Hospital workers

Canada’s population is soaring thanks to robust immigration, yet life expectancy continues to fall, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The national statistical agency reported that life expectancy at birth fell for the third year in a row, dropping from 81.6 years to 81.3 years in 2022.

Life expectancy has now declined by a full year since 2019. The drop of 0.3 years in 2022 followed a 0.1 year decline in 2021, and a 0.6 year drop in 2020.

StatsCan said these changes in life expectancy at birth are driven by a number of factors, including both more deaths and deaths occurring at younger ages.

Overall, the number of deaths rose by 7.3% in 2022. The age-standardized mortality rate — which removes the effects of the population’s age structure over time — also increased, to 972.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from from 907.2 deaths the previous year.

Before the pandemic hit, the age-standardized mortality rate was 830.5 deaths, StatsCan said.

In 2022, cancer and heart disease remained the two leading causes of death, accounting for 41.8% of deaths, down from 44.3% in 2021.

However, StatsCan reported that deaths from Covid-19 were also at their highest level since the start of the pandemic, with 19,716 deaths from Covid-19 in 2022.

Most of the Covid-19 deaths came among Canadians aged 65 years and older, representing 91.4% of deaths from this cause.

Deaths due to influenza and pneumonia also jumped by 45.4% year over year in 2022 as pandemic-driven public health restrictions disappeared, but flu deaths were still 13.8% lower than before the pandemic struck, it noted.

Among younger age groups, an increase in deaths can be partly attributed to an increase in overdoses, suicides and homicides, StatsCan said.