Skip to main content

The cost of injuries

Every hour more than 400 people in Canada suffer a preventable injury as a result of a fall, a motor vehicle crash, a fire, poisoning, drowning, or other activities. The most telling part of that fact is that these are ‘preventable!’
A report published in June 2015 by Parachute in collaboration with the Conference Board of Canada, called “The Cost of Injury in Canada” quantifies the staggering cost of injury to Canadians, our health care system, and to Canadian society overall. The report is available from their website at

The extent of the problem 

How serious is this problem? Should we worry? It is very serious, and yes, we should be worried. Across Canada (2010 data) there were 15,866 deaths and 231,596 hospitalizations due to preventable injury. Add in nearly 3.5 million emergency room visits and some 60,000 Canadians either partially or permanently disabled and you get a good idea of the costs we face. In particular, the Report calculates direct health care costs at $15.9 billion, and at $26.8 billion in total economic costs — related to lost productivity from hospitalization, disability and premature death.
In Canada, preventable injury is the leading cause of death for ages one to 44; it also claims the lives of more children than all other causes. The simple fact is, almost all of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented. Making investments in programs that have proven effective can make a real difference. For example, for every dollar invested on bicycle helmets saves society $45; child safety seats, $42; zero alcohol tolerance for drivers under 21, $25; smoke alarms, $18; and poison control centers, $8.

Variety of injuries

The variety of ways we find to injure, maim and kill ourselves is wide-ranging: transportation incidents, falls, drowning, fire or burns, unintentional poisoning, suicide or self-harm, and violence all contribute to the statistics. Of these, falls account for a very significant number of deaths and hospitalization. Suicide and self-harm, along with transport incidents, round out the top three sources of danger.
While these data are for Canada as a whole, individual provincial numbers are also provided in the Parachute report. In British Columbia injury led to 35,816 hospitalizations and to 456,347 visits to the emergency room. There were 643 cases of permanent total disability along with over 8,000 cases of permanent partial disability.
Comparing the economic costs across Canada provides another view on the issue. For BC, the per capita costs were $816. The prairie provinces averaged about $1,050; Ontario and Quebec, approximately $700; and the Atlantic provinces ranged from $700 to $950.
Recognizing that injury and death can be mostly prevented is an important part of the message from the Parachute report. This is true both at the societal level and for individuals. The failure to prevent incidents that hurt us must be examined at every level. Fortunately, we can take heart from the fact that preventable injuries are just that: preventable.
Dr. Paul Martiquet is the Medical Health Officer for Rural Vancouver Coastal Health including Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, Sea-to-Sky, Bella Bella and Bella Coola
SOURCE: The cost of injuries ( )
Page printed:

Copyright © Vancouver Coastal Health. All Rights Reserved.