Urban Aboriginal mobility in Canada: examining the association with health care utilization

Soc Sci Med. 2012 Dec;75(12):2420-4. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.09.020. Epub 2012 Oct 1.


In recent decades, Indigenous peoples across the globe have become increasingly urbanized. Growing urbanization has been associated with high rates of geographic mobility between rural areas and cities, as well as within cities. In Canada, over 54 percent of Aboriginal peoples are urban and change their place of residence at a higher rate than the non-Aboriginal population. High rates of mobility may affect the delivery and use of health services. The purpose of this paper is to examine the association between urban Aboriginal peoples' mobility and conventional (physician/nurse) as well as traditional (traditional healer) health service use in two distinct Canadian cities: Toronto and Winnipeg. Using data from Statistics Canada's 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, this analysis demonstrates that mobility is a significant predisposing correlate of health service use and that the impact of mobility on health care use varies by urban setting. In Toronto, urban newcomers were more likely to use a physician or nurse compared to long-term residents. This was in direct contrast to the effect of residency on physician and nurse use in Winnipeg. In Toronto, urban newcomers were less likely to use a traditional healer than long-term residents, indicating that traditional healing may represent an unmet health care need. The results demonstrate that distinct urban settings differentially influence patterns of health service utilization for mobile Aboriginal peoples. This has important implications for how health services are planned and delivered to urban Aboriginal movers on a local, and potentially global, scale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Human Migration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manitoba
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ontario
  • Population Groups*
  • Urban Population*