors Dr. Paul Martiquet, a medical health officer for Coast Garibaldi, considers need immediate recognition. "I believe all these factors are based on decisions and control not being taken advantage of. Later in life we pay the price, regardless of financial costs. Let’s look at the health of our children, put resources and emphasis on this so in the long run we have a healthier place for everyone." Children stricken by poverty traditionally lack self-esteem, confidence, self-control and the ability to make good decisions, as they lack a nurturing environment in which to develop at a reasonably high level. According to the provincial health officer, many factors can influence health including the physical environment, biological influences, individual behaviours, economic factors such as employment, and social factors such as the care of infants and children, education and literacy, housing and social supports.