Statistics Canada researchers, in partnership with those from the Public Health Agency of Canada, have co-authored a new research report detailing study findings about COVID-19 infections in the population, including reinfections, long-term symptoms and their impact on the Canadian adult population across 10 provinces.

As of June 2023, they state that the majority of Canadians have been infected with COVID-19 at least once. The study, entitled Experiences of Canadians with long-term symptoms following COVID-19, also notes that for many, symptoms persist for months, often impacting their ability to work and their quality of life overall.

They found that one in nine or 11.7 per cent of the total adult population reported experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19, defined as the presence of symptoms three or more months after infection that could not be explained by anything else.

Overall, also as of June 2023, 44.6 per cent had experienced one infection, 14.4 per cent had experienced two and 5.4 per cent had experienced three or more. “These numbers, however, are likely an underestimate,” they write, “as individuals may not always be aware that they are or have been infected.” 

Of those who continue to experience symptoms at the time the survey was conducted – they say 6.8 per cent of the Canadian adult population residing in private households in the country’s 10 provinces continue to experience long-term symptoms – 73.9 per cent had symptoms for more than six months, while 42.2 per cent had symptoms for a year or more. Among those dealing with long-term symptoms, more than one in five missed days of school or work, missing 24 days, on average. 

“Canadians reporting two known or suspected COVID-19 infections (25.4 per cent), were 1.7 times more likely to report prolonged symptoms than those reporting only one known or suspected infection,” they write, adding that those with three or more infections were 2.6 times more likely to experience long symptoms.