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Canadians Give Themselves a Clean Bill of Health, But Not All Groups Feel the Same Way

Ottawa, October 4, 2012—Canadians say they generally feel healthy, but significant groups in the population are much more likely to consider their health as just fair or poor, according to the results of a survey, released by The Conference Board of Canada and EKOS Research Associates.

When asked to rate their health, half of respondents answers that their health was excellent (16 per cent) or very good (34 per cent). Nearly a third of respondents (32 per cent) cautiously rate their health as good. A sizeable percentage of respondents, however, were considerably less optimistic, rating their health as either fair (14 per cent) or poor (four per cent).

“The good news is that a large proportion of Canadians feel they are healthy. The challenge for the future is to increase this number, particularly among specific groups within the population,” said Louis Thériault, Director, Health Economics, The Conference Board of Canada.

Looking at the more detailed data, however, reveals some important disparities in the self-reported health status of Canadians. Consistent with research literature suggesting that socio-economic status is a key determinant of health, wealthier and more highly-educated respondents felt better about their health than other Canadians.

Fully 38 per cent of respondents with a household income of less than $20,000 rated their health as fair or poor, while just 10 per cent of those with a household income of $100,000 or more did so.

One third of respondents with high school education or less deemed their health to be fair or poor, compared to 16 per cent of university graduates who feel in a similar state. However, college-educated graduates were more likely than high-school graduates or university graduates to say that their personal health had improved in the past five years. And a majority of employed persons said they enjoyed excellent or very good health.

Regional differences emerged in individuals’ perceptions about their own health. For example, one-quarter of Quebecers said their health was fair or poor, compared to just 17 per cent of Albertans who felt the same way.

Marital status also appears to have an impact on individuals’ views of their health. Respondents who are married with children were more likely to as say that their health was excellent or very good (56 per cent compared to 50 per cent of the overall population).

One quarter of single individuals with children said their health was fair or poor. And almost 4 out of 10 single parents said that their overall health has worsened in the past five years.

Visible minorities also expressed less positive responses about their health. Compared to the 18 per cent of all respondents who said their health was fair or poor, 30 per cent of visible minorities described their health this way.

EKOS Research Associates conducted this study to update and refine the understanding of Canadian views on health and the health care system. The methodology involved a nationally representative survey of 2,047 Canadians 18 years of age and older – 519 were surveyed by telephone and 1,528 completed the survey online. The sample source for this study was members of the EKOS panel, which was specifically designed for online/telephone surveys, Results include a margin of errors of plus or minus 2.2 per cent 19 times out of 20. The survey took place in May 2012, and the findings will be released throughout October and November 2012.

For more information contact

Brent Dowdall
Associate Director, Communications
[email protected]