Report documents off-reserve health
Facebook Twitter Email

Off-reserve Natives in Canada suffer from poor health, depression and chronic diseases at higher rates than their non-Native counterparts, according to the first study of its kind.

Aboriginals who responded to a survey were twice as likely to rate their health as merely "poor" or "fair" than the general population. They were also less likely to have seen a doctor or a nurse than non-Natives.

"Overall, Aboriginal people have poorer health than other Canadians," Statistics Canada reported yesterday.

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 60 percent of off-reserve Natives reported at least one chronic condition compared to 50 percent in the general population. The top diseases among Aboriginal were arthritis (27%), high blood pressure (15%) and diabetes (9%).

Natives also said they suffered from depression at nearly twice the rate of the general population. The survey found 13 percent had experienced a "major depressive episode."

Conditions that affect the health of Natives were defined in two areas: socio-economic and lifestyle choices. The poorer the person, the worse the problems, the survey found.

Tobacco use, alcohol use and an active physical life were also linked to chronic problems. For example, 51 percent were smokers, nearly twice the rate of the general population.

Culture also appears to play a role. In Canadian territories -- areas where subsistence and tradition continues to play a major role -- Natives and non-Natives generally reported the same levels of health.

Other disparities included:
Heavy drinking - 23 percent of Natives versus 16 percent non-Native
Obesity - 26 percent versus 13 percent
Income - 28 percent versus 10 percent

According to the survey, which was based on the years 2000 and 2001, 1.4 percent of the Canadian population lived off-reserve, either in rural or urban areas of the provinces. This amounted to an estimated 337,000 Natives.

Respondents self-identified themselves as Aboriginal, defined as North American Indian, Metis or Inuit.

Get the Study:
Health of the off-reserve Aboriginal population (8/27) | PDF: Health of the off-reserve Aboriginal population (8/27)

Relevant Links:
Statistics Canada -