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Federal Election 2011

Background information

Backgrounders on our key issues

Find out more about more about lung health issues by reading/ printing out these useful backgrounders. Make copies and pass them along to your friends.

The Challenge of Lung Disease in Canada

Lung disease is a widespread and growing health concern in Canada, affecting the lives of millions of people in this country. Here are some facts that point to the serious impact of respiratory illnesses:

  • At least 6 million Canadians – one out of every five people – suffer from asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung cancer, sleep apnea or another respiratory disease.
  • Respiratory illness costs the Canadian economy an estimated $15 billion every year, including direct treatment costs and the indirect cost of death and disability.1
  • Over 2.8 million Canadians suffer from asthma.2 Canada has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, including 16% of children aged 4-11 and 8.3% of those age 12 and older.3
  • Over 750,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with COPD4; as many as 1.6 million more people may have COPD, but remain undiagnosed.5 The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030 COPD will be the third leading cause of death in the world.6
  • More women in Canada die each year from lung cancer than from breast cancer.7,8
  • Tuberculosis rates among Aboriginal peoples in Canada are more than 25 times higher than for non-Aboriginals.9
  • Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of lung disease in Canada.10 Yet each year more than 45,000 Canadians die as a result of tobacco-related diseases. This represents more than 20% of all Canadian deaths.11 That’s equivalent to a small city.
  • In 2008, air pollution in Canada was estimated to cause approximately 21,000 premature deaths and cost $10 billion annually.12

Canada needs co-ordinated national action to address the growing challenge of lung disease.

Vote for action on lung health!

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1    Health Canada, Economic Burden of Illness in Canada, 1998 (EBIC), [online], cited July, 2010, from < >.
2    Life and Breath: Respiratory Disease in Canada, 2007. Public Health Agency of Canada. p.41
3    2009 Canadian Community Health Survey from Stats Canada,
4    2009 Canadian Community Health Survey from Stats Canada,
5    COPD and Smoking survey. The Lung Association, 2007
6    World Health Organization. “World Health Statistics 2008”. WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data. France.
10    Eva M Makomaski Illing and Murray J Kaiserman. “Mortality Attributable to Tobacco Use in Canada and its Regions, 1994 and 1996”. Chronic Diseases in Canada, Volume 20, No. 3 – 2000. (
12    ”No Breathing Room: The National Illness Costs of Air Pollution”, Canadian Medical Association. August 2008.