Life expectancy fell in 2022 for 3rd year in a row: StatsCan

Statistics Canada says life expectancy for the average Canadian at birth has fallen for three straight years, from 82.3 years in 2019 to 81.3 in 2022.

The report on deaths shows New Brunswick saw the biggest decline in life expectancy in 2022, dropping to 79.8 years from 80.9 in 2021.

Saskatchewan’s life expectancy has fallen the most over the past three years combined, dropping a full two years to 78.5 in 2022 from 80.5 in 2019.

Life expectancy increases when there are fewer deaths in general, or when deaths tend to occur at older ages, or a combination of both. It declines when there are more deaths, when deaths occur at younger ages, or a combination.

Cancer and heart disease were the leading causes of death, accounting for 41.8 per cent of all deaths in 2022, while COVID-19 caused about six per cent of deaths.

More than 19,700 Canadians died of COVID-19 last year, the highest number since the pandemic began in 2020.

“This increase may in part be due to the exposure to new highly transmissible COVID-19 variants and the gradual return to normalcy (e.g., reduced restrictions and masking requirements),” the report read.

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The report shows the rate of COVID-19 deaths in Atlantic Canada was more than seven times higher last year (59.5 deaths per 100,000 population) compared with the year before (8.3 deaths).

In 2022, the agency said the increase in deaths among younger age groups can, in part, be attributable to deaths under investigation by a coroner or medical examiner, typically unintentional injuries such as substance-related toxicity deaths, suicides and homicides. 

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