Unknown Unknowns: We Need to Know How Many People Experience Imprisonment in Canada

Fiona G. Kouyoumdjian1, 2, *, Kathryn E. McIsaac3
1 Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
2 Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
3 Research Services, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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© 2017 Kouyoumdjian and McIsaac.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, David Braley Health Sciences Centre, 100 Main Street West, 5th Floor, Hamilton, Ontario, L8P1H6, Canada; E-mail: kouyouf@mcmaster.ca



Understanding the size of a population is necessary to define the burden of disease, evaluate opportunities to improve health, inform service planning and assess demographic trends over time.


In this article, we described available data on the number of admissions and number of people admitted to custody in Canada. We identified gaps in data, and described the potential value of these data for public health and health care purposes.


We recommend the systematic collection and dissemination of relevant data on this population in Canada.

Keywords: Prisoners, Prisons, Demography, Canada, Health, Population, Disease.