Government of Ontario

11/08/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/08/2019 10:19

Ontario Providing Veterans and Active Members of the Canadian Armed Forces Free Access to Ontario Parks

Ontario Providing Veterans and Active Members of the Canadian Armed Forces Free Access to Ontario Parks

Province committed to giving back to our service members

ST. THOMAS - Ontario is honouring past and present members of the Canadian Armed Forces by making it easier for them to spend more time in nature and green spaces at Ontario Parks.

Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, was at the St. Thomas Legion today to announce that Ontario is offering free weekday day-use entry to Ontario Parks for veterans and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces, residing in Ontario, as of November 11, 2019.

'Ontarians are grateful for the service of the brave heroes in uniform and of those heroes who have served our great country in the past,' said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. 'Providing veterans and active Canadian Armed Forces members free access to our beautiful provincial parks is a token of appreciation for the sacrifices they have made to protect the freedoms we have and the values we hold dear.'

'Ontario Command of The Royal Canadian Legion is pleased with this announcement by our provincial government! Nature and the great outdoors is most cherished by veterans and military members,' said Garry Pond, Ontario Provincial President of the Royal Canadian Legion. 'The Royal Canadian Legion has long been advocating for government to improve research, care and access to services and supports for Operational Stress Injuries. We thank the Ontario government for implementing this initiative. It's a step forward in helping de-stigmatize mental health in the military and this news should be well received by our veteran community.'

Spending time in nature and green spaces has a positive impact on our physical and mental health. It can lower the risk of heart attack by 50 per cent, reduce stress and the risk of mental health challenges and helps to combat chronic disease.

In September, the government launched a Healthy Parks Healthy People public consultation about how to ensure the health benefits of nature are fully realized for all Ontarians. Feedback from the consultation will help develop more effective programs, policies and partnerships to improve Ontarians' awareness and access to the health benefits of provincial parks and green spaces.

Making it easier for past and present service members to access Ontario Parks is one of several steps Ontario's Government for the People is taking during Remembrance week to show Ontario's appreciation for veterans, Canadian Armed Forces and their families.

  • Ontario manages and protects 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves totalling 9.8 million hectares or 9 per cent of the province.
  • Spending time in nature can lower the risk of heart attack by 50 per cent, reduce the risk of mental health challenges and help combat chronic disease.
  • The Healthy Parks Healthy People consultation will be open for comment until November 25, 2019.
  • Last week, the government announced the Ontario Military Families Relocation Hotline to make it easier for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families to access government services when relocating to the province.
  • Our support also includes providing all veterans and active Canadian Armed Forces members residing in Ontario with the ability to enjoy recreational fishing across the province without having to purchase a fishing licence.