Time to Improve Indigenous Health
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
A Whitepaper on the Health Status of Canada's First Nations
As of October 29, 2018
Table of Contents
It’s Time to Improve Indigenous Health
The health and wellbeing of the Indigenous peoples of Canada have often been pushed to the backburner. Their recent cries for help have begun raising awareness to the issues that take place inside remote reservations across Canada. Primary studies report mainly from Atlantic Canada though many include Newfoundland regions as well.
In these locations it is difficult to acquire, and maintain, medical supplies. With support, these locations (and others) can have up-to-date software, easier access to medical centers and stationed health care experts. Supplies will support medical personnel by diagnosing and monitoring illnesses or diseases, tracking prescriptions and recording appointments.
Ease of access and more locations will allow persons to obtain diagnoses quickly and efficiently and prevent potential deaths. Having health care experts in these areas will reduce wait times, size of waiting lists and increase overall health.
Indigenous people will be able to obtain higher socioeconomic status if Canada increases their physical and mental health as well as provide further opportunities for higher education. These will contribute to the overall economy in Canada.
Why This is Important
Every single person in Canada has the right to live in a healthy environment and have easy access to medical facilities. These amenities should be available for use because it would aid residents regardless of age, gender, income or occupation.
Who Does This Impact
According to a census in 2016, 1.67 million people in Canada identified as Aboriginal. The government of Canada further reports that there are over 630 First Nations communities throughout the country. Furthermore, Aboriginal peoples have the youngest population in the country at 44 per cent (as reported through the census).
The birth rates among Indigenous Peoples are double the number for the general population of Canada. Vital Statistics for Atlantic and Western Canada 2003-2007 reports 22 births per 1,000 people of Indigenous origin, whereas, there are 11 births per 1,000 people in the general populous in Canada.
This account remains steady as a 2016 report, FNIHB Health Status of First Nations On-Reserve in Atlantic Canada 2016 EN (2), logs similar numbers in statistics. See chart below.
To tally the total population, in August 2011, the Canadian government released details on the number of remote (or off-grid) communities there are in Canada (Indigenous). There are 292 communities and 194,281 people listed that are not attached to the North-American electrical grid or natural gas system. These are the people at the most risk for health issues.
There are a number of ailments that human kind face and the Indigenous peoples of Canada are no exception. Common causes for concern among the Indigenous are diabetes, high blood pressure and suicide.
Diabetes is the most common self-reported illness, according to 2016 report on Atlantic Canada Regions. They further state that 16 per cent of adults reported having the illness. There has been no improvement from a 2006-2010 (Determinants of Health) report showing the same statistic.
When it comes to high blood pressure nearly 25 per cent of respondents of the report (per every 100) stated they were living with this condition. Furthermore, eight per cent have been identified with having heart disease. That is a jump of two per cent in each category from a 2008-2010 report from those living on reservations.
Suicide rates are nearly triple the general population. It was determined in the Vital Statistics for Atlantic and Western Canada (2003-2007) report that males were at a higher risk of suicide than females (38.3 suicides of 100,000 versus 21.2 of 100,000). Those between the ages of 10 and 24 were at the ultimate highest risk, according to data collected by the report. See chart below.
Access to Health Care
In Canada, there are medical health services available to all citizens. Statistically, in the Determinants of Health report, 38.6 per cent of Indigenous peoples felt that they had less access to health care than the general population.
Top reported reasons for being unable to receive health care:
· Lengthy waitlists
· No medical care experts
· No transportation
As of 2006, only 50.2 per cent of Indigenous peoples ages 25-64 reported having completed high school. In general Canada, the report for the same demographic came back at only 15.2 per cent, according to Determinants of Health.
The level of education people obtain is often is a strong determining factor of health. Of those who rated their health as “excellent” in a 2014 report (Health Status of First Nations On-Reserve in Atlantic Canada), 30 per cent were university graduates while only 19 per cent were those who did not complete high school.
People with higher social standing are better able to care for their physical states. They have higher wages, which in turn, allows them to purchase healthier food options and prescriptions for medication. Maintaining a healthy diet can reduce the risk of illnesses and deterioration of wellbeing.
The unemployment rate reported by Indigenous peoples was almost four times higher than the general population in 2010.
How You Can Help
Through funding, donations of equipment, and education scholarships, these people can have better lives. With assistance from you, children and youth will have better education and higher health rates. Adults will be better equipped to care for their families, and themselves, and may pursue further education to assist with these endeavors.
Sponsorship to increase the number of medical experts in their regions will encourage citizens to seek out these individuals. Doctors and nurses will be able to aid using regulated hours and equipment. People will be diagnosed quicker and will become healthier.
Continued economic support will encourage growth and stability in these regions. Once that has been widely established, their economic input will begin to grow. This will provide a higher work force for Canada overall.
By maintaining physical and mental health within these communities, there will be growth and balance. Funding for medical equipment and technology will increase business, education and inclusion without taking away their identities as Indigenous peoples.
Northern Affairs Canada. (2017, December 04). First Nations. Retrieved from https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1100100013791/1535470872302
Status of Remote/Off-Grid Communities in Canada (Rep.). (2011). Government of Canada.
A Statistical Profile on the Health of First Nations in Canada: Determinants of Health, 2006 to 2010(Rep.). (2014). Health Canada.
First Nations and Inuit Health: Health Status of First Nations On-Reserve in Atlantic Canada 2014(Rep.). (2015). Health Canada.
First Nations and Inuit Health: Health Status of First Nations On-Reserve in Atlantic Canada 2016(Rep.). (2017). Health Canada.
A Statistical Profile on the Health of First Nations in Canada: Vital Statistics for Atlantic and Western Canada, 2003-2007 (Rep.). (2014). Health Canada.
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