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Deaths and causes of death, 2017

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Released: 2018-11-29


There were 276,689 deaths in Canada (excluding Yukon) in 2017, up 3.1% over 2016. Data for Yukon were unavailable at the time of release. The number of deaths is expected to increase, driven by two factors. Canada's population is both growing (a larger population generates more deaths) and aging. Seniors account for a larger share of the population, and mortality rates increase with age.

In the provinces and territories, the largest increases were in the Atlantic provinces (+5.3%) and in British Columbia (+5.1%). The smallest increases were in the territories (+1.7%) and in Quebec (+2.3%). The number of deaths rose 3.9% in Ontario and 3.0% in the Prairie provinces.

Slightly more men (141,098) died than women (135,591) in Canada in 2017. The difference between the two figures has narrowed over the past three decades because the number of deaths among women has increased faster than the number of deaths among men. In 1991, there were 85 female deaths for every 100 male deaths in Canada. In 2017, this ratio rose to 96 female deaths per 100 male deaths. The highest ratio was in Quebec—the lone province where more women than men died (104 female deaths per 100 male deaths) in 2017. The lowest ratio was in Nunavut (63 female deaths per 100 male deaths).

The breakdown of mortality by age and sex shows that mortality rates for both sexes were lowest among those aged 5 to 14 years, and highest among those aged 90 years and older. However, the mortality rate remained higher among men than women in all age groups.

Leading causes of death

In 2017, cancer and heart diseases remained the two leading causes of death in every province and territory for which data were available. Since data on causes of death in Ontario and Yukon were not available at the time of this release, the analysis excludes these two regions.

Cancer and heart diseases accounted for 44% of deaths in the Northwest Territories and 51% of deaths in Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Nunavut stands out from the other provinces and territories, with only 16% of deaths attributable to cancer and 9.5% to heart diseases. Nova Scotia had the highest age-standardized cancer mortality rate among the provinces and territories (231 per 100,000), while Alberta and British Columbia had the lowest at 184 per 100,000.

Cerebrovascular diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidents combined were the next leading causes of death, accounting for 13% of deaths in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador and 18% of deaths in Nunavut. Overall, these five causes of death accounted for approximately 60% of deaths in the provinces and territories for which data were available, except in Nunavut, where they represented 43% of all deaths.

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

Deaths and Causes of Death is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping to measure the following goal:

  Note to readers

To improve the timeliness of the data, the collection period was shortened in 2017 compared with previous years. As a result, 2017 data are considered preliminary. The data will be revised in future releases.

Data on the causes and number of deaths for deaths that occurred in Yukon or to residents of Yukon in other provinces or territories are not available. Likewise, data on the causes of death occurring in Ontario or to residents of Ontario in other provinces or territories are also not available. However, the total number of deaths in Ontario was available and has been included in this release.


You can also consult the publication Health Indicators (Catalogue number82-221-X), which has been updated.

Contact information

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; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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