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Our 2021 Health Status Report

Highlights of the Report

Demographics and Socioeconomics

The Porcupine Health Unit (PHU), located in Northeastern Ontario, is geographically the largest health unit in Ontario. Its size and location make it both demographically and socioeconomically unique amongst other health units in the province.

Compared to Ontario, the PHU has:

  • A sparsely distributed population (0.3 persons/km2 vs. 14.8 persons/km2);
  • A higher population that identifies as Aboriginal (19.6% vs. 2.8%);
  • A higher francophone population (42.0% vs. 3.8%);
  • A higher unemployment rate (9.6% vs. 7.4%);
  • A lower level of education (45.6% have more than a high school education vs. 55.0%);
  • A lower percentage of the population in low income (5.1% vs. 9.8%).


Some Encouraging Findings

On some measures of wellbeing, the residents of the PHU fare better than the residents of Ontario as a whole. For example, when compared to Ontario, PHU residents had:

  • Higher levels of strong or somewhat strong sense of community belonging (73.2% vs. 70.9%);
  • Higher levels of self-reported physical activity during leisure time (60.9% vs. 54.7%);
  • Higher compliance rates for vaccination of school-aged children of over 90%;
  • Lower percentage of children in senior kindergarten identified as at risk or vulnerable in the areas of physical health and well-being, social competence, and communication skills & general knowledge;
  • A lower rate of enteric diseases and a decreasing rate of influenza.


Some Challenging Findings

According to some health indicators, the residents of the PHU face major challenges compared to the residents of Ontario. Specifically, compared to Ontario as a whole, PHU residents had:

  • A lower life expectancy with 4.4 years less for men and 4.1 years less for women;
  • A 1.6 times higher rate of potentially avoidable mortality (e.g., deaths due to smoking, excessive drinking, or injuries);
  • A 1.4 times higher rate of mortality for all causes;
  • A lower percentage of the population perceive their health as very good or excellent (53.8% vs. 61.5%) or their mental health as very good or excellent (65.3% vs. 71.1%);
  • Higher rates of hospitalization for conditions associated with lifestyle factors such as heart disease, diabetes, and injuries;
  • A higher percentage of the population report chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, mood and anxiety disorders;
  • A higher percentage of the population is overweight or obese (72.3% vs. 61.5%), drink at levels associated with negative health outcomes (54.4% vs. 44.4%), and smoke (27.8% vs. 18.1%);
  • A lower percentage of households are food secure (86.5% vs. 91.4%);
  • A higher teenage pregnancy rate (2.5 times higher);
  • A higher proportion of new mothers with mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression;
  • A lower percentage of mothers intending to breastfeed, and a lower percentage of infants fed breastmilk;
  • Higher rates of sexually transmitted and blood-borne diseases such as chlamydia, hepatitis C, and gonorrhea.

The report (PDF) provides further details on selected social determinants of health, mortality, morbidity, risk factors, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases, for the residents of the Porcupine Health Unit.