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Our health is not for sale

LETTER: For the week of Oct. 10
"Our health relies on the health of our ecosystem, so as a physiotherapist, advocating for a healthy planet is more important to patient health than anything I do in the clinic.". UNSPLASH

Consider this: $1 million in exchange for a part of your healthy body, let's say half a lung. You'll be paid over the course of your lifetime while sections of your lung are harvested each year until 50 per cent is removed.

If you're young when you sign the deal, you'll hardly notice the gradual impact on your overall health until middle age. At first, you might just notice that you're unable to keep up with your friends on weekend bike rides. Later, you might lose your breath just playing with your kids. In older age, supplementary oxygen tanks may become constant companions.

This is an extreme example that most Sea to Sky residents would answer with an emphatic "NO," no matter the price. We depend on our health in order to mountain bike or rock climb just as we depend on the mountains that make these activities possible.

[But] despite the high value we place on our health, decisions are being made all the time that sacrifice health for profits.

As a physiotherapist, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to maximize human health. My profession has realized that the injuries we treat are not as simple as we once thought. We have discovered that patients recover faster if we acknowledge the person connected to the sprained ankle we are treating.

As science continues to uncover the complex interactions between human health and our environment, we understand more and more that we are just as much a part of nature as the trees, birds, fish, rocks, water and air that we share our home with.

Our health relies on the health of our ecosystem, so as a physiotherapist, advocating for a healthy planet is more important to patient health than anything I do in the clinic.

Therefore, in the title of this letter: Our Health is Not For Sale, the word "our" includes not just humans, but all life forms that cohabit our planet.

It is unacceptable that fish in the sea share their home with a scourge of plastic waste simply because plastic is cheap and easy to produce. It is unacceptable that precious groundwater is being contaminated to liberate gas for profit. It is unacceptable that childhood asthma rates are increasing all over the world so that a select group of people can squeeze final profits out of a dying industry.

Unfortunately, many of our political leaders are still not grasping the gravity of the situation we are in and don't seem to care about our long-term health.

This is why we need to be even louder in voicing our opposition to projects like Woodfibre LNG and Trans Mountain [pipeline expansion project] and in voicing our support for a transition to a society that is sustainable and equitable for all.

The upcoming federal election offers an opportunity to voice these concerns.

Before you head to the polls on Oct. 21, take the time to learn which candidates value our long-term health and which value short-term profit at the cost of our health. Now, more than ever, we must come together to make our government understand that our health is not for sale!

Tyson Bell // Founder, Physiotherapists Uniting for Climate Action