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BOX K - What are health disparities? Print E-mail

Ontario Public Health PractionersAlthough Canadians are among the healthiest people in the world, some groups of Canadians are not as healthy as others because of the differential impact of various determinants of health. Factors, including Aboriginal heritage, gender, geography, educational attainment and income can all lead to the unequal opportunities that are linked to lower health status.

The consequences of health disparities are more pronounced in the poorest 20 per cent of Canadians and in Aboriginal communities. However, health disparities are not just a have-not issue. All Canadians are affected by differences in risk factors, risk conditions, health status, incidence of disease and mortality, depending on their socio-economic status.

Because they are severely sick or injured more often, people in the lowest income groups use more health care — approximately twice as many health-care services as those in the top 20 per cent of income earners. It’s estimated 20 per cent of total health care spending in Canada is attributable to income disparities. (Health Disparities Task Group, 2005).

Last Updated on Monday, 01 June 2009 08:15