Survey: Canadian parents show strong support for physical and health education

Friday, March 1, 2013


Two-thirds of Canadian parents believe more time devoted to physical education would improve academic achievement


OTTAWA, ON - PGet Active reporthysical and Health Education Canada released a report today that details the results of a public opinion survey of Canadians and parents on issues of physical education, health education, and physical activity. The findings paints a picture of broad-based support for greater investment in physical and health education.

The survey was conducted between June 25th and 28th by Ipsos Reid. According to the findings, two-thirds (64 per cent) of Canadian parents believe more time devoted to physical education would lead to improvements in math, science, and reading/writing. A slightly larger percentage (67 per cent) believe that students should receive 150 minutes or more of physical education per week. This is equivalent to 30 minutes of physical education each day.

“Parents, and Canadians more generally, are recognizing that the benefits of raising healthy, physically active children spin out into other facets of their lives,” said Chris Jones, Executive Director and CEO of Physical and Health Education Canada. “It all starts in the school. By receiving quality physical and health education, students are equipped with the tools to make them healthy, resilient, and productive members of the community.”

The report, entitled Get Active: Perspectives of Canadians on the Importance of Physical Education, Health Education, and Physical Activity, details a number of aspects, including the perception of benefits that physical and health education confer on students. 93 per cent of Canadians agree that physical activity among children is essential for healthy growth and development, while 86 per cent agree that physical education helps to prevent overweight/obesity among children. In addition to the health benefits, 87 per cent of Canadians agree that physical education and activity help children to develop self-confidence and 77 per cent agree that children who are physically active tend to perform better academically.

“Physical education touches on many aspects of the growth of children and youth,” said Jacki Nylen, President of Physical and Health Education Canada, and a physical education teacher herself. “In my classes I see students gain confidence and feel a very strong sense of accomplishment as they master new skills. This positive attitude resonates throughout their school and community activity.”

In the News

PE should play bigger role: survey

Lethbridge Herald, 06 March 2013
The traditional "Three Rs" - reading, writing and 'rithmetic - may still be the pillars of the school curriculum, but a new report suggests physical and health education needs to play a greater role.

At least that's the view of Canadians, parents included, who took part in the survey conducted by Ipsos Reid. The findings were contained in a report released last week by Physical and Health Education Canada.


Survey says PE should play bigger role

Medicine Hat News, 08 March 2013


In all, 90 per cent of Canadian parents feel physical education and health education are important, while only 77 per cent are satisfied with the quality of the teaching. The difference points to a structural problem where for decades physical and health education has been prioritized less than math, language arts or the sciences.

“We’ve focussed so intently on a model of learning premised on the notion that the more time and the more information we throw at students the better they will perform on tests,” said Jones. “But children and youth are not programmable machines. If we want students to succeed academically we need to put in place the conditions that foster learning and healthy lifestyles, and this includes robust physical and health education programs taught by well-trained educators.”

The survey also explored Canadians' support for broader action on preventative health measures and found that more than four-in-five (85 per cent) Canadians agree that federal and provincial governments should devote a greater percentage of the health care budget to investing in preventative measures.

Other important findings include:

  • 67 per cent of Canadians agree that children who are physically active are less likely to get involved in crime or gangs
  • 71 per cent of Canadians agree that physically active children experience less social or emotional anxiety
  • 64 per cent of Canadians agree that active children are less likely to begin smoking or abuse drugs/alcohol
  • 86 per cent of Canadians feel that children in general do not get enough physical activity these days

A sample of 1,720 Canadians, including an oversample resulting in 497 Canadian parents with children ages 5 to 16, from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval.  In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 2.7 percentage points had all Canadians adults been polled, and within +/- 5 percentage points of all Canadian parents with children ages 5-16. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

Download the Report

Get Active: Perspectives of Canadians on the Importance of Physical Education, Health Education and Physical Activity

About Physical and Health Education Canada

Physical & Health Education Canada is the national voice for physical and health education.  Our members are predominantly educators working in the school system, the administrators who support them and the university professors engaged in pre-service teacher training and in research in physical and health education. We work with our members and other stakeholders to develop the resources, understanding, and networks to ensure that all children have the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to lead physically active and healthy lives, now and in their future.


Brandy Dewar
Communications Coordinator
Physical and Health Education Canada
613-523-1348 x240