Feb. 28 – Jane Philpott, MP Markham-Stouffville and Minister of Health gave a call-to-action to students in the ME to WE Leadership Program at Markham District High School.
Minister Philpott kicked off the two-way dialogue with the students by stating that politics and medicine foster the similar goals of making people want to feel healthy. She added that the social issues affecting people are what makes them healthy.
Stress, poverty, emotions, joblessness, and societal challenges contribute to the Social Determinacy of Health along with homes, education, and how someone is treated based on their gender, culture and sexual orientation.
Many of these factors are at play both here in Canada and in developing countries like Niger where Philpott observed grave inequities and hardship during her 9 years working there with Doctors Without Borders. There she realised that education was at the top of the list of social inequities and that without a strong educational system, nothing else can really work.
It was important to her to talk to students about the injustices in society and the need to build a world that is fair where everybody has access to the same opportunities:
“My hope is that these students will look out for the interests of other people and figure out who’s missing out and who’s lacking opportunity and that they’ll spend their energy and their talent to make the world more fair”.
After moving back to Stouffville from Niger, Philpott realised that, as a doctor, she couldn’t help people deal with all of the social issues affecting them but as a politician, she could. Today she has a huge responsibility to Canadians and tasked with making decisions that affects the lives of millions.
Minister Philpott reminded the young group of students that they are among the luckiest in the world who live in a fantastic place and have the best opportunities. They have teachers that are interested and parents who care; and she would know as 3 of her children attended the same school and went on to their own achievements.
She also shared that her journey to Niger made her realize how fortunate she was as a Canadian, providing one of the richest experiences of her life. She was able to learn about what really matters: to care about other people, to be generous and welcoming.
ME to WE fosters leadership development, promotes social justice awareness, and encourages young people to engage in both their local and global communities.
For information on ME to WE: www.metowe.com
Pictured: Shelley Whittaker (Me to We Staff Advisor), Minister Jane Philpott, Greg Morris (Me to We Staff Advisor)