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Métis more prone to diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease


In the first research initiative examining chronic disease in the Métis people in Ontario, researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO) found that rates of common chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart attack are significantly higher in the Métis than Ontario’s general population.

“This landmark research represents the first time chronic disease rates amongst MNO citizens have been studied and the analysis clearly demonstrate the need for this type of Métis-specific research. The findings will help build the evidence base that is needed to support ongoing efforts to reduce the health disparities between Métis and other Ontarians and to improve the health and well-being of the Métis overall. The MNO will continue to play a lead role in moving this important agenda forward,” says Gary Lipinski, President, MNO.

The Métis make up approximately 30 per cent of the Aboriginal population in Canada, according to the 2006 census. Métis people trace their ancestry to the offspring of European men and First Nations women and are a distinct Aboriginal people set apart from First Nations and Inuit by language, culture and history.

In this research collaboration, four studies compared rates of cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease between Métis citizens of the Métis Nation of Ontario and the general population of Ontario. The main findings were:

  • Prevalence and incidence of diabetes is approximately 25 per cent higher in the Métis compared to the general population.
  • Métis with diabetes are less likely to receive specialist care from endocrinologists or general internists compared to the general population.
  • Prevalence of acute coronary syndromes (heart attack and unstable angina) and congestive heart failure is significantly higher in the Métis (80 and 30 per cent respectively).
  • Lung cancer was 40 per cent higher among Métis women compared to the general population of women in Ontario.
  • Prevalence of asthma and COPD is significantly higher in the Métis (20 and 70 per cent respectively).
  • Métis with asthma or COPD have lower rates of physician visits and higher rates of ED visits and hospitalizations compared to the general population.

"This study is important because for the first time in Ontario, we are able to evaluate the health of the Métis. This represents a most important collaboration between ICES and MNO and points the way to future work that will result in interventions to correct the inequities that exist in the provision of care,” says David Henry, CEO, ICES.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.