A healthy lifestyle is becoming increasingly unavailable and unaffordable for young Canadians. This means that the ability for young Canadians to make healthy choices and foster belonging in their communities is significantly impacted. Nearly half of all Canadians say that it has become more difficult for them to afford healthy food options in the last year*. Adding to this, young people across Canada don’t perceive their mental health as good or excellent**, and nearly eight in ten Canadians ages 19-39 do not meet the 24-hour Movement Guidelines for healthy levels of physical activity***.

The YMCA believes that a healthy lifestyle should be accessible and affordable for all Canadians. Healthy people are conducive to a healthy country, and should be encouraged to make choices that benefit them in the long-term.

The Way Forward

To make sure we are taking the right steps forward, we have outlined the following policy goals that we believe will help Canadians lead healthy and active lifestyles.

  • Build new and update exciting social infrastructure, like YMCA Centres of Community, that promote health living.
  • Implement policies and programs that support healthy eating habits, such as front-of-package nutrition labelling.
  • Increase capacity for community organizations to provide programs and services that support positive mental health for young people.

Our Impact

YMCAs across Canada play a vital role in helping young people live healthy lives. YMCA Centres of Community bring together health, social, leadership, cultural, and recreational programs and services that foster a sense of belonging for all. We offer safe and inclusive spaces where young people can be themselves, build relationships, and lead healthy, active lifestyles. In 2017, over 600,000 young people (ages 13 to 29) participated in YMCA programs across Canada.


*Angus Reid, 2019 ** Statistics Canada, Perceived mental health, by age group *** Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)

Other Policy Areas

Child Care Housing Employment