COVID-19 lowered life expectancy in Quebec in 2020

In this Feb. 23, 2016, file photo, women run as the sun sets in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in 2020 has lowered life expectancy in Quebec, the Institut de la statistique revealed Wednesday.

In 2020, life expectancy at birth was 80.6 years for men compared to 81 years in 2019. Life expectancy at birth for women reached 84.0 years in 2020 compared to 84.7 years in 2019.

The authors of the Institut de la statistique du Québec report, Frédéric Fleury-Payeur and Ana Cristina Azeredo, are clear, saying these are "significant reductions."

To illustrate the importance of the declines, the Institut de la statistique points out that life expectancy at birth "tended to increase over the years."

As such, from 2010 to 2019, life expectancy increased by 2.3 months per year for men and 1.5 months per year for women.

NUMBER OF DEATHS

Also in 2020, Quebec recorded 74,550 deaths, an increase of 6,750 or 10 per cent over 2019.

In comparison, from 2010 to 2019, the average increase in deaths was less than 2 per cent.

For those who are still skeptical about the number of deaths related to COVID-19, the Institut de la statistique speaks of a "marked increase in the number of deaths in Quebec in 2020."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant influence on the mortality recorded in Quebec in 2020," the ISQ said, adding that "an increase of this magnitude is an exception."

In fact, "the marked increase in the number of deaths began at the end of March, when the first deaths related to COVID-19 were recorded," said the statistics institute. This increase was particularly strong in April and May.

Another significant fact: from March 22 to June 6, 2020, Quebec recorded 18,900 deaths, compared to 14,200 for the comparable weeks in 2019. This is an increase of 4,700 deaths, or 33 per cent.

To those who still compare COVID-19 to the flu, the Institute of Statistics pointed out that even when Quebec has experienced 'very severe' flu seasons in the past, "no peak in deaths has reached the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic observed in 2020."

DEFINITION

The ISQ provides the following definitions: current expectation measures the average number of years that a population could expect to live if it were subjected throughout its life to the mortality conditions of a given year or period.

"It does not represent the actual average life span of a generation, as this will depend on the evolution of mortality until the generation is completely extinguished," added the ISQ.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021.

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