Profiling our community’s health status

The Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU) released information today on the health status of people living in its service area. The SDHU Population Health Profile is based on an analysis of the most currently available data sources, covering topics such as mortality rates, leading causes of death, health care utilization, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and health behaviours.

“Under the Ontario Public Health Standards (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care), all Ontario boards of health are required to report regularly on the health of the population.” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health. “This information helps to better understand our community’s health so that we can work together with our partners to plan programs and services that best meet the community’s needs and context. This information also helps us advocate for and build social, economic and environmental policies that will better support health.”

The health profile includes comparisons between the Health Unit’s service area, northeastern Ontario, and Ontario, and also presents differences according to demographic characteristics such as sex and age. Some highlights include:

  • Sixty per cent of people living in the area rate their health as excellent or very good. These findings are similar to the Ontario average.
  • The two leading causes of death in the Health Unit’s service area are ischemic heart disease (heart attacks) and lung cancer. The age-standardized rate of ischemic heart disease declined over the past 10 years.
  • In comparison to provincial rates, people in the Health Unit’s service area have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. These findings are consistent across northeastern Ontario.
  • Rates of avoidable mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancers are higher among males than females, and in general increase with age.
  • Thirty-two per cent of the population in the Health Unit’s service area are physically active, and those rates are similar to the province.
  • An estimated 25 per cent of adults are current smokers, and 24 per cent of people report being heavy drinkers. For these two behaviours, there are currently no differences between the Health Unit’s service area and rest of northeastern Ontario; however, they are higher than provincial rates.

“As public health professionals, we commit ourselves to developing a better understanding of the complex inter-relationships between the factors that influence and determine health” said Renée St Onge, Director of the Health Unit’s Resources, Research, Evaluation and Development division. “A person’s opportunities to achieve health are affected by many factors, many of which are well outside of their individual control. Measuring the health status of our population is an important step to understanding those complex relationships and improving health.”

Further work is ongoing to explore these relationships, and will be the subject of separate analysis, building on previous work from the SDHU’s 2013 Opportunities for All report. Future additions to this profile will also include sections on communicable diseases, injuries, mental health, reproductive outcomes, and other non-communicable diseases such as asthma and diabetes.

The Health Unit serves communities spanning from Chapleau in the north to French River in the south and from Meldrum Bay in the west to Warren in the east. The results in the population health profile represent all of these communities.

To read the complete SDHU Population Health Profile Report, visit

This item was last modified on January 21, 2016