Health Promotion in the Modern Era: 1974 and Beyond - Page Banner

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Letter In 1974, Federal Health Minister Marc Lalonde published A New Perspective on the Health of Canadians. The report brought new, holistic ideas to the promotion of healthy living. It suggested that health “resulted from the interplay of biology, environment, lifestyle, and the system of health care,” and is “intimately tied to overall conditions of living,” such as income and education levels, and the environment.

The report recommended an aggressive use of social marketing techniques. The promotion of healthy living would be loud, clear, and unequivocal—change your lifestyle today to live a healthier and longer life.

After the Lalonde report, health promotion became an awareness-raising activity aimed at increasing personal and community responsibility for engaging in healthy behaviours.

"Warning: Unpasteurized Milk Can Be Dangerous . . ." flyer, 1986

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"Warning: Unpasteurized Milk Can Be
Dangerous . . ." flyer, 1986
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-0J28
Archives of Ontario, I0040079

Healthy Eating in Action Volume 1, Number 1, Spring 1995 issue, 1995

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Healthy Eating in Action Volume 1, Number 1, Spring 1995 issue, 1995
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-1565
Archives of Ontario, I0040067


Our Environment – Our Health pamphlet, 1993

In 1975, Ontario’s first Health Promotion Branch was established. Health education at every level of government became a priority. Many reports and resolutions were published in the 1980s and 1990s, contributing to Ontarian’s understanding of the importance of healthy living. 

Our Environment – Our Health pamphlet, 1993
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-1565
Archives of Ontario, I0040080

The AIDS crisis and the SARS scare of 2003 presented their own challenges.

AIDS in the '90s, The New Facts of Life pamphlet, 1989

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AIDS in the ’90s, The New Facts of Life
pamphlet, 1989
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-1565
Archives of Ontario, I0040066

Karate Kids advertisement, 1991

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Karate Kids advertisement, 1991
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-0J28
Archives of Ontario, I0040076


Many Ontarians living today can remember some of the large-scale health_promotion campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s. Television spots for Murphy the Molar encouraged children to brush regularly and take good care of their teeth. ParticipACTION, a federal-government initiative, encouraged school kids to become more physically active (the program was relaunched in 2006). And provincial mass-media campaigns, like the anti-drug Hole-in-the-Fence initiative, and the Dialogue on Drinking, were widespread.

Murphy the Molar Television Commercial
Reference Code: RG 10-13-0-3
Archives of Ontario


In November 1986, the first international conference on health promotion was held in Ottawa. This conference produced the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, a document that set the course for health promotion over the next two decades in Ontario, Canada, and around the world.

Health Spell flyer, 1988

Health Spell flyer, 1988
Ministry of Health publications and films
RG 10-13 1995-0J28
Archives of Ontario, I0040073

Eat Sensibly folder, 1988

Eat Sensibly folder, 1988
Ministry of Health publications and films
RG 10-13 1995-0J28
Archives of Ontario, I0040074

The Charter’s objective was ambitious: “to achieve health for all by the year 2000 and beyond.” It promoted the idea of health as a positive concept that governments and individuals needed to work together toward, through progressive policy initiatives and personal effort. It was an all-encompassing view that promoted good health as the basis of social progress. That same year, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health . . . . Health is, therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living.  Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. Therefore, health promotion goes beyond healthy life-styles to well-being.

In 1987, three reports published in Ontario set the province on its new health_promotion course. Toward a Shared Direction for Health in Ontario, Health for all Ontario, and Health Promotion Matters in Ontario all articulated a common vision of what would improve the quality of health for Ontarians. They wanted to increase the growing emphasis on the promotion of healthy living and disease prevention, and support Ontarian’s healthy lifestyle choices, like restricting smoking and making healthful good choices. In 1991, The Premier’s Council on Health Strategy continued the focus on health promotion with its report, Nurturing Health, A Framework on the Determinants of Health.

Pamphlet: Mental Health and Patients’ Rights pamphlet, 1989

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Mental Health and Patients’ Rights pamphlet, 1989
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-0528
Archives of Ontario, I0040055

Image of 1983 pamphlet, Should You Smoke During Pregnancy?

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Should You Smoke During Pregnancy? pamphlet, 1983
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-0528
Archives of Ontario, I0040070

Image of Project Smoke/less, Courtesy, Consideration stand, 1986

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Project Smoke/less, Courtesy, Consideration stand, 1986
Ministry of Health publications and films
Reference Code: RG 10-13 1995-0528
Archives of Ontario, I0040078

Cover: "Health is a great feeling!" booklet

“Health is a great feeling! ” booklet [cover]
Project files of the Community Development
Unit of the Ministry of Health
Reference Code: RG 10-361
Archives of Ontario, I0040205

Cover: "Healthy Places Healthy People – Sudbury, June, 1992" booklet

“Healthy Places Healthy People – Sudbury,
June, 1992” booklet [cover]
Project files of the Community Development
Unit of the Ministry of Health
Reference Code: RG 10-361
Archives of Ontario, I0040207

In June 2005, The Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion was created. The Ministry delivers programs that promote healthy choices and healthy lifestyles, and facilitates access to information and programs from other ministries. In 2007, the Ministry developed five programs to help Ontarians achieve good health: Smoke-Free Ontario, Healthy Eating and Active Living, ACTIVE2010, Injury Prevention, and Health Promotion. You can find out about the Ministry at http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca.

What you need to know and what you can
do about West Nile virus
, 2003
Reference Code: Govt Doc He Misc Box 11 no 4
Archives of Ontario, I0040255

Cover: What you need to know and what you can do about West Nile Virus

Cover: What you should know about a flu pandemic, 2006

Today, the promotion of healthy living in Ontario is a coordinated, multi-faceted effort. Decades of work and innovation mean that Ontarians have access to a wide range of materials and information on how to achieve a healthy life.

What you should know about a flu pandemic, 2006
Reference Code: Govt Doc He Misc Box 12 no 8
Archives of Ontario, I0040252

Inside Page: What you should know about a flu pandemic, 2006

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What you should know about a flu pandemic, 2006
Reference Code: Govt Doc He Misc Box 12 no 8
Archives of Ontario, I0040253


Cover: Introducing Telehealth Ontario, 2001

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Introducing Telehealth Ontario, 2001
Reference Code: PAMPH 2001 #2
Archives of Ontario, I0040259


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Sanitation, public hygiene, and the fight against disease: 1882 to 1921
Public health nurses: bringing health home
Living longer, living healthier: health education in the curative age, 1921 to 1947
Mass marketing and social change: the postwar era | Health promotion in the modern era: 1974 and beyond
The promotion of healthy living in Ontario: timeline