February 20, 2003

York Region releases Health Status Report


NEWMARKET - York Region today released A Measure of Health: Health Status Report 2002 which outlines the most up-to-date available information about the health of York Region residents.

A Measure of Health covers a wide range of health-related information, drawing on multiple sources and primarily covering a five-year period from 1997 to 2002. The report is organized into twelve chapters by topic, with related charts, maps and appendices. It is the fourth in a series of comprehensive health status reports produced by York Region Health Services, with earlier reports released in 1986, 1991 and 1997.

Its findings? York Region scores better than the Ontario average on almost every key health indicator, including:

  • Life expectancy: York Region residents can expect to live to 81.8 years, the highest life expectancy in Ontario.
  • Disability-free life expectancy: Residents can expect to live not only long lives but disability-free lives until the age of 71.1 years, tied with Halton Region for the highest rate in the province.
  • Excellent health: 93% of York Region adults over the age of 18 years reported themselves as being in excellent, very good or good health.
  • Education: Higher education can mean greater employment opportunities, income and health. Of our residents age 15 and over, 30.8% had some level of university education, compared to the provincial average of 24.3%.
  • Healthy babies: A healthy weight at birth offers a strong start for a child's healthy growth and development. The Regionís low birth weight rate (3.9 per 100 singleton live births) was lower than the provincial rate of 4.5.
  • Cancer rates: The cancer incidence rate was lower than the provincial average (between 1986 and 2000) for the following cancers: oral, melanoma, cervical, colorectal, prostate, female breast and lung.
  • Hospitalizations: From 1997-2001, the hospitalization rate among residents was lower than the rate elsewhere in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Death rates: York Region death rates from all causes were the lowest in the province from 1990 to 1999.

" A Measure of Health is not just a health status report. It is a tool to advocate for a healthier future," said Bill Fisch, Regional Chair and CEO. "York Region places great importance on long-range planning. The information in this report will help make data-driven planning possible as we continue to help residents live long, healthy lives."

"We can truly give no greater gift to the next generation than health," he added.

"The health care sector has a direct role in improving the health of our residents," commented Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Chair of the York Region Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee. "A Measure of Health affirms, however, that many influences outside the traditional health system affect our health. York Region is committed to ongoing dialogue and collaboration with other health-determining sectors, including business, social services and education, to improve the health of the population." Ö2

(Health Status Report continued) -2-

"We can celebrate the report findings that our residents enjoy healthier and longer lives than many people living in other Ontario communities, but our work has really just begun," said Dr. Helena Jaczek, Commissioner of York Region Health Services and Medical Officer of Health. "We must now recognize and address the many challenges that A Measure of Health presents, including population growth, cultural diversity and income disparity, if the Region is to maintain or improve this level of health."

Residents are encouraged to get involved with their health by taking action to:

  • Reduce smoking rates: Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada. About 150,000 (23%) of Region residents age 12 years and over are current smokers.
  • Promote physical activity: Regular exercise helps prevent illnesses such as heart disease and osteoporosis. In York Region, nearly 1/2 of all residents ages 12 years and over reported being physically inactive.
  • Address the issue of obesity: Make healthy eating choices. Canadaís Food Guide to Healthy Eating is a good place to start. In York Region, 46% of adults ages 20 to 64 are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • Practice preventative behaviours:
  • Have an annual check up with your family doctor and see your dentist on a regular basis.
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before you eat and when you are ill.
  • Put on sunscreen before you go outdoors for an extended period of time.
  • Prepare and store food appropriately
  • Immunize your children against vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Use your seatbelt and buckle your child into an approved child seat carrier when driving.
  • Recognize the growing income gap in York Region: The number of low-income families has grown from 8% in 1991 to 11.5% in 1996. Consider supporting others through donations and advocating for services, and
  • Care for our environment: Drive your car less. Take York Region Transit (YRT) when you can. Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides on your garden. Choose energy saving and low water flow devices. (Ask about York Region's water-saving Water for Tomorrow program).

York Region Health Status Report 2002: A Measure of Health is a publication of the York Region Health Services Department. To obtain a copy of the report or for more information contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.region.york.on.ca


Contact: Kim Clark, York Region Health Services

905-830-4444 Ext.4101


The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:  www.region.york.on.ca

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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