Health at a glance

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April 2011 

Today, Statistics Canada launches a new online publication called Health at a Glance. This publication, which will be released on an occasional basis, will consist of short informative analytical reports on health-related topics intended for a general audience.

The inaugural article, released today, is titled "Disparities in life expectancy at birth." It compares life expectancy in Canada to that in other countries, and examines developments in life expectancy over time, regional differences and factors behind these differences.

Life expectancy at birth in Canada has improved considerably since the early 20th Century. For women, it increased from 60.6 years in 1920-1922 to 83.0 years in 2005-2007, the most recent period for which there are data available. For men, it rose from 58.8 to 78.3.

For the past 50 years, life expectancy at birth in Canada has ranked in the top 10 among the 34 country members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

However, there are important regional differences within Canada.

Health regions with the lowest life expectancy tend to have the highest rates of smoking, obesity and heavy drinking. They also have higher long-term unemployment rates, lower levels of education, small immigrant populations and relatively large Aboriginal populations. They are also situated in rural or remote locations.

In addition to regional differences, life expectancy tends to vary based on neighbourhood income. Generally, lower neighbourhood income is associated with lower life expectancy.

The article, "Disparities in life expectancy at birth" in today's inaugural edition of Health at a Glance, Vol. 1, no. 1 (82-624-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications. For more information about this article, contact Lawson Greenberg (613-951-1559; lawson.greenberg@statcan.gc.ca).

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-1746; hd-ds@statcan.gc.ca), Health Statistics Division.