Canada faces injury burden of close to $20 billion annually



    TORONTO, Aug. 18 /CNW/ - Injury costs Canadians $19.8 billion annually -
more than $600 for each man, woman and child in the country, according to a
new report released by SMARTRISK (www.smartrisk.ca) today, The Economic Burden
of Injury in Canada. In fact, injury - from falls, traffic, drowning, suicide,
violence and other means - remains the leading cause of death for Canadians
aged one to 44, taking the lives of 13,667 people in 2004.
    The report shows how all Canadians pay a price for preventable injury,
whether or not they have been injured themselves or have suffered a loved one
having been hurt, permanently disabled or killed.
    "With this comprehensive report, we want to help policy makers and injury
prevention practitioners understand in detail where and who injury strikes so
they can develop and use effective prevention strategies to bring injury
numbers down," says Bob Baker, SMARTRISK President and CEO. "This report
builds on our groundbreaking 1998 study on the burden of unintentional injury
in Canada, using improved research methods, updated data and breakdowns by
province."
    But the economic cost of injury, including health care costs and lost
productivity, is not the entire story. The report shows the human toll as well
- 13,667 Canadians lost their lives to injury in 2004, another 5,023
individuals were permanently and totally disabled and 62,563 were left with a
permanent, partial disability. More than 210,000 Canadians spent at least one
night in hospital and another 3.1 million were treated in emergency for
injuries. Suicide accounted for the most deaths, followed by transport
incidents, then falls, while by far the greatest number of permanent
disabilities resulted from falls.
    SMARTRISK's new chairman of the board of directors, Edward (Ned) Levitt,
(www.gowlings.com/professionals/professional.asp?profid=1195) has direct and
tragic experience of injury's human cost. He lost his cherished teenage
daughter, Stacey, to a preventable injury. At the end of a summer day's work
as a lifeguard, the athletic and multi-talented 18-year-old was out for a run.
While listening to music over her headphones as many runners do, Stacey
inadvertently stepped into the path of a car and was killed, leaving behind
countless friends and family members to mourn her untimely passing. "I used to
think Stacey's death was nothing but a stupid accident," Mr. Levitt says. "Now
I know Stacy died of a preventable injury."
    The Burden's provincial figures reveal that Newfoundland has the lowest
burden of injury at $518 per capita, followed by Ontario at $551. Alberta
topped the provinces at $918 per capita, followed by Saskatchewan at $791.
SMARTRISK's injury prevention partners across Canada will be able to use the
report's data to better target their interventions to reduce injury rates.
    The bottom line is that injury is preventable through a combination of
educational programs, environmental modifications and enforcement mechanisms.
Canadians need not spend nearly $20 billion each year in health care costs and
lost productivity due to injury.
    SMARTRISK and its injury prevention partners call on both provincial and
federal governments to invest in preventing injury, to protect the lives and
health of their citizens and to reduce the tremendous economic burden of
injury borne by all Canadians. See the full report at www.smartrisk.ca.

    About SMARTRISK: SMARTRISK is a national, charitable organization that
runs a variety of programs dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives.





For further information:

For further information: and to arrange interviews, contact: Kathy
Blair, SMARTRISK, (416) 596-2715, kblair@smartrisk.ca


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