COVID-19 triggered a decline in Canadian life expectancy, new data says

In 2020, the pandemic was the third leading cause of death in Canada, trailing behind cancer and heart disease. (Courtesy: Canva)


A new national health dashboard has revealed an unsettling truth, Canadian life expectancy has dropped dramatically due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the average life expectancy was around 82 years old, with women averaging at 84 and men at 80.

The Health of People in Canada Dashboard states the average health-adjusted life expectancy, a measure of how many healthy years Canadians have left, is currently at 69.7. In fact, life expectancy dropped 0.6 years from 2019 going into 2020, marking this as the largest annual decline.

In 2020, the pandemic was the third leading cause of death in Canada, trailing behind cancer and heart disease. The dashboard showed men were mostly impacted, with 38.2 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to women at 28.8 per 100,000. 

According to Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, “this dashboard will be an integral part of annual reporting on the health of people in Canada.”

“This dashboard provides a snapshot of the health of our population, while illustrating the wide range of health, socio-economic, and environmental factors that interact to keep us healthy and well,” Tam said in a public statement on Wednesday. 

In addition to the effects of the pandemic,  Tam says there was also a reduction in childhood vaccinations, worsening mental health in Canadians, a rise in infectious diseases and record high numbers of opioid-related deaths across the country. 

Her goal is to provide a better understanding of health amongst Canadians, to further help and guide public health authorities and improve response towards the health needs of local communities. 

“The pandemic highlighted the importance of health data and exposed long-standing gaps in the way we collect and share these data. My hope is that this dashboard can be a stepping stone on our way to a modernized health data ecosystem and transformed public health systems in Canada.” 



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