With the emergence of the Covid-19, three of the big provinces — Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec — experienced higher than expected death rates this year, Statistics Canada says.
As part of its ongoing effort to capture the effects of the pandemic on Canada’s population and its economy, the national statistical agency released provisional demographic stats for the first four months of 2020 (to May 2), which found that “excess mortality” was evident in Alberta, B.C. and Quebec since the beginning of the pandemic. Notably, the data does not include Ontario or the Yukon.
According to StatsCan, in the weeks since March 11 — when Covid-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) — death rates have been higher than expected in the three provinces for both males and females, “and appears to disproportionately affect those over the age of 85,” StatsCan said.
Some of these additional deaths can be directly attributed to Covid-19, while others may occur indirectly due to the pandemic’s effect on the health system.
Other sorts of deaths — such as those from car accidents and workplace accidents — were likely reduced due to the pandemic-driven lockdowns, which shut most businesses and sharply reduced traffic.
Nevertheless, StatsCan found that there were over 2,200 more deaths than usual in the three provinces.
In Quebec, excess mortality was evident for six weeks (starting in the week ending March 28). Over that period, there were 1,472 more deaths than usual, and there were 2,132 deaths attributed to Covid-19 over that period.
Alberta saw higher death rates for a seven-week period, starting in the week of Feb. 29, when it recorded 402 more deaths than usual, even though there were just 40 deaths attributed to Covid-19 during that period.
In B.C., excess mortality was observed starting March 15 and ending April 25, StatsCan reported. “Over this period, there were 372 more deaths than in any of the previous five years for those same weeks,” StatsCan said.
Over that period, there were 99 deaths publicly attributed to Covid-19, StatsCan said.
“While this suggests that there were more excess deaths over this period than reported deaths due to Covid-19, it should be noted that this may be due to other factors, such as changes in population composition or other underlying causes of mortality,” the agency noted.
For the other eight provinces and territories, StatsCan said that there was “no clear evidence of excess mortality” through the first four months of 2020.