MRO Magazine

Northern Canadians face higher risk of accident death


March 21, 2011
By PEM Magazine

A person living in Northern Canada is much more likely to die in an accident than a resident of Southern Canada, according to the latest map in the Conference Board of Canada’s Here, the North series, An Accident Waiting to Happen.

“Urban and suburban areas are generally safer than rural areas. There is, however, a major difference on the two sides of Canada’s North–South boundary,” said Gilles Rheaume, Vice-President, Public Policy.

“We cannot say, for certain, why accidental death rates are so much higher in the North. Treacherous roads, severe weather conditions, hazardous jobs, and traditional activities such as hunting, fishing and trapping in remote areas could be factors. The relative lack of doctors and the long distances between Northern communities could also contribute to the higher rate of death from unintentional injuries.”

Deaths caused by “unintentional injury” (as defined by Statistics Canada) can be the result of various types of incidents—motor vehicle collisions, falls, drowning, burns, poisoning.


In the most extreme example, a person in northeastern Manitoba is nearly six times as likely to die in an accident as a person living in the Montreal suburb of Laval.


 The five census divisions with the highest rates of death from unintentional injury (per 100,000 population) are:

  • Burntwood/Churchill (Northern Manitoba) – 84
  • Nunavik (Northern Quebec) – 78
  • Athabasca/Keewatin/Mamawetan (Northern Saskatchewan) – 72
  • Northeast Health Region (Northern British Columbia) – 69
  • Nunavut – 62

Most Northern census divisions have more than 45 accidental deaths per 100,000 population. Yukon has 59 such deaths per 100,000 population, followed by the Northwest Territories (54), Northern Newfoundland and Labrador (51), Northern Alberta (one census division with 54 and another with 49) and Northern Ontario (two census divisions with 49 and 47 deaths respectively).

In contrast, the five census divisions with the lowest rate of death from unintentional injuries are in Southern Canada – Laval (15 accidental deaths per 100,000 population), Richmond, BC (16), Montreal (16), Ottawa (17) and Halton Region (18). 

An Accident Waiting to Happen is part of an ongoing Centre for the North series, which illustrates similarities and differences between Canada’s North and South and among Northern regions. The Centre for the North is a Conference Board of Canada program of research and dialogue. Its main purpose is to work with Aboriginal leaders, businesses, governments, communities, educational institutions, and other organizations to provide insights into how sustainable prosperity can be achieved in the North. Over its five-year mandate, the Centre for the North will help to establish and implement strategies, policies and practices to transform that vision into reality.