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Diabetes in Ontario

Estimated Prevalence and Cost of Diabetes

Prevalence (1)



Diabetes (type 1 + type 2 diagnosed + type 2 undiagnosed)  

2,346,000 / 15%

2,953,000 / 17%

Diabetes (type 1 and type 2 diagnosed)  

1,643,000 / 10%

2,067,000 / 12%

Diabetes (type 1)

5-10% of diabetes prevalence

Diabetes (type 1 + type 2 diagnosed + type 2 undiagnosed) and prediabetes combined

4,713,000 / 30%

5,642,000 / 33%

Increase in diabetes (type 1 and type 2 diagnosed), 2022-2032


Direct cost to the health care system

$1.7 billion

$2.1 billion

Out-of-pocket cost per year (2)

Type 1 diabetes on multiple daily insulin injections


Type 1 diabetes on insulin pump therapy 


Type 2 diabetes on oral medication


Impact of Diabetes

  • Among Ontarians (1):
    • 30% live with diabetes or prediabetes, and
    • 10% live with diagnosed diabetes, a figure that climbs to 15% when cases of undiagnosed type 2 diabetes are included.
  • Diabetes complications are associated with premature death (3). Diabetes can reduce lifespan by five to 15 years (3). It is estimated that the all-cause mortality rate among Canadians living with diabetes is twice as high as the all-cause mortality rate for those without diabetes (4).
  • People with diabetes are over three times more likely to be hospitalized with cardiovascular disease, 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with end-stage renal disease, and almost 20 times more likely to be hospitalized for a non-traumatic lower limb amputation compared to the general population (3).
  • The prevalence of clinically relevant depressive symptoms among people living with diabetes is approximately 30% (6). Individuals with depression have a 40% – 60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (6).
  • Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in people of working age (7). Vision loss is associated with increased falls, hip fractures, and a 4-fold increase in mortality (7). The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy is approximately 25.1% in Canada (8).
  • Foot ulceration affects an estimated 15%–25% of people with diabetes in their lifetime (9). One-third of amputations in 2011–2012 were performed on people reporting a diabetic foot wound (10).
  • The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not well understood, but interaction between genetic and environmental factors are likely involved (11). Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of individual, social, environmental, and genetic factors (11).
    • Certain populations are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as those of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, or South Asian descent, those who are older, have a lower level of income or education, are physically inactive, or are living with overweight or obesity (11).
    • The age-standardized prevalence rates for diabetes are 14.5% among people of South Asian descent, 12.3% among people of African descent, 8.5% among people of East/Southeast Asian descent, and 7.5% among people of Arab/West Asian descent.
    • Diabetes rates are 7.6 times higher in First Nations People off reserve and  2.7 times higher in Métis than in the non-Indigenous population, a situation compounded by barriers to care for Indigenous peoples (12,13). In addition to the risk factors that impact all people in Canada, the ongoing burden of colonization continues to influence Indigenous Peoples’ health.
    • The prevalence of diabetes among adults in the lowest income groups is 5.4 times that of adults in the highest income group (13).
    • Adults who have not completed high school have a diabetes prevalence 5.5 times that of adults with a university education (13).
  • For many Canadians with diabetes, adherence to treatment is affected by cost. The majority of Canadians with diabetes pay more than 3% of their income or over $1,500 per year for prescribed medications, devices, and supplies out-of-pocket (2,14).
  • Among Canadians with type 2 diabetes, 33% do not feel comfortable disclosing their disease to others (2).
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may affect mood and behaviour, and can lead to emergency situations if left untreated (11).

Policy, Programs, and Services Related to Diabetes

  • In November 2021, the government expanded public funding of intermittently-scanned continuous glucose monitoring systems (isCGM) to include Freestyle Libre 2 for all Ontario Drug Benefit clients who use insulin and have a valid prescription from their physician or nurse practitioner.
  • In September 2019, the government announced public funding for intermittently-scanned continuous glucose monitoring systems (isCGM) for all Ontario Drug Benefit clients who use insulin and have a valid prescription from their physician or nurse practitioner.
  • In November 2017, the government announced funding of $8 million over three years and continues to fund offloading devices to help improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of amputation for Ontarians with diabetic foot ulcers.
  • OHIP+ provides more than 4,400 drug products at no cost for Ontarians 24 years or younger who are not covered by a private plan.
  • Seniors 65 years or older, and individuals/families with high-prescription drug costs relative to their income, may receive coverage for prescription drugs through Ontario Drug Benefit and Trillium Drug Program; deductibles and co-pays apply.
  • The Monitoring for Health Program provides assistance with the cost of blood glucose testing supplies for Ontarians who use insulin or have gestational diabetes and have no other coverage for their supplies. The maximum reimbursement for strips and lancets is $920 per year.
  • The Insulin Syringes for Seniors Program provides $170 annual grant to help with the cost of pen needles/syringes for seniors 65 years or older who use insulin.


