Statistics Canada has published its most recent mortality figures for 2021, showing a one per cent increase in the number of deaths registered when compared to 2020 figures. “While male deaths increased by 2.5 per cent, female deaths declined by 0.5 per cent when compared with 2020,” they write.

The largest increase in male deaths occurred among those between 45 and 64 years of age. These increased 4.2 per cent, compared to female deaths in this age group, which declined by 0.2 per cent. “Among those aged 65 and older, male deaths increased by 1.7 per cent while female deaths decreased by 0.9 per cent.” 

Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories all recorded a seven per cent increase in the number of deaths reported in 2021. Quebec reported the largest decline of 7.1 per cent, followed by Manitoba (deaths declined 3.3 per cent) and Nunavut where deaths declined 1.9 per cent.

They say cancer was the leading cause of death in Canada in 2021 (26.6 per cent of all deaths reported), followed by heart disease which claimed 17.7 per cent of those who died during the year. “Compared with 2020, these numbers represent an increase of two per cent in cancer deaths and 1.6 per cent in deaths attributable to heart disease. Cancer and heart disease were the top two leading causes of death for both women and men in 2021.” 

Accidental deaths rose in 2021, driven by fatal overdoses, making accidental death the third leading cause of death in 2021. Drug overdoses – identified as accidental poisonings – rose by 32.9 per cent during the year. “In 2021, males accounted for over seven of every 10 deaths attributed to accidental poisoning,” they write. Deaths due to an accidental fall increased by 6.1 per cent.

COVID-19, finally, is identified as the fourth leading cause of death in Canada in 2021, despite the number of deaths attributed to the virus declining during the year, from 16,313 in 2020 to 14,466 in 2021.