COVID-19 deaths lowered Canadians’ average life expectancy to 2013 levels: StatsCan

MISSISSAUGA (CANADA), May 5, 2021 People wearing face masks line up for COVID-19 tests at a COVID-19 assessment center in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, on May 5, 2021. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua) (Credit Image: © Zou Zheng/Xinhua via ZUMA Press)

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop in Canadians’ average life expectancy in 2020, new data released by Statistics Canada suggests.

The agency said on Tuesday that the more than 15,600 COVID-19-related deaths in 2020 contributed to an estimated reduction in life expectancy at birth (LEB) across Canada of 0.41 years last year.

Statistics Canada said when compared to the LEB in 2019 of 82.10 years, the decrease of 0.41 years would “reduce LEB to what it was six years earlier in 2013” of 81.68 years.

What’s more, Statistics Canada said not all provinces were affected equally.

In fact, the agency said Quebec is where the impact of COVID-19 on life expectancy was “most significant.”

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According to data compiled by Global News, by the end of 2020, Quebec had reported  a total of 8,226 COVID-19 related deaths.

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To date, the province has seen the most fatalities linked to the virus at 11,138.

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Statistics Canada said it estimates LEB in Quebec decreased by 0.84 years for females and 0.80 years for males as a result of the COVID-19 related deaths.

The agency also estimates Manitoba’s LEB decreased more than the rest of the country by 0.60 years.

Meanwhile, the life expectancy in Ontario and Alberta saw estimated reductions of 0.34 and 0.32 years, respectively.

According to Statistics Canada, the average age at death in Canada in 2019 was 76.5. However, the average age of those who died of COVID-19 in Canada last year was higher at 83.8.

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As of May 28, 65.7 per cent of COVID-19 related deaths in Canada were reported in those 80 years or older, according to data from Health Canada.

Statistics Canada said while life expectancy is “generally expected to increase over time,” this is not the first time the country has seen a decrease in the last few years.

“The opioid crisis, for example, let to a slight decrease in life expectancy at birth of 0.07 years in Canada in 2017,” the report reads. That is equivalent to approximately 25.5 days.

While it “can be difficult” to compare the impact of the pandemic on life expectancy around the world, Statistics Canada said the country’s life expectancy was lower than in some others, including the United States, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands and Austria.

However, it was higher than in Germany, Denmark, Finland, Australia and New Zealand.

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