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‘D’ for provincial health report card

Saskatchewan lags behind several provinces

Author: Rebekah Lesko – contributor

Health grades across Canada according to The Conference Board of Canada's study, How Canada Performs. / Beka Lesko
Health grades across Canada according to The Conference Board of Canada’s study, How Canada Performs. / Beka Lesko

Originally for INK Online

The marks are in; Saskatchewan’s health barely squeaks by with a passing grade.

The province was recently ranked by the Conference Board of Canada in their report, How Canada Performs: Health. The report was based on 11 health status indicators and included 29 regions. The regions consisted of Canada, its provinces and territories and 15 peer countries.

Saskatchewan placed 24 out of 29 regions across the globe with a D average. Regions taking home the A rating included Switzerland, Sweden and Canada’s own British Columbia. The lowest ranked D minus provinces included Newfoundland and Labrador and the three Canadian territories.

“B.C. spends the least amount on healthcare per capita versus Newfoundland and Labrador which has among the highest spending of the provinces,” said Sheila Rao, program manager of How Canada Performs.

Rao said the study revealed how there is a correlation between Aboriginal population and health outcomes.

“If you see territories and other provinces, like Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which have a higher Aboriginal population, do more poorly compared to the other provinces,” said Rao.

“There are lots of factors that come into play. It’s not just lifestyle factor, but poverty, human equality, the cost of living. There are a lot of issues that need to be tackled,” Rao said.

Saskatchewan’s population is over 15 per cent Aboriginal. This is well above the Canadian average, the report noted.

This report came as no surprise to Wendy Whitebear, research coordinator of Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre.

“Our poor health report card is a socioeconomic problem and it is related to First Nations people,” Whitebear said. “It’s something, you know? It’s a part of our lives. It’s not a shock. It’s not a surprise. It’s just, that’s our life,” Whitebear said.

Saskatchewan’s worst mark is a D minus in infant mortality, which translates into 6.43 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Saskatchewan’s scores its only two B’s from self-reported health and self-reported mental health. Additionally, the province earns three D’s on premature mortality, mortality due to diabetes and life expectancy.

The life expectancy in Saskatchewan averages 79.7 years in contrast to the national average of 81.5 years. “Aboriginal people in Canada have life expectancies that are five or more years less than those of the total Canadian population,” the report added.

“We have the issues of housing, education, food security, unemployment. There’s poor health based on all of it. It’s not just one example,” Whitebear said.

As a nation, Canada was given a B grade.

“Overall, it looks like Canada is doing relatively well. A B rating is by no means poor, but when you delve in at the provincial and territorial level, you see the disparities,” Rao said.

 

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