Add healing-through-nature to hockey and Tim Hortons as Canadian gifts to world culture. Healthcare providers in four provinces—British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba—can now prescribe free national parks passes to patients as part of their health treatments.
The country’s new PaRx program, an initiative of the BC Parks Foundation, is designed to help people manage stress and anxiety. More than 6,000 licensed healthcare professionals have registered to prescribe nature to their patients.
With plans to expand to every province, the program aims to get people outside at least two hours a week. While the savings aren’t much (an annual Discovery Pass costs CAD$72), it’s more about improving health by getting people moving. Benefits touted by the program include increased energy, decreased anxiety, pain reduction, reduced stress and improved heart health.
“The pandemic has helped people rediscover the importance of being outside,” says PaRx director Dr. Melissa Lem, “and prescribers are seeing its evidence-based advantages.”