Administrative databases in the Canadian health sector do not contain socio-economic information. To facilitate the monitoring of social inequalities for health planning, this study proposes a material and social deprivation index for Canada. After explaining the concept of deprivation, we describe the methodological aspects of the index and apply it to the example of premature mortality (i.e. death before the age of 75). We illustrate variations in deprivation and the links between deprivation and mortality nationwide and in different geographic areas including the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver; other CMAs; average-size cities, referred to as census agglomerations (CAs); small towns and rural communities; and five regions of Canada, namely Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia. Material and social deprivation and their links to mortality vary considerably by geographic area. We comment on the results as well as the limitations of the index and its advantages for health planning.