Ontario faces unique challenges in preventing type 2 diabetes and meeting the needs of those living with diabetes:

  • Non-modifiable risk factors of type 2 diabetes include age, sex, and ethnicity (11).
    • 16.7% of Ontarians are over 65 years old (15). The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age (11). Older adults living with diabetes are more likely to be frail and progressive frailty has been associated with reduced function and increased mortality (16).
    • Adult men are more at risk of type 2 diabetes compared to adult women (11).
    • Approximately 32.2% of Ontarians self-identify as being of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, or South Asian descent (15). These groups are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (11).
    • There are 374,395 Indigenous Peoples in Ontario, who face significantly higher rates of diabetes and adverse health consequences than the overall population (17).
  • Ontario has high rates of individual-level modifiable risk factors (18):
    • 48.4% of adults and 58.4% of youth are physically inactive;
    • 35.2% of adults are living with overweight, 28.4% of adults are living with obesity, and 21.7% of youth are living with overweight or obesity;
    • 78% of adults are not eating enough fruits and vegetables; and
    • 11.6% of adults are current tobacco smokers.
  • Factors related to the social determinants of health and that can influence the rate of individual-level modifiable risk factors among Ontarians include income, education, food security, the built environment, social support, and access to health care (3).
    • Ontario has one of the highest prevalence of low income among all provinces, based on low-income cut-offs after tax (19). People with diabetes earning a low income may face financial constraints that can make their disease more difficult to manage.
    • People living with diabetes in Ontario continue to face high-out-of-pocket costs, to manage their diabetes effectively. This is especially the case for those who do not have coverage for their diabetes medications, supplies, or devices through Ontario’s publicly funded programs or private plan. However, even with coverage, many Ontarians face significant out-of-pocket costs due to high public drug program deductibles (e.g., Trillium Drug Program), lack of public funding for diabetes devices (e.g., Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems) and essential diabetes supplies (e.g., insulin pen needles), and/or annual limits on coverage through private plans.

Diabetes Canada’s Recommendations to the Government of Ontario

  1. Implement Diabetes 360°
  • Implement a provincial diabetes strategy that aligns with the Diabetes 360° framework.
  • Support the F/P/T process to establish a nationwide diabetes framework.
  1. Expand access: Put patients at the centre of policy decisions
  • Eliminate barriers, including age discrimination, to access evidence-based, personalized diabetes treatments, including diabetes medications, devices, and supplies.
  • Provide equitable access to continuous glucose monitoring systems (isCGM & rtCGM) according to Diabetes Canada’s reimbursement recommendations.  
  1. Protect students with diabetes
  1. Prevent amputations
  • Implement health policies that support the prevention and management of diabetes foot complications and reduce the risk of lower limb amputations.


  1. Canadian Diabetes Cost Model. Ottawa: Diabetes Canada; 2016.
  2. 2015 Report on Diabetes – Driving Change. Ottawa: Diabetes Canada; 2015.
  3. Diabetes in Canada: Facts and figures from a public health perspective [Internet]. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2011 p. 126. Available from:
  4. Twenty Years of Diabetes surveillance using the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System [Internet]. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2019 Nov. Available from:
  5. Hux J, Booth J, Slaughter P, Laupacis A. Diabetes in Ontario: An ICES Practice Atlas. Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences; 2003 Jun.
  6. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, Robinson DJ, Coons M, Haensel H, Vallis M, Yale J-F. Diabetes and Mental Health. Can J Diabetes. 2018 Apr;42 Suppl 1:S130–41.
  7. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, Altomare F, Kherani A, Lovshin J. Retinopathy. Can J Diabetes. 2018 Apr;42 Suppl 1:S210–6.
  8. Thomas RL, Halim S, Gurudas S, Sivaprasad S, Owens DR. IDF Diabetes Atlas: A review of studies utilising retinal photography on the global prevalence of diabetes related retinopathy between 2015 and 2018. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2019 Oct 23;107840.
  9. Singh N, Armstrong DG, Lipsky BA. Preventing Foot Ulcers in Patients With Diabetes. JAMA. 2005 Jan 12;293(2):217–28.
  10. Denny K, Lawand C, Perry SD. Compromised Wounds in Canada. Healthc Q [Internet]. 2014 May 16 [cited 2021 Oct 12];17(1). Available from:
  11. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee. Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diabetes [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2019 Oct 28];42. Available from:
  12. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, Crowshoe L, Dannenbaum D, Green M, Henderson R, Hayward MN, et al. Type 2 Diabetes and Indigenous Peoples. Can J Diabetes. 2018 Apr;42 Suppl 1:S296–306.
  13. Public Health Agency of Canada, Pan - Canadian Public Health Network, Statistics Canada, Canadian Institute of Health Information. Pan-Canadian Health Inequalities Data Tool, 2017 Edition [Internet]. Public Health Agency of Canada. 2019 [cited 2019 Oct 31]. Available from:
  14. The burden of out-of-pocket costs for Canadians with diabetes. Ottawa: Diabetes Canada; 2011.
  15. Ontario [Province] and Canada [Country] (table). Census Profile. 2016 Census [Internet]. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2017 Nov. Report No.: Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001. Available from:
  16. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, Meneilly GS, Knip A, Miller DB, Sherifali D, Tessier D, et al. Diabetes in Older People. Can J Diabetes. 2018 Apr;42 Suppl 1:S283–95.
  17. Aboriginal Peoples Highlight Tables, 2016 Census [Internet]. Statistics Canada; 2017 Oct [cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from:
  18. Statistics Canada. Health characteristics, annual estimates [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2021 Oct 20]. Available from:
  19. Table  11-10-0136-01   Low income statistics by economic family type [Internet]. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2019 Dec. Available from:

Diabetes in Ontario

This backgrounder provides key statistics about diabetes in Ontario, the impact of diabetes on the population of Ontario, and Diabetes Canada’s recommendations to the Government of Ontario to address diabetes prevention and management.