Pandemic lowered life expectancy

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COVID-19 pandemic lowered life expectancy in Canada in 2020. Statistics Canada published data recently. Deaths related to coronavirus caused a five-month decrease in life expectancy at birth last year. It potentially puts Canada at a the lowest level for the last seven years.

The findings however, regarding how exactly pandemic lowered life expectancy, varied. The life expectancy in Quebec dropped almost a year, while the Atlantic provinces and the territories did not experience any change. Quebec had more than half of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths last year. Some experts believe that life expectancy does not really showcase the long-term effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

Marisa Creatore is a associate scientific director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and an assistant professor in public health at the University of Toronto. She believes that Statistics Canada’s numbers are not the reason to panic. She believe that it is unlikely that the mortality rates would continue for the whole lifespan of a baby born today. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, so we would expect that the mortality rates would be a little bit higher right now,” she said.

Other Health Crises in Canada

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 25,700 people have died in Canada. Experts suggest that the hit to life expectancy helps put losses in context. Moreover, it is not the first time that Canada has experience a health crisis that affected life expectancy at birth. The opiod crisis in 2017 lowered the life expectancy at birth by 0.07 years. From January 2016 to September 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported over 19,300 deaths related to opioid.  Canada also experience HIV epidemic. It caused the deaths of around 18,300 people from 1987 to 2011. COVID-19 caused a lot more deaths in a very short period of time. Victims of the virus were much older on average than during other health crises.