Where you live in Winnipeg can predict how long you live
Life expectancy in Winnipeg varies greatly by neighbourhood, with at least one comparison showing a difference of 18 years.
A Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) report found the average Winnipegger (male or female) could expect to live about a year longer now than five years ago, with life expectancy rising to about 83.4 years for women and 79.4 years for men.
That roughly one-year increase for the five-year average of 2012 to 2016 improves upon a previous average taken from 2007 to 2011.
But the community health assessment released Wednesday also found life expectancy can be quite different in each neighbourhood. It notes the life expectancy for both men and women in Point Douglas South is about 18 years shorter than in Inkster West, based on the latest five-year average.
For men, that translates to a life expectancy of 68.6 years in Point Douglas South, compared with 86.8 years in Inkster West, the report says.
“That disparity is something we need to take a hard look at. The link to social and economic development is key,” said Gina Trinidad, the WRHA’s chief health operations officer for continuing care and community health services, in a written statement.
The report attributed much of the variation to education, employment and income, with those in high-income neighbourhoods generally enjoying better health. The assessment notes more than 50% of Point Douglas South residents lived in low-income households in 2016, according to Statistics Canada data.
During a press conference, Trinidad said the WRHA will work to reduce the disparity.
“We will be working … on really focusing on what that population needs, so that we can improve,” she said.
Trinidad said Access Centres should help address some of the social challenges involved, since they provide both health and social services.
Kate Kehler, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, said she hopes the information raises public awareness about the impact of poverty.
“The loss of life is tragic but then we also want people to (realize) it’s already costing them money to actually not resolve (poverty),” said Kehler. “People live in poor health for so long because of poverty that they are using the resources of our health system and that is the most expensive way (to address) poverty.”
Kehler believes the public would be better off encouraging governments to invest tax dollars in health care, education and other social programs to ensure greater supports for low-income Winnipeggers.
“We need to tell our governments that we want them to tax us so that the important social services are funded,” said Kehler.