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Indigenous health in Canada - Statistics & Facts

The indigenous peoples of Canada are sometimes referred to as Native or Aboriginal Canadians, and consist of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. These people account for roughly five percent of the population of Canada and the life quality of these indigenous peoples differs in many ways to the non-indigenous population. Indigenous peoples experience lower levels of education and income, higher rates of unemployment and incarnation, and poorer health, among other such disparities. In 2017, around 47 percent of Aboriginals self-reported their general health as being excellent or very good, while 21 percent reported their health as fair or poor.

Common health conditions and causes of death

Some common long-term health conditions among Aboriginals in Canada are arthritis, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and high blood pressure. In 2017, an estimated 200,590 Aboriginals reported that they suffered from arthritis, while 175,200 had high blood pressure. When looking at the data for the leading causes of death for First Nations people compared to the non-indigenous population, there are clear disparities. The leading causes of death for both First Nations people and the non-indigenous population are cancer and heart disease, however First Nations people are much more likely to die from assault, suicide, unintentional injuries, chronic liver disease, and diabetes than their non-indigenous counterparts.

Mental health

As survey from 2017 found that around 84 percent of Aboriginal people in Canada rated their mental health as excellent, very good, or good, while 16 percent said their mental health was just fair or poor. Rates of poor mental health were higher among younger Aboriginals with about 24 percent of those aged 15 to 24 stating they suffered from a long-term anxiety disorder, compared to just 13.5 percent of those aged 25 to 34 years. As mentioned above, rates of suicide are higher among the indigenous population, but even within this group there are large differences. For example, the suicide rate for Métis people from 2011 to 2016 was almost 15 per 100,000 person-years at risk, compared to a rate of 72 per 100,000 among the Inuit population. During this period, the suicide rate for non-indigenous people was just eight per 100,000 person-years at risk.

Health care treatment

As of 2017, almost 80 percent of Aboriginals in Canada had a regular medical doctor, with the most common reason for not having one being that the individual did not try to contact one. Around 88 percent of First Nations adults with diabetes are receiving treatment for their condition and 86 percent of those with high blood pressure are being treated. However, rates of treatment are much lower for mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and mood disoders and this is especially true among youth. From 2015 to 2016, only 35 percent of First Nations youth who had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder were receiving treatment.


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