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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email: thomas.storring@novascotia.ca

July 24, 2020
DEATH COUNTS AND EXCESS MORTALITY, JANUARY-MAY 2020

The first death attributed to COVID-19 in Canada was reported in British Columbia occurring on March 8, 2020. COVID-19 has caused the death of more than 8,000 people in Canada.

Statistics Canada has provided provisional information on deaths in Canada during the first 22 weeks of 2020. The data does not include all deaths that occurred during the reference period; note, Ontario and Quebec information is not fully complete for recent weeks. This includes deaths attributable to all causes; fluctuations from one week to the next may be attributable to many different causes of death.  A comparison of deaths in 2020 with the number of deaths reported in similar weeks in previous years allows estimation of 'excess' deaths above what is usually reported.  

The number of deaths reported in each week is represented below as a ratio of deaths per 1 million residents (population as of January 1 of the year).

Statistics Canada analysis is that there has been some degree of excess mortality in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec since March 11. For the other provinces there is "...no clear evidence of excess mortality over the same period".

For British Columbia excess mortality was over six-week period with an additional 386 more deaths than any of the previous five years for the same weeks. Excess deaths were more than the reported deaths to COVID-19 (99) for the same period. Since May, observed deaths have declined to be similar to previous years.

Excess mortality in Quebec was seen over the 10 weeks starting end of March with 3,384 more deaths in 2020 than the previous five years. According to Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), COVID-19 deaths in Quebec were 4,435 over same 10 weeks. Provisional death data will still be updated.

For Alberta, there have only been 2 weeks since the end of February with lower deaths that the figures for previous five years. Over this period, there have been 639 more deaths than the highest number from past five years. PHAC reported COVID-19 deaths was 146, suggesting some excess mortality could reflect other factors such as changes in population composition or increase in deaths due to other causes.

Ontario had 2,407 COVID-19 deaths up to first week of June and shows early sign of excess mortality in mid-April.


 

Source: Statistics Canada.  Table  13-10-0768-01   Weekly death counts, by age group and sex



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