7 News Archive
Don District death rate still highest in city

By Don Weitz
Seven News, August 7, 1976

Death rates in the ward are still climbing, particularly in the Don District. Death rates in the Don are typically much higher than the city’s average and have been during the past four years. This depressing message is communicated by the most recent death statistics for 1975, released by Toronto’s Public Health Department.

While the city’s total average death rate for 1975 is 8.3, it represents a very slight decrease from 8.7 in 1974. Except for Regent Park South, all death rates in the Don are much higher. South of Carlton has consistently experienced the highest death rates in the Don and probably in the city as well during the past four years; they’re 3-4 times higher than the city average! The southern part of South of Carlton has a 1975 death rate almost 60% higher than the one in 1974. For 1974-75, the only decreases in Don death rates occurred in Regent Park South (22% drop) and the northern part of South of Carlton (4.4% drop).

The city’s average infant death rate increased slightly by .4%, but in Regent Park South infant deaths increased dramatically by 90% – from one to two deaths. While there were no recorded deaths in South of Queen and South of Carlton in 1975, the infant death rates in Regent Park North and the northern part of South of Carlton were 1-1/2 – 2-1/2 times higher than the city average.

The statistics on the major causes of death in the Don District during 1975 show some alarming information.

Heart disease continues to be the No. 1 killer. The city average is 287.5 deaths per 100,000 people, but the death rates are much higher in the Don, except for Regent Park South. Again, South of Carlton had the highest death rates for heart disease – 2 to 5 times higher than the city average! In 1975, 80 people died from heart disease in South of Carlton, 45 of whom lived in the southern part of this community.

Cancer was the No. 2 killer. The city average death rate was 182; except for Regent Park South, other communities in the Don had much higher rates. South of Carlton and Regent Park North had the highest rates.

Of course, alcoholism together with its many serious complications and deaths continue to plague the city, particularly the Don. In the city, the death rate for alcoholism has almost doubled during the past two years – 6.6 in 1974 to 11.5 in 1975. Although Regent Park North had no recorded deaths from alcoholism in 1975, all the other communities did, and they all were alarmingly higher than the city average – 13 to 20 times higher! Again, the northern part of South of Carlton had the highest rate, 238.5. The rates are lower for alcoholic cirrhosis (liver complications), but the overall pattern is the same.

Also, respiratory diseases continue to take a heavy toll. For example, pneumonia accounted for an average of 36.1 deaths in the city generally. But this was surpassed by South of Queen, Regent Park North and South of Carlton where the death rates were 3 to almost 6 times greater! Unfortunately, T.B. is again on the rise – primarily in ‘skid row’ areas like South of Carlton, where 3 people died from TB in 1975. This accounted for the highest TB rate in the city – 50 times greater than the city average!

Finally, suicide and homicide rates in the Don are still much higher than those in the city. In 1975, a total out of a total of 128 suicides recorded 13 or slightly over 10% occurred in the Don. Once again, South of Carlton had the highest suicide rates – 102.2 and 69.7 – which was 4 to 6 times greater than the city average! In fact, the 1975 suicide rate in the northern part of South of Carlton was exactly what it was in 1972, but 3 times higher than the rate in 1974.

This article was published in Seven News, Volume 7, Number 4, August 7, 1976

Related Topics: Community HealthDeath & DyingToronto/Cabbagetown