Sobering health statistics delivered in Rossland’s Community Health Profile

Rossland’s BC Community Health Profile, provided to city council by the Provincial Health Services Authority, offers sobering statistics.

Sobering health statistics delivered in Rossland's Community Health Profile

Rossland’s BC Community Health Profile, recently provided to Rossland city council by the Provincial Health Services Authority, offers some sobering statistics.

According to the health profile, which draws on available federal and provincial data, residents in the Trail Local Health Area (LHA), which includes Rossland, need to cut back on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Based on the Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) Index, which “estimates the number of years of life ‘lost’ to early deaths (i.e., deaths before age 75),” the average PYLL for alcohol related death’s in Trail LHA is 76 per cent higher than the BC average. For smoking attributable deaths, Trail’s average is 24 per cent higher than BC’s, and for drug-induced death’s its 6 per cent higher.

Trail LHA also compares unfavorably to the rest of the province when it comes to injury-related deaths. Trail LHA is 41 per cent higher on the PYLL index for falls than BC, and 29 per cent higher for motor vehicle crashes.

Lower life expectancy

Average life expectancy is also lower in the Trail LHA than in BC. The life expectancy for females in the Trail LHA is 82.3 years, compared to an average of 84.3 years in BC. For males in the Trail LHA, life expectancy is 78.4 years, compared to 80.2 years for the province. Overall, the life expectancy in Trail LHA is 80.4 years, compared to 82.3 years in BC.

Trail LHA chronic disease rates above BC rates

Residents in the Trail LHA are also being diagnosed with chronic disease at a higher rate than BC residents as a whole.

The incidence rate (“the number of people who get sick per 1,000 in the community”) of asthma in the Trail LHA in 2013 was 8.7, compared to a rate of 6.0 in BC. The rate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was 12.5 compared to 8.3 in BC, for heart failure it was 2.9 compared to 2.3, and for high blood pressure it was 18.6 compared to 17.3.

The one exception was the incidence rate of diabetes, which was 2.7 in the Trail LHA and 5.1 in BC.

Higher incomes, not enough affordable rental housing

Rossland residents have a higher average household income than other BC residents, but a signigicant number of renters are still spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

In 2011, the average household income in Rossland was $83,600, 6.9 per cent above the provincial average household income, which was $78,227. But in 2006, 40.5 per cent of renter households in Rossland spent more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter. It was still a lower percentage that the province as a whole, 43.4 per cent, but is still large enough to be a cause for concern, especially in the context of the Community Health Profile.

In the opening of the profile, its authors explain that “long before illness, health starts in our homes, schools and jobs. Our health is affected by access to clean water and healthy food, affordable recreational activities, education and employment opportunities.” Housing that costs 30 per cent or more of a household’s income is generally considered to be unaffordable, and “households spending 30 [per cent] of their income on housing are less able to afford healthy food and other basic living costs.”

More highly educated, but facing higher unemployment

Similarly, access to employment opportunities can impact an individual or household’s health. In 2011, while 90.2 per cent of Rosslanders aged 15 and up had a high school diploma or higher education with 25.4 per cent holding a college diploma and 27.1 holding a university degree (all higher than BC numbers) Rossland’s unemployment rate was 8.1 per cent, compared to a provincial unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent.

Healthier habits needed for majority of students

While most students in the Trail LHA report that they do not smoke, far fewer reported that they are physically active and eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

In response to a 2013-2014 satisfaction survey, 86 per cent of Grade 12 students in the Trail LHA reported that they do not smoke cigarettes, as did 89 per cent of Grade 10 students and 97 per cent of Grade 7 students.

Answering the same survey, 42 per cent of Grade 12 students reported that they are physically active, while 44 per cent reported that they’ve been eating their fruits and veggies. Of the Grade 10 students, 52 per cent said they were physically active, but only 39 per cent said they were getting their fruits and vegetables, and for the Grade 7 students, only 34 per cent reported they were physically active, while 52 per cent said that they’d been eating over five servings of fruits or vegetables a day.