Deaths, 2010 and 2011

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The number of deaths rose in Canada in both 2010 and 2011, following a slight decrease between 2008 and 2009. The total number of deaths   reached   240,075   in   2010   and   242,074   in   2011, compared with   238,617   in   2008   and    238,418   in   2009.

The number of deaths in 2011 was the highest recorded since the introduction of the Vital Statistics registration system in the 1920s.

The increase in the number of deaths can be explained by two factors: population growth, as a larger population generates a higher number of deaths; and population aging, as the share of the population concentrated in older ages—when mortality is higher—is increasing.

The number of deaths in 2011 was the highest ever recorded in 6 of the 13 provinces and territories, that is, in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Nunavut.

For the first time since comparable data became available in 1926, there were about the same number of female and male deaths in Canada in 2011, with 121,042 male deaths and 121,032 female deaths recorded. Male and female deaths have been converging during the last three decades. This convergence is explained by the recent decline in male mortality, which has been more rapid than the decline in female mortality.

The infant mortality rate in Canada for 2011 was 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, its lowest recorded level since data collection began. The infant mortality rate has fluctuated around 5 deaths per 1,000 live births since 2006.

Infant mortality can be further broken down into early neonatal mortality, corresponding to the first week of life, and neonatal mortality, that is, in the first month of life. In 2011, two out of three deaths (63%) occurring in the first year of life in Canada occurred in the first week of life.

Based on a three-year life table, life expectancy at birth reached 79.3 years for males and 83.6 years for females in Canada during the 2009/2011 period. Over the last decade, the life expectancy of Canadian males increased on average by 3.6 months every year, while gains for females were lower, at 2.4 months per year. As a result, the gap between the life expectancy at birth between males and females decreased from its peak of 7.4 years reached at the end of the 1970s to 4.3 years in 2009/2011.

According to 2010 data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Japan had the highest female life expectancy at birth, at 86.4 years, followed by Spain (85.3), Switzerland (84.9) and France (84.7). The highest male life expectancy at birth was observed in Switzerland (80.3 years), Japan, Iceland, Australia and Sweden (79.5), as well as Italy (79.4).

Life expectancy at age 65 also increased, reaching 18.8 years for males and 21.7 years for females in 2009/2011. In comparison, the corresponding figures were 13.5 years and 16.1 years in 1961.

Among the provinces and territories, male life expectancy at birth in British Columbia surpassed 80 years for the first time in 2009/2011, reaching 80.3. For females in British Columbia, it was 84.4 years during the same 2009/2011 period.

Ontario and Quebec were the other two provinces showing life expectancies close to, or above, the national average in recent years. All other provinces and territories had life expectancies at birth that were below the national average.

Available in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table102-0030 and CANSIM table102-0501 to 102-0510.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number3233.

A more detailed analysis can be found in the article "Mortality: Overview, 2010 and 2011," available in the publication Report on the demographic situation in Canada (Catalogue number91-209-X).

The product Life tables for Canada, provinces and territories (Catalogue number84-537-X) is also available today.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).