Doctors in Canada can now prescribe a trip to the national park - National Tree Day Blog

Doctors in Canada can now prescribe a trip to the national park

Canadian doctors can now prescribe patients with a pass to the country’s national parks system in a bid to improve their mental and physical health.

Parks Canada, the agency that manages the country’s 38 national parks and ten national park reserves, is collaborating with Canada's national nature prescription program PaRx, to allow registered healthcare professionals to provide a free annual pass to patients.  

The pass would usually cost $72 CAD ($79.20 AUD) per adult for a year of unlimited access to national parks, but this initiative would allow some doctors to prescribe them for free. 

PaRx, or A Prescription for Nature, is Canada’s first national nature prescription program. The aim is to break down the barriers to access the outdoors and get patients into nature for a minimum of two hours per week. The program works with doctors in British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. 

The PaRx program was recently recognized by the World Health Organization in its COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, as a way to improve patient and planetary health.

PaRx Director Dr. Melissa Lem, is a Vancouver family physician who launched PaRx in 2020 with the BC Parks Foundation.

“Research shows that children and adults who are more connected to nature are not only more likely to work to conserve it, but also engage in other pro-environmental behaviours,” Dr. Lem explained to the National Parks Traveller. “I like to think that every time one of my colleagues writes a nature prescription, we’re making the planet healthier, too.”

The PaRx program is aiming to be nationwide by the end of 2022 and has already signed up over 1,000 prescribers. 

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

Jennifer McMillan

Jen worked as a vet nurse while studying environmental science and completing her master's degree in Journalism. She loves bushwalking, storytelling, caring for baby animals, Australian birds and river red gums. Jen works on the National Tree Day and National Recycling Week campaigns.