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Average life expectancy in Canada declines for third year in a row, study shows

Life expectancy in Canada has declined for the third year in a row, according to a new report.

The average Canadian lifespan was 81.3 years in 2022, 81.6 in 2021 and 82.3 in 2020.

In British Columbia, the average life expectancy increased fractionally: it was 81.46 in 2022 and 81.41 in 2021, but 82.2 in 2020.

Statistics Canada said there were 334,623 deaths in Canada in 2022, an increase of 7.3 per cent compared with 2021.

Every province and territory saw an increase in deaths, except Nunavut.

<who> Photo credit: 123RF

Cancer and heart disease were the main causes of mortality in 2022, accounting for 41.8 per cent of all deaths.

COVID-19 was next on the list of causes, followed by accidents, strokes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, diabetes, flu/pneumonia, Alzheimer’s disease and liver disease.

The majority – 68.2 per cent – of all deaths in Canada in 2022 were attributable to one of the above causes.

Deaths from COVID-19, meanwhile, increased last year: from 14,466 in 2021 to 19,716 in 2022.

“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),” StatCan explained.

Most (91.4 per cent) COVID-19 deaths in 2022 were among those aged 65 and older.

StatCan said the increase in deaths among younger people last year, meanwhile, could be partly explained by deaths under investigation by a coroner or medical examiner, which typically include suicides, homicides and drug toxicity deaths.

"Changes in life expectancy at birth in Canada are due to a number of factors," the agency explained.

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

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