OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says more than 19,000 Canadians lost their lives during COVID-19 than would have been expected had the pandemic never happened.
The report highlights the deadly toll COVID-19 has taken directly and indirectly on Canadian lives.
According to provisional data, approximately 19,488 more Canadians died between March 2020 and July 2021 than would have been expected.
That's 5.2 per cent more deaths than if the pandemic never happened.
During that time frame, Statistics Canada says that while 25,465 people died as a direct consequence of contracting the virus, the pandemic also delayed medical procedures and led to a rise in substance use, which could also have contributed to the number of deaths.
On the flip side, some lives may have been spared by other causes, including public health measures that prevented influenza from spreading as usual last year.
The numbers don't reflect all the deaths that occurred as some are still being investigated, so the data may under-represent the true number of deaths attributed to certain causes, including suicides.
They have also been adjusted to account for changes in the population, such as aging.
The highest number of deaths happened in the spring and autumn of 2020.
There was not a significant number of extra deaths between mid-January 2021 and the end of July 2021, according to the agency, despite the fact that COVID-19 claimed 6,255 lives in Canada during that time.
However, some provinces, including Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, were an exception.
British Columbia and Alberta also saw more people dying than typically expected this past summer when a heat wave settled over both provinces.
Statistics Canada expects to release a more comprehensive picture of how many more people have died as a result of the pandemic by the end of November.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2021.
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press