Life expectancy fell for Quebecers in 2020 amid a surge in deaths tied to the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the province’s statistics agency.
The Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ), which released its findings Wednesday, reported that the average life expectancy from birth dropped for both men and women.
Last year, life expectancy for Quebec men stood at 80.6 years, a fall of five months compared to 2019. Meanwhile, the drop was even higher for women with a decrease of eight months for an average of 84 years.
In the last decade, life expectancy had risen in the province — but the recent downturn is one of exceptional magnitude, according to the agency.
“The decline in life expectancy in 2020 is a consequence of the increase in the number of deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ISQ said in a statement.
Quebec, which has been hard hit by the health crisis, has the highest death tally in the country attributable to the virus.
The pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 10,400 Quebecers to date. The province’s staggering death count represents roughly half of Canada’s fatalities tied to the pandemic.
In fact, the agency reported in January that number of deaths in the province jumped 10 per cent in 2020 due to COVID-19. The report found 74,550 people died last year in Quebec, which is 6,750 more than in 2019.
The ISQ says the dramatic rise in deaths began last March, when the province recorded its first pandemic-related fatality.
“The increase observed was particularly strong in April and May, and less pronounced at the end of the year,” the agency said in a statement.
The first wave tore through Quebec’s long-term care homes, which largely bore the brunt of COVID-19 last spring. A report by Quebec’s ombudswoman revealed the majority of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the province between March and June 2020 were among long-term residents — 3,890 in all.
— With files from The Canadian Press