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British Columbia and Ontario Rank Among Top International Performers in Health Report Card

Canada ranks 8th among 16 peer countries. Seven of the provinces and territories get a “D” or worse.

Ottawa, February 12, 2015—British Columbia has the healthiest population in Canada, and along with Ontario ranks higher than most advanced countries in The Conference Board of Canada’s first How Canada Performs: Health report card that compares the health performance of Canada, the provinces, territories, and 15 peer countries. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are at the bottom of the pack, with population health on par with that of the United States.

“B.C. and Ontario are the top ranked in Canada, in large part, because their residents tend to lead healthier lifestyles. They have the lowest shares of daily smokers and heavy drinkers in Canada. And B.C. has the most physically active population and the lowest obesity rate in the country,” said Gabriela Prada, Director, Health Innovation, Policy and Evaluation. “At the other end of the spectrum, the worst ranking provinces and the territories receive poor grades on most mortality indicators and have lower life expectancies.”

chart of health performance grades and rankings for Canada and the provinces


  • Canada gets a “B” grade on the health report card and ranks 8th among 16 peer countries.
  • B.C. earns the country’s only “A” grade and ranks third overall, after Switzerland and Sweden.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador, the lowest ranking province, has poorer health outcomes than the United States, the worst performing peer country.

How Canada Performs is an ongoing research program at The Conference Board of Canada to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada’s socio-economic performance. Six performance domains are assessed: Economy, Education and Skills, Innovation, Environment, Health, and Society. This is the first time that provincial and territorial rankings are included in the analysis.

Based on 10 health status indicators, The How Canada Performs: Health report card assesses health performance and assigns grades on the overall health of the population.

Canada gets an overall “B” grade and ranks 8th among the 16 peer countries.

Canada scores “B”s on most of the indicators—its only “A”s are on self-reported health and self reported mental health. These two indicators reflect how people feel about their own health and represent physical, emotional, and social aspects of health and well-being.

Canada earns its lowest grade, a “C” on two indicators: infant mortality and mortality due to diabetes.

Canada’s low grade in infant mortality may be due, in part, to differences in how Canada and its international peers register babies with an extremely low birth weight. Discrepancies among countries’ definitions of births as live births or stillbirths can lead to under-reporting of infant deaths by some countries.

While Canada compares favourably against peer countries when it comes to some risk factors that lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, the country’s obesity rate is cause for concern. The share of overweight or obese Canadians continues to increase. Even more worrying is the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity across Canada. The highest obesity rates are reported in the Atlantic provinces, where more than a quarter of the adult population are considered obese.

In this year’s Health analysis, the 16 peer countries assessed, and their corresponding grades, are:

  • “A”—Switzerland, Sweden
  • “B”—Australia, Norway, France, Japan, Netherlands, Canada, Germany
  • “C”—Finland, United Kingdom, Austria, Ireland, Belgium
  • “D”—Denmark, United States

Further details, including information on data sources and the methodology behind the rankings, can be found on the How Canada Performs website.

Watch a video commentary by Gabriela Prada, Director, Health Innovation, Policy and Evaluation.


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