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Profile: Canada (excerpt)

This country provides access to universal, comprehensive medical coverage on the basis of need and not the ability to pay

By Michael E. Rogers, PhD, CSCS, FACSM

Editor-in-Chief, Active Aging Today

Country: Canada


Total Population: 33,487,208 (July 2010 est.), 37th most populated country in the world [1]


Population over age 65: 15.2% with 2,862,787 women and 2,220,189 men (2010 est.) [1]


Estimated life expectancy: age 83.91 for women and age 78.69 for men with an average of 81.23 years, which is 7th in the world [1].


Birth rate: 10.28 births/1,000 population (2010 est.), 192nd in the world [1]


Death rate: 7.74 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.), 113 in the world [1]


How are older-adult demographics changing? The number of people aged 65+ is expected to reach 6.7 million in 2021 and 9.2 million in 2041 (nearly one in four Canadians). The fastest growth in the older adult population is occurring among the oldest Canadians. In 2001, there were approximately 430,000 Canadians 85 years of age or older, twice as many as in 1981 and more than 20 times as many as in 1921. By 2041, the proportion of Canadians aged 85 years or older is expected to grow to 1.6 million or 4% of the overall population [2].


Total expenditure on health per capita (International $, 2006): 3,672 [3]


Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2006): 10 [3]


How does the country address health care? Canada has a publicly funded, privately delivered health care system that consists of ten provincial and three territorial health insurance plans. Commonly called “medicare,” the system provides access to universal, comprehensive coverage for hospital, inpatient and outpatient physician services on the basis of medical need and not the ability to pay. The Canadian system is referred to as a "national" health insurance system as all provincial/territorial hospital and medical insurance plans are connected through adherence to a group of national principles established at the federal level. However, management and delivery of health services is the responsibility of each province or territory [4].


Major health-related issues:

Heart Disease: Although cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in Canada, between 1950 and 1999, the death rates from cardiovascular disease decreased from 702 per 100,000 to 288 per 100,000 men, and from 562 per 100,000 to 175 per 100,000 women. Those who reported having heart disease as diagnosed by a health professional were 5.4% of men and 4.6% of women [5].


Obesity: In 2004, 23.1% Canadian adults, or 5.5 million people aged 18 or older, were obese. An additional 8.6 million people (36.1%) were overweight. Obesity rates are significantly higher than 25 years prior when Canada’s obesity rate was 13.8%. However, Canada’s adult obesity rate (23.1%) is much lower than in the United States (29.7%) [6].


To read the entire article, go to Active Aging Today. If you’re not a subscriber, subscribe now.

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