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Canadian Community Health Survey

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In 2008, 84% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported that they had a regular medical doctor, down from 86% in 2003. Between 2005 and 2008, the rate of Canadians who reported high blood pressure, diabetes and influenza immunization increased. The reported prevalence of asthma remained stable over this period.

Access to a regular medical doctor

Women were more likely than men to report that they had a regular doctor. About 88% of women had a doctor, compared with 80% of men in 2008.

The largest difference occurred in the age group 20 to 34. About 34% of men said they did not have a regular doctor, twice the 17% of women. Among those who reported having a regular medical doctor, differences between the sexes decreases with age. There were no significant differences beyond the age of 55.

In 2008, 95% of seniors reported that they had a regular doctor.

Rural residents were slightly more likely than urban residents (86% compared with 84%) to have a regular doctor. Provincially, rates were above the national average for having a regular doctor in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia.

Among the 16% of Canadians who did not have a regular doctor, 56% reported that they had not looked for one while 43% reported they could not find a doctor. That is, there were no doctors available in their area, medical doctors in the area were not taking new patients, or their medical doctor had left or retired. The proportion that could not find a doctor has been increasing since 2003.

When they needed medical care, 58% of people without a doctor reported that they went to a walk-in clinic in 2008. Another 15% went to an emergency room, while 9% went to a community health centre or a Centre local de santé communautaire (CLSC).

High blood pressure

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, affected 16% of Canadians aged 12 or older in 2008, up from 13% in 2001.

For both sexes, high blood pressure becomes more prevalent with age. At the age of 65 or older, 50% of women had high blood pressure, compared with 44% of men. By contrast, the percentage of men under 65 with high blood pressure equalled or surpassed that of women.

Overall, women were slightly more likely than men to report that they had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Residents of rural areas have typically been more likely to have reported being diagnosed with hypertension than urban Canadians. In 2008, 19% of rural dwellers had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, compared with 16% of those living in urban areas.

Note to readers

This second release presents the 2008 data from the Canadian Community Health Survey featuring over 30 health indicators. The analysis in this release covers selected indicators including access to a regular doctor and a set of chronic conditions.

This survey collects a wide range of information about the health status of Canadians, factors determining their health status and their use of health care services. Information was reported by the respondents themselves.

Residents of Indian reserves, health care institutions, some remote areas, and full-time members of the Canadian Forces were excluded.

As a result of the changes introduced to the arthritis module in 2007, analysis is confined to only 2008.

Residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut had rates of diagnosed hypertension lower than the national average.


Diabetes affected 6% of Canadians aged 12 or older in 2008, up from just over 4% in 2001. From 2001 to 2008, men were more likely than women to report that they had diabetes.

Few Canadians younger than 35 reported having diabetes. Even between the ages of 35 and 44, the percentage was around 3% for both sexes. By the age of 65 or older, 18% of men and 14% of women had been diagnosed with diabetes.

Since 2001, rural residents have consistently reported higher rates of diabetes than those reported by urban residents. Provincially, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick had rates higher than the national average.


In 2008, 15% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported that they had been diagnosed with arthritis.

The prevalence of arthritis rose with age among both sexes, but at all ages, women were more likely than men to report the condition. Among seniors aged 65 or older, 51% of women and 34% of men had arthritis.


In 2008, 8% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported that they had been diagnosed with asthma. This percentage has been virtually stable since 2001.

In the population aged 12 to 19, about 11% have asthma. From ages 20 to 64, women had higher asthma rates than men, while there was no significant difference between the sexes in the youngest (12 to 19) and oldest (65 or older) age groups.

Influenza immunization

The likelihood of getting a flu shot was highest among seniors. Two-thirds (67%) of people aged 65 or older had had a flu shot in the past year, compared with 26% of those in the age group 12 to 64.

Among those with chronic conditions, 73% of seniors and 38% between ages 12 and 64 had reported having had a flu shot in the previous 12 months.

Overall, 32% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported that they had been vaccinated against influenza in the 12 months prior to the survey. This represented a 4% increase from 2003.

Only Nova Scotia and Ontario had influenza immunization rates above the national level in 2008.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3226.

Visit the new Health in Canada module for the most up-to-date statistics on the health of Canadians and the health care system. The new module is also accessible from the Statistics Canada homepage.

Two products featuring results from the Canadian Community Health Survey 2008 were released June 25, 2009, from our website. The latest electronic issue of Health Indicators, 2009, no. 1 (82-221-X, free), provides a set of more than 30 health indicators for Canada, the provinces and territories, and the health regions.

In addition, the new Health Profile (82-228-X, free) online application, which is also available from the Publications module of our website, provides a place name search to find latest health data available for any health region in Canada.

For more information about the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2008, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-1746;, Health Statistics Division.

For more information, contact Media Relations (613-951-4636), Communications and Library Services Division.