About injuries

Why pay attention to injuries?

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 1 to 44, and for Canadians aged 45 to 64, injuries are the third leading cause of death.1 Moreover, injuries are among the top causes of hospitalizations for Canadians of all ages. 2

On average, over 15,000 Canadians are killed and more than 230,000 are hospitalized for serious injuries every year. In fact, every hour, 427 people in Canada suffer a preventable injury as a result of a fall, a motor vehicle crash, a fire, poisoning, drowning, or other activities. Many of those who survive are left with disabilities, both physical and emotional, with preventable injuries resulting in more than 60,000 Canadians either partially or permanently disabled. The cost of injury and all the damage that attaches to it is astronomical. With a $26 billion price tag, injury is a huge issue for all Canadians in societal and health care terms. 3

The numbers around the cost of injury to our society on a personal and economic level are clear, yet the neglected epidemic of injury, redefined as a preventable disease, is still not well understood.

Figure 1. Summary of findings from the Cost of Injury in Canada report3 

Why are Canadians at risk?

Injuries are often perceived as "accidents" that can be tacitly accepted. As such, injury prevention initiatives have often not received the attention that they deserve.  Canadians live in a world full of risks, yet they may not have the knowledge and inspiration to recognize and tackle these risks in a safe manner. A force is needed to call attention to the fact that injuries are not acts of fate; they don’t have to happen and that the majority of injuries are predictable and preventable.

Preventing injuries requires a leader with a comprehensive approach

Parachute is aiming for an injury-free Canada, through bringing attention to the issue of preventable injury at various levels and helping Canadians reduce their risks of injury and enjoy long lives lived to the fullest.

In order to accomplish this, a comprehensive approach must be taken that targets the various aspects this complex public health problem. The Spectrum of Prevention, developed by Larry Cohen, offers a framework that can be utilized to accomplish this task.  The spectrum includes multiple strategies that together form a comprehensive approach to public health issues, such as injury.  Each separate band focuses on a different strategic area that must be targeted in order for health changes to be made.  The work of Parachute will be focused within each of these strategies in order to ensure that we are offering Canadians a comprehensive approach to the problem of injury. 

Figure 2. The Spectrum of Prevention 4

What is an injury?

An injury is defined as the physical damage to the body from a sudden exposure to energy at levels that exceed the normal human tolerance or as a result of the lack of one or more vital elements, such as oxygen.5 Injuries can be unintentional such as when someone is hurt from a fall or burn or in a traffic collision. Intentional injuries result from a deliberate act of harm to oneself or another such as suicide or murder. 

What are the most common injuries in Canada?

As can be observed in the figure below, the three leading causes of unintentional injury-related deaths and unintentional injury-related hospitalizations for Canadians are falls, transport incidents, and poisonings. 

Figure 3. Number of deaths, hospitalizations, emergency room visits and related disaibility cases by cause, Canada, 2010 from the Cost of Injury in Canada report 3

Vulnerable Populations

In Canada there are various vulnerable populations who experience unacceptably high rates of injury.  These populations include:

Children: Preventable injuries kill more Canadian children than any single disease.6

Youth: Injury kills more young people than all other causes combined, accounting for over 70 per cent of all youth deaths.6

Seniors: Seniors comprise only 14 per cent of the Canadian population7, but account for 44 per cent of all injury hospitalizations.8 The number of seniors experiencing injury is expected to rise exponentially as the population ages.

Aboriginal Peoples: Out of any identifiable group, Canadian Aboriginals experience the highest suicide rate, and the injury death rate among Aboriginal teens is almost four times that of Canadians overall.9

Related Content


1Public Health Agency of Canada. (2013). Table: Leading Causes of Death, Canada, 2008, males and females combined, counts (age-specific death rate per 100,000). Ottawa, ON.

2Public Health Agency of Canada. (2013). Table: Leading Causes of Hospitalizations, Canada, 2008, males and females combined, counts (age-specific hospitalization rate per 100,000). Ottawa, ON.

3 Parachute. (2015). The Cost of Injury in Canada. Parachute: Toronto, ON. 

4 The Prevention Institute. The Spectrum of Prevention: Developing a comprehensive approach to injury prevention. Source: http://www.preventioninstitute.org/component/jlibrary/article/id-105/127.html

5 World Health Organization. World report on child injury prevention: summary. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2008.

6 Statistics Canada. (2012). Leading Causes of Deaths in Canada, 2009, CANSIM Tables 102–0561 and 102–0562.

7 Employment and Social Development Canada. (2012). Canadians in Context – Aging Population. Retrieved from: http://well-being.esdc.gc.ca/misme-iowb/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=33

8 Parachute. (2015). Electronic Resource Allocation Tool (ERAT): Present value of Life-Time Costs of 2010 Unintentional Injuries, Canada. [Unpublished Data File]. Toronto, Canada.

9 Health Canada. (2001). Unintentional and Intentional Injury Profile for Aboriginal People in Canada. Retrieved from: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/sc-hc/H35-4-8-1999-eng.pdf

Last Updated: August 25, 2015