Community & Current Events

3 New Year's resolutions for Canada

By: Jill Buchner

Photo courtesy of ThinkStock Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photo courtesy of ThinkStock

Community & Current Events

3 New Year's resolutions for Canada

By: Jill Buchner

1. The Arctic is melting
In Northern Canada, climate change is taking its toll. When Arctic ice reached its peak last winter, it was the fifth lowest peak in 35 years. That followed summer 2012's shocking sea ice dip, the lowest minimum ever. Many scientists are predicting ice-free summers in just a couple of decades. And in 2013, a team from the University of Hawaii at Manoa analyzed piles of climate data and concluded that, by 2047, the world will have warmed so much that temperatures will no longer fall within a normal range.

The resolution: Carbon and the burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of Arctic melt. One of the easiest ways to cut your carbon contribution? Change the way you commute. In 2014 walk, bike, ride transit or carpool to work. You might even save money and lose weight! Figure out how much carbon you can cut at transportation.stanford.edu/cost.  

2. Kids aren't playing
Obesity rates are on the move, likely because our kids aren't. Statistics Canada reports that, from 1992 to 2005, boys' participation in sports dropped from 66 percent to 56 percent, and those who do participate are involved in fewer activities. Meanwhile, girls ages 11 to 14 are less likely to play sports than before. Even Canada's most prized sport is suffering: A 2013 Hockey Canada study found 90 percent of families didn't put their children in hockey. Meanwhile, kids who are active have more confidence, improved social skills and, of course, better health.

The resolution: Encourage your kids to get involved in a range of activities. Research has shown that children who specialize in one sport early are more likely to lose interest. If they've got a mix of activities to enjoy—say, soccer, hockey and swimming—they're less likely to drop out altogether.

3. We're getting buried in debt
In the second quarter of last year, Canadians' household debt climbed to a new high. For every dollar we earn, we now owe $1.63. In fact, debt levels are rising so high that, in a poll, 14 percent of Canadians predicted they will never be able to pay off their debt. Our spending splurges are leaving us with lifelong debt hangovers—and the whole nation is paying the price.

The resolution: Make a payment plan. When it comes to eliminating debt, you need a realistic goal, says Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada Debt Solutions. Review your budget to determine what you can afford each month, then stick to it. “Check your progress every month to ensure you are on track. And most importantly, recognize your successes."

Progress by province
Canadians from coast to coast made progress on many pressing issues in the past few years. Find out how your province fared.

In recent years, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador banned the use of cosmetic pesticides, and Manitoba is working on introducing a ban later this year. But many provinces still allow harmful chemicals to be used on lawns. The problem? According to the Ontario College of Family Physicians, pesticides are linked to cancers, neurological diseases and more.

What do Saskatoon, Sherbrooke, QC, and Moncton, NB, have in common? According to the report “Population Health in Canada's Largest Cities," these municipalities have the lowest levels of secondhand smoke in the country. Meanwhile, Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa are some of the smokiest. Secondhand smoke is a risk factor for cancer, causing more than 1,100 deaths in Canada each year. In 2013, Calgary made the call to ban butts in playgrounds and sports fields. And Toronto might follow suit by prohibiting smoking on patios, beaches and fields.

If you live in the Yukon, chances are your roads are fairly safe from distracted drivers. The province issues a $250 fine and three demerit points to motorists caught using a phone while driving. But in Ontario, where police say texting while driving causes more deaths than impaired driving, there's a mere $155 fine. Now that the Ontario Court of Appeals has declared it illegal to drive while holding a cellphone, the province may be on the road to safer driving.

Check out what resolution Rick Mercer has for Canada
                                               
This story was originally titled "Resolutions for the Nation" in the January 2014 issue.
           
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3 New Year's resolutions for Canada

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