Why give?


It’s new. It’s free. And it could change your life.

Enrollment in Heart & Stroke Activate is complete for this year, but we have good news - the program is expanding across the GTA in January 2019! Contact us if you’re interested in receiving updates or joining Activate next year.

What to expect

Activate your journey to healthy aging in three easy steps:

1. Book your in-person appointment with an Activate volunteer

Our trained volunteers will walk you through the program, ensure that you qualify, and enroll you in Activate.

2. Set goals and get ongoing support from the experts

Stay on track with your personal health coach, get moving with YMCA personal trainers and learn how to eat better with Loblaws Dietitians.

3. Get rewarded and see results 

Make healthy lifestyle choices and earn up to 40,000 PC OPTIMUM points. See how far you’ve come at your six-month follow up appointment.

Program benefits

Make small changes now to enjoy the big moments later. Benefit from everything our free six-month wellness program has to offer: 

  • PC OPTIMUM points (up to 40,000 )

    PC OPTIMUM points (up to 40,000 )

  • Two-month YMCA membership

    Two-month YMCA membership

  • Personal health coach

    Personal health coach

  • Loblaws grocery tours with dietitians

    Loblaws grocery tours with dietitians

  • Online health platform

    Online health platform

  • Activate community

    Activate community

Eligibility criteria

In order to take part in the Activate program, participants: 

  1. Are over 40 years old

  2. Do not have diabetes

  3. Are not on blood pressure medication

  4. Have blood pressure between 121-139 systolic (the top number)


Q How will Activate help me live healthier?
Engaging in healthier behaviours such as eating healthier, moving more and stopping smoking are important ingredients to aging well and to overall health. 

In fact, research shows that up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by adopting healthy behaviours.

But making healthy changes can be tough. We get that. That is why we have designed a program to help you on your journey towards healthy aging. Activate provides you with the education, support, motivation and rewards with the goal of helping you make small healthy behaviour changes that stick.  
Q Why is having a blood pressure between 121-139 a qualifier to join Activate?

Blood Pressure Ranges
Normal blood pressure: 120 / 80
Elevated blood pressure: 121-139 / 80 – 89 (Activate is designed for people in this range)
High blood pressure: 140+ / 90

Elevated blood pressure is the range of blood pressure between what is clearly normal and what is definitely high. If your blood pressure is between 121 – 139 systolic (top number) and 80-90 diastolic (bottom number) it is elevated.

1 in 5 Canadians have elevated blood pressure. Research shows that 50% of adults over the age of 60 who have elevated blood pressure are likely to progress to having high blood pressure within four years. High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart failure, heart attack, kidney disease, and even kidney failure. It has also been linked to dementia.

Activate is designed for individuals who have elevated blood pressure. The program helps people make small changes to help prevent the onset of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is defined as equal to or greater than 140 systolic (top number) / 90 diastolic (bottom number). If you are in this range, you are considered to be high risk and we recommend you visit your physician as soon as possible. Learn more managing your blood pressure.

Q Is this program really free?

Yes, Activate is completely free!


Heart & Stroke is proud to be working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to launch Activate. It is funded through Canada’s first health-related pay-for-success  model (PFS), also known as a social impact bond. 


PFSs are innovative public-private financial partnerships that represent a powerful new way to raise funds from the private sector for public good. What this means is that you don’t pay to participate in the program!

Q How do I qualify?

In order to qualify, you must be over the age of 40, non-diabetic, not taking high blood pressure medication, and have a blood pressure between 121-139 systolic (the top number).


Activate enrollment appointment starts with our volunteer measuring your blood pressure to see if you qualify.


If Activate isn’t right for you, then we hope you recommend Activate to your family and friends. You can also stay in touch and receive Activate updates.


If you have high blood pressure or other risk factors, we recommend you visit your physician as soon as possible. Also check out the Heart and Stroke Risk Assessment  and other Heart and Stroke information resources. 

Q How do I enroll in Activate? What happens at my appointment? How should I prepare for my appointment?

It’s easy to enroll in Activate!


1.  Book your free in-person appointment with a Heart & Stroke nurse volunteer.

2. Meet your Heart & Stroke nurse volunteer who will measure your blood pressure to confirm eligibility. 

3. If you qualify, your nurse volunteer will teach you more about Activate benefits and features, create your online account and walk you through the online health platform, and help you complete an online health questionnaire. 

Your appointment will take between 30-40 minutes. To prepare, it’s best to:


1. Bring your own smartphone or tablet (with email access) so we can help you complete enrollment.  

2. Bring your PC OPTIMUM points card so you can start collecting points right away.

3. Avoid intense exercise, smoking, and coffee 30 minutes before your appointment as you will be getting your blood pressure measured.

Q What is the online health platform? Who provides health coaching and how does it work? 

Heart & Stroke has selected NexJ Health and University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) to deliver the services of program design, coaching, and technology. Activate builds off of an existing intervention delivered by both parties.


The interactive online health platform is powered by NexJ Connected Wellness and provides expert advice/health content, trackers, and community forums.


You’ll receive digital coaching from NexJ Health and University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) and you may also receive additional telephone support. You will be assigned one coach to support you throughout the program, who will help you:


1. Review your health related goals.


2. Discuss your progress based on your tracking (physical activity, diet, etc.).


3. Action plan to overcome anticipated barriers. Coaches have a background in health and managing health risks (specifically diet, exercise, smoking cessation and stress management).


