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Health and Social Services System in Brief

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The Health ans Social Services System in Québecs

The Health and Well-Being of Québec’s Population

In 2012, in Québec, life expectancy at birth was among the highest in the world, at 81.8 years (79.8 years for men and 83.8 years for women). An overwhelming percentage of the population describes itself as being in good physical and mental health. The population’s health status has improved since the 2000s, in terms of survival rates for cardiac disease and cancer. A further sign of improvement is that, in the last ten years, Québec has reported fewer suicides, particularly among its youth.

Prevention campaigns and clinical interventions appear to be producing results. Examples include an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables and a reduction in the number of smokers, although in the latter case the figures have stagnated since 2006, at around 20%, following an earlier and spectacular decline. Obesity, however, is increasing; more than 1 adult out of 6 is now overweight. Although the prevalence of obesity in Québec is slightly below the Canadian average, it is still higher than that of many OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

In Québec, as in most industrialized countries, chronic disease and disability place significant pressure on the health and social services system. Half the population aged 12 and over had at least one chronic health problem in 2010-2011, and a quarter had at least two. Today, 16% of Québecers have high blood pressure, and 6% are diabetic. The prevalence of cardiac disease and cancer is also increasing. More than half of all new cancer cases involve prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer. Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia are also on the increase; 1 adult in every 10 falls victim to a mental disorder every year.

Roughly 11% of the population, regardless of age, has a moderate to severe disability. The disability rate among children has been increasing in Québec since 2001, mainly in the form of attention deficit disorder, asthma, learning disabilities and developmental delays.

Québec’s population is also ageing rapidly. The percentage of people aged 65 or over, which was between 12% and 13% in the late 1990s, is expected to double by 2031, to more than 25%. For the purpose of comparison, it will take 51 years for Canada, 59 years for France and 67 years for Sweden to reach the same level. Only in Japan is the population ageing more quickly than in Québec; the percentage of people aged 65 and over will have doubled in 18 years’ time.

In addition to the pressure it places on the demand for health services and social services, this trend means that the supply must be adjusted to respond more effectively to the changing needs of people suffering from chronic diseases, cognitive disorders and disabilities in daily life.

Lastly, despite gains in recent years, health-related social inequalities still persist. These inequalities, which are related to poverty, result among other things in a lower life expectancy and higher rates of chronic disease, drug and alcohol dependency and Youth Protection interventions.

Updated on : April 10, 2014

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