Many studies have found inequities in health among income groups in Canada. We report the variations in the major chronic disease risks among low-income populations, by province of residence, as a proxy measure of social environment.
We used estimates from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey to study residents who were aged 45 years or older and from the lowest income quintile nationally. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between province of residence and risk of chronic diseases.
British Columbia is the healthiest province overall but not in terms of its low-income residents, whereas Quebec's low-income residents are at the least risk for major chronic diseases. The significant differences in risk of hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease in favor of British Columbia over Quebec for the entire population disappear when considering only the low-income subset.
Quebec's antipoverty strategy, formalized as law in 2002, has led to social and health care policies that appear to give its low-income residents advantages in chronic disease prevention. Our findings demonstrate that chronic disease prevalence is associated with investment in social supports to vulnerable populations.
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