Health coaches are accredited healthcare providers such as kinesiologists, nurses, dietitians, or physiotherapist so they are very qualified to help support improving healthy behaviour. They will be supervised by a clinical team of experts and have regular checkpoints with Heart & Stroke.

Q Activate works with the YMCA, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Loblaws. What parts of the program do these partners provide?

Activate is designed to bring expertise from select partners together with Heart & Stroke in meeting your goals.


 YMCA provides all Activate participants with a free two month health and fitness membership and exclusive access to Activate Group Fitness Classes led by YMCA personal trainers.


With regards to Shoppers Drug Mart/Loblaws, your free in-person appointment will take place at select Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws locations in Mississauga and North York with a Heart & Stroke nurse volunteers. You’ll also be rewarded for healthy behavior with PC OPTIMUM points! Activate participants will also have access to Loblaws educational grocery store tours led by a Loblaws dietitian. 

Q How do I start using my YMCA membership? What happens after my free two months? What if I’m already a YMCA member?

When you enroll in Activate, you will receive a package that includes your free two month YMCA card. Simply bring this card to your Mississauga or North York YMCA location  and present it to the front desk. They’ll be happy to register you in their system and take you for a tour. 


There is no obligation or fee associated with your two month YMCA membership. 


After your free two months, we encourage you to continue on your journey to exercising more and connecting with others in your community. Each YMCA Health & Fitness centre is unique, just like the communities they serve, so visit your centre's page for details on the packages and prices offered there.


If you sign up for Activate and are an existing Y member, you will receive a free pedometer OR an Activate t-shirt which can be picked up at the Mississauga or North York YMCA location.


Existing Y members are not eligible for two month free YMCA memberships but will have access to Activate Group Fitness Classes offered to participants.

Q How do the rewards work? What if I don’t have a PC OPTIMUM Points card? How do my Points convert?

Simply enter your PC OPTIMUM number into the Activate online platform and start earning reward points by engaging in Activate.


Points will be rewarded through the online platform as you engage in healthy behaviours such as reading health content, completing questionnaires, tracking your behaviour (e.g. entering your steps) and reaching your personal wellness goals. 


Each point rewarded on the Activate online platform is equal to one PC OPTIMUM point. You can earn up to 40,000 PC OPTIMUM points over the course of the program! 

Points earned through Activate will be automatically uploaded to your PC OPTIMUM account monthly. In the Activate platform, you can click on the points total on your main profile page to see a real time, detailed breakdown of how many points you have earned to date. 

If your points are not being added to your account please contact by email at

If you do not have a PC OPTIMUM card but collect PC or Optimum points, we will ask you to get your new card in-store and create your account at

There is no obligation to be a PC OPTIMUM member in order to be part of Activate. However, we recommend you join the PC OPTIMUM program so you can take advantage of the reward points offered as part of the program.

PC OPTIMUM points are the only rewards points awarded by Activate at this point in time. 

If you are not a PC OPTIMUM member at the time you join Activate, you will continue to earn points by engaging with the program. These points will be rewarded to your account retroactively once you join the PC OPTIMUM program and enter your PC OPTIMUM card number into the Activate platform

Q Who can see my information? Is it safe? 

We’re asking for a lot of information from you. That’s why we’ve partnered with NexJ Health, a leading digital technology company that has designed a platform specifically and purposely to protect Personal Health Information. Find out more about their privacy and security safeguards.


The information you provide during the program will be kept secured and strictly confidential.  Your name and personal contact details will never be made public nor will they be used to identify you in any program report.


 Access to your identifying information (name, age and gender) will be limited to you and your University of Ottawa Heart Institute or NexJ health coach. At all other times, your information will be presented by a unique ID that anonymizes you. 


In order to redeem the PC OPTIMUM points you may earn during the program, Shoppers Drug Marts will see the number of points you will have earned. However, they will not have access to the personal information you provide through this program.


The results of the program will be audited by an independent organization, the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC), to validate the attainment of the program  against its pay-for-success goals. SRDC will have access to a limited set of program data, which will be presented by a unique ID so as to anonymize any personal health information.

Q I’m a healthcare professional and am interested in being involved in the Activate program or volunteering. How can I get involved?  

Contact us at

Have more questions? We have answers! 

Meet our partners and sponsors

Working with: 

Public Health Agency of Canada | Agence de la santé du CanadaMaRS logo

Supported by:

Shoppers Drug Mart logo    YMCA logo   Nex J - Health   Logo for University of Ottawa Heart Institute   

Additional thanks to:

SRDC Social Research and Demonstration Corporation | Socieé de rechereche sociale appliquée          Computershare logo           BRIDGEABLE LOGOMiller Thomson Avocats | Lawyers


Chief Advisor: David Jones, MD, MHSc
Behavioural Incentives: Marc Mitchell, PhD


Guy M. Beaudin
Ian Cockwell and Andrew Cockwell 

Catherine Donnelly Foundation logo  The J.W McConnell Family Foundation La Fa Fondation de la Famille J.W. McConnell  Max Bell Foundation    Mindset Foundation


QBE logo    RBC blue logo    Telus ventures logo

Please note that individual results may vary. This program may not be for everyone and is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should check with your doctor before you start any exercise program or before engaging in more vigorous physical activity. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.