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Serious crime rates, alcohol consumption rise in Alberni�s health profile

Alberni Valley Times - 9/23/2017

Port Alberni's Local Health Area (LHA) has the highest serious crime rates among all Island Health LHAs.

According to Alberni's 2016 LHA profile , presented to Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) board members by Dr. Paul Hasselback, medical health officer for the Central Island, Alberni's serious violent crime rate per 1,000 population was 4.1, compared to 2.2 for Island Health and 3.1 for B.C.

Alberni recorded 173.9 non-cannabis drug offences (rate per 1,000 population) compared with 154.5 for Island Health and 170.3 for B.C.

Alberni's LHA accounts for Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet. As of 2016 the Alberni LHA represented 3.9 per cent (30,221 people) of Island Health's total population of 775,500.

Alcohol consumption per capita is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average, as are the rates of alcohol and tobacco related hospitalizations.

Alberni's LHA saw 53.9 alcohol-related deaths (per 100,000), compared with 24.6 for B.C. Illicit drugs accounted for 0.9 deaths in Alberni's LHA, lower than Island Health's 9.4 and B.C's 7.2.

"We know that we have an ongoing issue with alcohol and drug use and our rates continue to rise," Hasselback said. "The increase that we're seeing in the alcohol and illicit drug hospitalizations and mortality are of concern."

Read: Port Alberni is B.C.'s low-income capital

On average, the population of Alberni LHA is younger than Island Health and older than B.C. with an average age of 43.8 years. The 65 plus population makes up around 22 per cent.

The Alberni LHA population is expected to increase by 3.8 per cent over the next 10 years, seeing the most growth in the 65-74 age group and the 75 plus age group, while the 0-19 and 45-65 age group are expected to decline.

Over the next 20 years, the 75 plus population of Alberni is expected to double.

Life expectancy in the Alberni LHA is about three years lower than Island Health and B.C. at 79. Women's life expectancy in the Alberni LHA is 81.9 whereas men's expectancy is sitting at 76.5.

"We're seeing less progress from males," Hasselback said. "Guys, it really is time to start talking about taking care of male health… that's perhaps becoming a common theme, and not just here."

Mothers under 20 years old in the Alberni LHA, consist of 96 (per 1,000 live births) compared with 32.4 for Island Health and 22.2 for B.C.

"[The number of young mothers] has been relatively high in the Alberni Valley for a very long time. What we are seeing are significant reductions in that proportion happening in most other jurisdictions, where it's been steady and constant here," Hasselback said. "I'm trying to encourage a discussion on why is this continuing, why aren't we seeing those reductions."

Compared to Island Health and B.C., a lower proportion of Alberni adult population have completed post-secondary education; however, high school graduation rates have been increasing steadily over the past five years and are similar to Island Health.

"High school graduation rates have gone up considerably," Hasselback said. "This is a reflection of excellent work done at SD70, they do need to be commended."

Mood and anxiety disorders land the highest among chronic disease prevalence rates, per 1,000 individuals, for Alberni, seeing 300.7 compared with 267 for B.C.

The most common cause of mortality in Alberni are motor vehicle accidents at 1.93, compared with 0.90 for Island Health and 1 for B.C.

"It's not one cause of death, it is many causes of death," Hasselback said. "The highest is motor vehicle crashes…that's not atypical for a rural area but it does not mean that it should be considered acceptable."


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