Hospital workers

With a second wave of Covid-19 infections seemingly underway, new data from Statistics Canada reveals that the initial outbreak drove a sharply elevated death rate in the spring that tailed off by June.

In a new report, the national agency said that Canada reported more than 7,000 “excess deaths” between March and June — indicating that weekly death totals exceeded normal levels — but that the numbers had returned to historic norms after that.

“By July, the weekly number of deaths was within the range of what would be expected had there been no pandemic,” it said.

The higher-than-expected death rate between March and June was largely driven by 7,575 deaths that were attributed to Covid-19 during the time, StatsCan said.

As pandemic-related death numbers declined in June and July, so did the overall excess mortality.

This trend was evident in the provinces that were hardest-hit by the pandemic, StatsCan said. For instance, Quebec recorded an estimated 4,120 excess deaths between March and June, but no excess deaths in June or July.

A similar pattern was observed in Ontario.

StatsCan also noted that Covid-19 ranked as a leading cause of death in April and May, second only to cancer. The virus accounted for 15% of deaths in April and 12% in May, it reported.