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A Blueprint for Better Breathing

Mar 16, 2015

Ontario Lung Association Releases Framework for Lung Health Action Plan

Toronto, ON – Of the four chronic diseases responsible for four in five deaths in Ontario – cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes – lung disease is the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy, this despite the ever-increasing human and economic burden of respiratory illness in this province.

Bill 41, Lung Health Act, which was introduced and passed second reading in the Ontario legislature in November last year, calls for the establishment of a Lung Health Advisory Council and the development of a Lung Health Action Plan that will provide a coordinated approach to how lung disease is prevented and treated in our province.

Today, the Ontario Lung Association released the summary report of a consultation workshop where 65 stakeholders laid the foundation for a comprehensive made-in-Ontario action plan for better lung health. The workshop brought together patients and patient advocacy groups, medical and other health professionals and their associations, as well as representatives of government, non-governmental organizations, and pharmaceutical and other private sector organizations.

Among the report’s recommended priority actions: better access to smoking cessation tools, lung function testing and pulmonary rehabilitation programs; a formal lung cancer screening program for high-risk individuals; expanded access to, and use of, spirometry testing for early disease diagnosis; and enhanced research and surveillance efforts.

It was the latest step in a process that began more than a year ago when the Ontario Lung Association, building on the foundation of the National Lung Health Framework and informed by relevant provincial strategies and plans, released a draft Lung Health Action Plan and circulated it to hundreds of stakeholders for comment. Based on their feedback, a second version was developed last May.

“Thanks to the passion and hard work of the workshop participants and their commitment to advancing the lung health agenda, we now have the blueprint for a coordinated approach that will prevent lung disease, improve patient outcomes and save health-care dollars,” said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association.

“The outcomes of the consultation workshop, including its recommended ‘priority actions’, provide an excellent foundation for the work of the Lung Health Advisory Council proposed under Bill 41,” said Habib.

The campaign for a coordinated lung health action plan grew out of the Ontario Lung  Association report Your Lungs Your Life, which found that lung disease hit the Ontario economy with about $4 billion in direct and indirect costs in 2011. That is expected to grow to $27 billion in 2015 and to almost $77 billion in 2021.

“The Lung Health Action Plan proposed in Bill 41 offers a coordinated approach based on evidence-based interventions to fight lung disease and improve respiratory health in our province,” said Dr. John Granton, chair of the Ontario Lung Association. “The 2.4 million Ontarians who live with chronic respiratory disease, and the millions more who love and care for them, deserve nothing less.”


Family physicians working with other health-care professionals play a critical role in preventing and managing lung disease. By formalizing and strengthening this inter-disciplinary approach, an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan will mean better patient outcomes and more effective and efficient use of scarce resources. Cathy Faulds, President, Ontario College of Family Physicians

A lung health action plan will allow us to intervene earlier with coordinated preventative strategies, invest more funds into researching alternative treatments and possibly cures, and manage the rapidly increasing incidence of lung disease among the elderly. Jennifer Olajos-Clow, Chair, Ontario Respiratory Care Society

Whether it’s major diseases such as asthma and COPD or rare disorders like pulmonary hypertension, lung disease in Ontario does not get the attention it deserves. A coordinated and inclusive Lung Health Action Plan is the only way we will drive progress towards better breathing for all Ontarians. Ruth Dolan, Director, Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada

Ontario’s pharmacists are ready and willing to play their part in this ambitious action plan for achieving better lung health in the province.  Building on the success of the pharmacy-based smoking cessation program by enabling pharmacists to provide support to all Ontarians who are ready to quit smoking would be an excellent first step.  Dennis Darby, CEO, Ontario Pharmacists Association

With the passage of Bill 41, Ontarians will benefit from evidence-based interventions that will allow early detection and better management of chronic obstructive lung disease in adults, better access to smoking cessation tools, and enhanced strategies for managing asthma – the most common chronic disease in Ontario’s children, and a common reason for hospitalization in both children and adults living in our province. Thomas Kovesi, Chair, Ontario Thoracic Society

With more than two million people in Ontario who smoke, more than half of whom want to quit, we need to make smoking cessation a priority. An Ontario Lung Health Action Plan should expand access to scientifically proven therapies as well as counselling to all Ontarians to help them quit.

Jane Ling, President, Central East Association for Smoking Elimination (CEASE)

About the Ontario Lung Association
The Lung Association is a registered charity that assists, educates and empowers individuals living with or caring for others with lung disease. The Lung Association provides programs and services to patients and health-care providers, invests in lung research and campaigns for improved policies on lung health. Information about lung health issues is available through the Lung Health Information Line 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or at info@on.lung.ca.


John Chenery 416-864-9911 ext. 292 | jchenery@on.lung.ca