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ISQ data | Excess mortality on the rise in 2022



Quebec recorded higher excess mortality in 2022 than in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, show new data from the Quebec Institute of Statistics (ISQ). There is indeed an increase in deaths, especially outside Montreal.

Nearly 7,000 more deaths

The province recorded nearly 6,800 more deaths than expected last year (+9.5%), compared to 5,400 in 2020 (+7.7%), according to the most recent data from the Institute. This toll is significantly heavier than that recorded in 2021, when lower mortality was observed. Indeed, Quebec had recorded 239 fewer deaths than anticipated, a proportion of -0.3%. The ISQ calculates the excess mortality by comparing all the deaths recorded with the forecasts made according to the deaths that occurred in the years preceding the pandemic.

Multiple causes


Queue in front of a COVID-19 screening center in January 2022. Quebec was then in the midst of an Omicron wave.

According to Frédéric Fleury-Payeur, demographer at the ISQ, “several factors” can explain the situation. “The main one remains COVID-19, with the Omicron wave hitting hard in January 2022,” he says. The summer was not particularly hot, but the “amazing heat wave in May” also led to an increase in excess mortality. Finally, the “triple epidemic” of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 observed at the end of the year led to an increase in deaths, although less sharp than in Europe. Other “indirect factors” linked to the pandemic, such as the impacts of the “long COVID” or even load shedding, potentially also contributed to the increase, adds the demographer.

Towards a decline in 2023?


The demographer Frédéric Fleury-Payeur

Despite an increase in 2022, marked by several peaks, excess mortality “should go down to a lower level in 2023,” predicts the ISQ demographer. “In the last week of the year, towards the end of December, we were already down to 13 or 14%. And the first data we have for January lead us to believe that it will continue to go down. »

Seniors hard hit

As since the start of the pandemic, most of the excess mortality recorded in 2022 occurred among people aged 70 and over. This group deplored 5,155 more deaths than expected. This is more than the 4,500 deaths that were recorded in 2020.

Deaths on the rise among young people


The opioid overdose crisis is suspected to be one of the causes of the rise in deaths among people under 50.

Quebec also notes a marked increase in deaths among those under 50. In fact, this age group shows an excess mortality of 18% in 2022. The ISQ recorded 3,235 deaths in this group, while it predicted 2,734. “It may seem like a lot, […] but you have to understand that the downward trend among those under 50 has been very strong for a few years,” explains Mr. Fleury-Payeur. Cautiously, he puts forward a few factors that could explain the jump among the youngest, such as the opioid overdose crisis in particular, or even suicide. “That said, we cannot rule for the moment, as several of these cases are still subject to coroner’s inquests,” he nuances.

More men than women

Another phenomenon: excess mortality affected men more than women in 2022. Last year, nearly 3,900 more men than expected lost their lives, compared to 2,900 women, a significant difference. During the Omicron wave at the start of the year, the ISQ also confirmed that it had recorded “many more deaths of men”. But “in the wave of respiratory viruses and flu, there were a few more women who died,” notes the demographer.

An idea of ​​the portrait by region

The increase in deaths recorded in 2022 took place outside Montreal and Laval, according to the ISQ. Epicenter of the pandemic in 2020, the two cities had recorded a high excess mortality of 18% at the time. But last year, they showed an excess mortality of 3%. Conversely, the neighboring regions, namely Lanaudière, the Laurentians and Montérégie, show an excess mortality of 10%. And in the rest of Quebec, it is even higher: the excess mortality reaches 12%. “This is a phenomenon that we also see elsewhere in the world: the regions spared in 2020 or 2021 ended up being more affected”, illustrates Mr. Fleury-Payeur on this subject. In total, since 2020, Quebec has recorded an overall excess mortality of 6.1%, which is still below that of Ontario, which reaches 7.5% without all the data for 2022 having been compiled.

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