Health of Canadians 2019

With described video



Dr. Theresa Tam:

Canadians, by and large, are healthy. Life expectancy in Canada is one of the highest in the world. Today, on average, a Canadian woman can expect to live to 84 years, and a man, to 80.

We are more educated than ever. And fewer of us are living below the poverty line. But that is not the whole picture.

My name is Theresa Tam and I am Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. Every year I publish a national snapshot of the health of Canadians. It describes our country’s promising health trends and pressing health priorities.

Nearly half of all Canadian adults live with at least one chronic health condition. Chronic diseases are the single greatest burden on Canada’s population. But, there is some good news.

According to recent data, Canadians are developing some of the most common chronic diseases less often. I think this is promising because a small decrease in chronic disease rates can make a big impact over time.

On the other hand, I have some concerns. Our national childhood vaccination rates have been stalled for almost a decade. If we continue to fall short on vaccination targets like this one, preventable diseases like measles could resurge. This would put our most vulnerable at risk.

Antibiotics are medicines that we rely on to save lives, but drug-resistant bacteria are already changing our health.

Text on screen: In 2018, 15 deaths a day were linked to drug-resistant infections (adapted from Canadian Council of Academies 2019).

Dr. Theresa Tam:

If we do not rapidly change the way we use antibiotics, we risk losing our ability to treat everyday infections or deliver essential and life-saving treatments like surgeries and chemotherapy.

Text on screen: More than 50% of all gonorrhea infections are resistant to at least 1 antibiotic. Drug resistant staph (MRSA) infections increased by 60% since 2012.

Dr. Theresa Tam:

At the same time, the rates of sexually transmitted infections are surging. Syphilis cases have almost tripled.

Substance use can be harmful. I am concerned that many Canadians are at risk, especially young people. Four out of five Canadian adults drink alcohol, and 1 of those 5 is a heavy drinker. More than half of Canadian teens say they drink.

And more teens are vaping, just as we’re learning of its serious and avoidable health effects.

Opioid-related deaths continue to be a particularly pressing concern. Last year, 12 Canadian adults died every single day. Street drugs are largely to blame.

Text on screen: 80% of accidental overdoses are due to toxic fentanyl.

Dr. Theresa Tam:

And for the first time in 4 decades, Canada’s life expectancy has plateaued for men and women. This is largely due to the sheer number, and young age, of opioid-related lives lost. This number could have been higher if not for the public health measures already put in place.

While Canadians, by and large, are healthy, certain groups experience poorer health than others, often due to factors beyond their control.

Text on screen: South Asian, African, Caribbean, Black Canadian adults are more than 2 times as likely to have diabetes than white adults.

Dr. Theresa Tam:

These differences are driven by unfair treatment in society, the economy, and through history.

Text on screen: Bisexual women and lesbians are almost 2 times more likely to be heavy drinkers than heterosexual women.

Dr. Theresa Tam:

So to change numbers like these, we must look beyond simply changing people’s behaviours, and change our institutions, our neighbourhoods and our society-at-large.

We must also pay increasing attention to the health threats of climate change. A changing climate may reveal new risks. Or magnify health challenges we already face.

And while different regions will face different challenges, we must work together to adapt. We all have a role in improving the health of Canadians.

By taking action on these priorities and others in my annual report, we can help all Canadians achieve their best health possible, now and in the future.

Text on screen: Addressing Stigma: Towards a More Inclusive Health System.  The Chief Public Health Officer’s Report of the State of Public Health in Canada 2019.

Text on screen: Public Health Agency of Canada.

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