New report outlines actions needed to reduce chronic disease in Aboriginal communities

Policy recommendations focus on reducing exposure to four key risk factors

TORONTOJune 15, 2016 – There is an urgent need for system-level interventions that reduce the high burden of chronic disease faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis and encourage healthy behaviours, according to a new report entitled Path to Prevention – Recommendations for Reducing Chronic Disease in First Nations, Inuit and Métis, released today by Cancer Care Ontario.

Rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory diseases are increasing at an alarming rate among First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations. The report provides the Government of Ontario with evidence-based policy recommendations to reduce exposure to four key chronic disease risk factors in Aboriginal communities: commercial tobacco use, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. It is also a key deliverable of Cancer Care Ontario’s third Aboriginal Cancer Strategy.

“The path towards healthier First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities involves not only taking practical actions directed at encouraging healthy behaviours, but also creating environments that encourage people to make healthier choices,” says Alethea Kewayosh, Director, Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, Cancer Care Ontario. “The recommendations in this report focus on creating supportive environments that empower First Nations, Inuit and Métis people to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of chronic disease, including cancer.”

The policy recommendations address the social determinants of Aboriginal health and were informed by First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, health system representatives, health data and literature reviews. They were guided by the Joint Ontario Aboriginal Cancer Committee and Cancer Care Ontario, and they aim to reduce inequities by focusing on the highest priority needs.

Quick facts:

  • Ontario is home to the largest First Nations, Inuit and Métis population in Canada, with an estimated 278,500 First Nations, 86,015 Métis and 3,360 Inuit.
  • Rates of chronic conditions are significantly higher in First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations than in the general Ontario population. Sixty-three per cent of First Nations off-reserve and 61 per cent of Métis suffer from one or more chronic conditions, compared to 47 per cent of non-First Nations, Inuit and Métis counterparts.
  • The adoption of healthy lifestyles has been shown to reduce the incidence of cancer by at least one-third, and decrease the incidence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease by 80 per cent.
  • A study showed that when compared to their non-First Nations, Inuit and Métis counterparts, one-third to two-thirds of disparities in mortality from all causes in registered First Nations and Métis adults were associated with lower levels of income, education or occupational skill and urban residence.

Although the emphasis of the report is on policy actions for the Government of Ontario, implementation will involve the full participation of key stakeholders, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, other organizations and the Government of Ontario. Moving forward, Cancer Care Ontario will create a collaborative structure that includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and other key partners to develop, plan, implement and evaluate progress.

“Our government is taking action to make a real difference in Indigenous communities by addressing urgent healthcare needs and improving access to care,” says Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “Ensuring that First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities have equitable access to healthcare is a key priority for our government, and we are committed to engaging with Indigenous partners to collaboratively identify how we can address the social determinants of health and improve health outcomes.”

“I welcome the Path to Prevention released today by Cancer Care Ontario,” says David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Closing the gaps in health outcomes and investing in the health and wellness of Indigenous communities is one of many steps on this province’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

A full copy of the report is available at Please click here to view the media backgrounder, which highlights key recommendations within each risk factor.

To read more about the third Aboriginal Cancer Strategy and the work Cancer Care Ontario is doing to improve health equity for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, please click here.

To determine your personal cancer risk, visit today.

About Cancer Care Ontario:

Cancer Care Ontario plays an important role in equipping health professionals, organizations and policy-makers with the most up-to-date cancer knowledge and tools to prevent cancer and deliver high-quality patient care.  It does this by collecting and analyzing data about cancer services and combining it with evidence and research that is shared with the healthcare community in the form of guidelines and standards. It also monitors and measures the performance of the cancer system, and oversees a funding and governance model that ties funding to performance, making healthcare providers more accountable and ensuring value for investments in the system.

Cancer Care Ontario actively engages people with cancer and their families in the design, delivery and evaluation of Ontario’s cancer system, and works to improve the performance of Ontario’s cancer system by driving quality, accountability, innovation and value.

Version française disponible.

For further information: Cancer Care Ontario, Phone: 1-855-460-2646, Email:



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