Health Canada


About the Organization:

The Fitness and Amateur Sport Act (1961) established the federal government’s formal and long-term commitment to fitness and health for all Canadians. The responsibilities for fitness are assigned to the Minister of Health.

The mandate is to promote physical activity among Canadians in order to improve their health and well-being. The mandate is legislated, since a federal role “…to encourage, promote and develop fitness…” has existed since passage of the Fitness and Amateur Sport Act in 1961. The Minister of Health has the federal responsibility for fitness under the Act. The mandate is unique to Health Canada but the broader task is shared with provinces/territories, municipalities, the voluntary and private sectors, and individual Canadians. The department’s approach involves working in partnership with the provinces/territories, the voluntary and private sectors, and concentrating its own activities on selected higher-level functions which are mutually agreed to be appropriate federal roles.

Health Canada’s roles in fitness/active living include: Strategic and policy leadership:

Lead national consultations in order to build consensus on future directions and undertake collaborative action to encourage fitness and active living in Canada;
Recommend policy options for the Government of Canada to address the active living needs of Canadians;
Establish partnerships with other federal departments to undertake action to achieve mutual goals;
Coordinate federal involvement in joint initiatives with provincial/territorial ministries responsible for fitness and recreation;
Collaborate with other countries on joint initiatives related to fitness and active living.
Knowledge Development and Information Dissemination:
Undertake and encourage research and surveys in order to monitor changes in physical activity levels, determinants and barriers to being physically active, and the benefits and impact of physical activity on the health and well-being of Canadians;
Communicate and disseminate information on the benefits and opportunities to be physically active, and the level and type of physical activity recommended to offer health benefits.
Partnerships and Alliances:
Establish partnerships with national non-government organizations and the private sector in order to integrate fitness/active living approaches into their activities;
Promoting and Encouraging Active Living:
Encouraging the development of environments and opportunities which support Canadians to be physically active.
Integrating Active Living into Departmental Initiatives concerned with children and youth, early and mid-adulthood, and later life.


To encourage and assist all Canadians to adopt active living through enhanced awareness about the benefits and opportunities of being physically active.
To influence the provision of positive social and physical environments and opportunities that facilitate the integration of physical activity into daily life, and that are accessible to, and equitable for, all Canadians.
To establish partnerships with other agencies across levels and sectors and encourage collaborative action for active living in Canada.

Contact Info:

Resources on Aging and Physical Activity:

Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living for Older Adults
The Guide serves as a roadmap explaining why physical activity is important for older adults and offering tips on successful physical activity.

Canada’s Physical Activity Guide
This website contains activity guides for different age groups, summer activities, and a guide for active living at the workplace.

Stairway to Health
An interactive resource designed to increase physical activity in the workplace through taking the stairs rather than the elevator.

Active Living at Work
Outlines the benefits of being active in the workplace and provides a template for practitioners to use in developing a business case for active living in their own organizations.

National Initiatives Supported by The Physical Activity of Health Canada

1) Development of a national non-profit umbrella association called the Active Living Coalition for Older Adults (ALCOA), comprised of 23 national and provincial organizations, with a mandate to provide coordination and leadership in the addressing the physical activity needs of older adults est. 1995);

2) Moving Through the Years: A Blueprint For Action for Active Living and Older Adults launched (1999). This Blueprint and its ensuing initiatives closely parallel those of the National Blueprint Strategy currently being undertaken by Blueprint partners in the United States;

3) Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living for Older Adults launched nationally (1999); The Guide is endorsed by over 55 national organizations committed to its promotion and distribution. Both the Guide and Blueprint are distributed, free of charge, through a national toll-free 1-888 #;

4) National Planning Summit (hosted by ALCOA) to identify specific strategies and priorities to advance implementation of Blueprint goals and promotion of Guide (1999);

5) Sharing Research in Plain Language (2 issues/year); This publication (produced by ALCOA) provides research information on specific topics that is relevant, useful and understandable to health providers and older adults. To date, topics have included Type II Diabetes & Walking using a Pedometer, and Strength Training for Older Adults;

6) Development of a Speakers’ Bureau (by ALCOA), consisting of a national network of peer presenters trained to promote and communicate the use of the Blueprint and Physical Activity Guide for Older Adults, at the community level (2001 and ongoing);

7) National Forum on Active Living and Older Adults, intended to facilitate information sharing, networking, partnerships and new linkages,identify and discuss key active living issues, and generate further action (1999, 2002, 2004);

8) Self-analysis instrument for program providers, (Fondation en adaption motrice) – a tool to guide development of quality physical activity programs for older adults (currently in development);

9) National Guidelines for Leaders of Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults working in communities, homecare programs or long term care facilities (Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, currently in development).