Injuries divert essential hospital resources and cost Canadian residents $29.4 billion annually

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Injury remains the no. 1 cause of death for Canadians age 1 to 44, and annually causes 17,475 deaths, 231,530 hospitalizations, and 4.6 million trips to emergency departments: the majority of these injuries are predictable and preventable.

TORONTO, July 5, 2021 – Preventable injuries cost the Canadian economy $29.4 billion in a single year, including $20.4 billion in direct health-care costs. 

That’s just one of the findings from Potential Lost, Potential for Change: The Cost of Injury 2021, a new report published today on National Injury Prevention Day by Parachute, Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention.

“While this report unmasks the economic costs of injury, and the biggest causes of injury, that’s only part of the story,” says Pamela Fuselli, President and CEO of Parachute. “The human cost of injury brings pain, suffering and diminished health and well-being to individuals and their families. It impacts everyone’s potential to live long lives to the fullest. “

The report, created by Parachute in collaboration with the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada, pulls together and examines data on injury across Canada from 2018, the latest year for which full statistics are available.

Key findings 

  • Unintentional poisonings have overtaken transport incidents as the third-biggest cause of injury-related deaths in Canada for the first time. While transport incident deaths have declined, the number of poisoning deaths has more than doubled since 2010, largely attributable to opioid-related poisonings. 
  • Falls remain the biggest cause of death through injury in the country, followed by suicide/self-harm.
  • Unintentional injuries, caused by things such as falls and transport incidents, accounted for 86 per cent of injury costs ($25.3 billion). Falls had a higher total cost than any other cause in 2018, accounting for $10.3 billion, or 35 per cent, of the total cost of injury. 

The story of injury in Canada is a story of potential lost.

“Injury is the leading cause of death for Canadians aged one to 44, ahead of cancer and heart disease. The human and societal potential lost through injury is immense,” says Fuselli, when these young people’s lives are cut short. “In 2018, injuries stole 333,791 years of potential life lived, of missed celebrations, milestones, family memories, and contributions through work and volunteering.”

The total cost of injuries, $29.4 billion “equals a cost of $80 million to the Canadian economy every day,” says Dr. Ian Pike, a Parachute Board Director, director of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia and investigator with BC Children’s Hospital. “The total direct cost of $20.4 billion translates to an average of $56 million spent per day in the Canadian health-care system. Investing even a fraction of that amount in injury prevention would free up resources for other important needs in the system: for example, fewer injuries would lead to more critical-care hospital beds available for patients with other health concerns.”

We have the potential to change the story

“Almost all these injuries and deaths, and the resulting costs, could have been prevented,” says Fuselli. “We know how to prevent incidents and have to take action to create a different story of a Canada free from serious injuries and deaths.”

The report authors recommend embracing three key investments to reduce injury and its costs in Canada:

  • Invest in advocacy to ensure that our laws, the spaces and places where we live, play, work and travel, and the products we use are all built to standards that minimize injury.
  • Invest in preventative measures that we know work to reduce or eliminate injury, and educate people about their effectiveness to ensure these are widely adopted.
  • Invest in research to grow our evidence of what is effective so we can stem Canada’s tragic loss of potential by preventing injuries and saving lives in the years to come.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada is proud to support Parachute as we work to gain a better understanding of the true cost of injury in our country,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. “Many injuries are predictable and preventable, and key to prevention is education. I encourage all Canadians to learn about what they can do to minimize the risk of preventable injuries.”

Explore the full report atparachute.ca/costofinjury.

About the Cost of Injury Report 

Parachute created The Cost of Injury in Canada 2021 in collaboration with the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada. This report is the fourth of its kind. A Cost of Injury in Canada report was last published in 2015, with 2010 data. Using a similar but updated methodology, the 2021 report presents data on all injuries at the national level from the year 2018, the last year where complete data are available. For the first time in the report’s history, the report is published interactively, featuring Tableau data visualizations that can be filtered by the viewer.

About Parachute

Parachute is Canada’s national charity dedicated to reducing the devastating impact of preventable injuries. Injury is the No. 1 killer of Canadians aged 1 to 44. The financial toll is staggering, with injury costing the Canadian economy $29.4 billion a year. Through education and advocacy, Parachute is working to save lives and create a Canada free of serious injuries. For more information, visit us at parachute.ca and follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

View the report here.

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