Life expectancy for New Brunswickers falls for first time in decades

·2 min read
The life expectancy for New Brunswickers born between 2017 and 2019 is 80 years and eight months.
The life expectancy for New Brunswickers born between 2017 and 2019 is 80 years and eight months.

(Christian Milette/Radio-Canada - image credit)

For the first time in decades, the life expectancy of New Brunswickers has decreased, according to the New Brunswick Health Council.

The life expectancy for New Brunswickers born between 2017 and 2019 is 80 years and eight months.

That's down four months from the previous life expectancy estimate for New Brunswickers of 81 years.

The life expectancy in the province is also 16 months shorter than the Canadian average of 82 years.

"For the first time we're seeing a reduction in life expectancy," said Stéphane Robichaud, CEO of the council.

"It's been increasing for many decades and now for the first time we're seeing a reduction."

Preventable deaths increase

Robichaud said the province is suffering both from an increase in deaths that could have been preventable (lifestyle changes to stop a disease from developing) or treatable (could not be stopped, but could be treated.)

"We know New Brunswick has historically fared poorly on [preventable,] but on treatment we used to to compare fairly favourably with the rest of the country, but that has changed in recent years," said Robichaud.

Robichaud said that can be partly attributed to resident's lifestyle choices.

"So we own that as New Brunswickers," said Robichaud.

CBC
CBC

"Yes, we can do better from a health service prevention perspective. But elements like obesity, hypertension, New Brunswick have often talked about how in one generation we've made significant shifts [in the wrong direction] in our nutrition and physical activity".

Robichaud said an aging population and the distribution of healthcare services is also an issue.

He said the decision to place services is often not made based on need, but on political concerns.

And while it may be easy to simply blame politicians, Robichaud said that's too simplistic.

"I'll tell you, the moment a decision is being made as to a service and it affects services in their area, everybody is putting pressure to get that service or whatever it is," said Robichaud.

"We all need to put a bit of water in our wine. When it comes to that, it's not as simple as just saying politicians because politicians react to the pressure from the public."