Canada at a Glance, 2022
Impacts of COVID-19

In March 2020, Canada was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, the lives of the country’s entire population felt the effects: schools closed and classes moved online; many businesses had to close temporarily, putting employees out of work, while others had to quickly shift to remote working. Globally, supply chains were disrupted as households adjusted their spending.

People were isolating at home, practising physical distancing when they did go out, and learning to live differently. As a result, it affected their mental health. With each new wave of COVID, public health measures were adjusted, relaxed or tightened. Today, the lives of Canadian are increasingly similar to what they experienced pre-pandemic, but some impacts will still be felt in the long term.

Figure 1 Social and economic impacts of COVID-19: timeline

Description for Figure 1

March 2020

  • March 11th - COVID-19 declared a pandemic
  • March 25th - Canada introduces Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • Cumulative employment losses in March and April total 3,000,000

April 2020

  • Output is 17% below its pre-pandemic level

June 2020

  • Retail sales surpass pre-COVID-19 levels

September 2020

  • Second wave (Beta variant) begins

December 2020

  • COVID-19 vaccinations begin
  • Canada surpasses 15,000 deaths related to COVID-19
  • Output recovers to within 4% of its pre-COVID-19 baseline
  • Employment recovers to within 650,000 of its pre-COVID-19 level

January 2021

  • Largest employment decline since initial wave

March 2021

  • Value of household real estate rises nearly $600 B in Q1 2021, up almost a quarter from pre-COVID-19 levels
  • March/April: Third wave (Gamma variant) begins

April 2021

  • Headline consumer inflation surpasses 3%

September 2021

  • Fourth wave (Delta variant) begins
  • 80% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated
  • Employment recovers to pre-pandemic levels

November 2021

  • Output recovers to pre-COVID-19 baseline

December 2021

  • Fifth wave (Omicron variant) begins

January 2022

  • Canada surpasses 33,000 deaths related to COVID-19
  • Headline inflation (5.1%) hits 30-year high

Social and demographic impacts

Did you know?

  • Canada will see a change in its demographic makeup, following a higher number of deaths, a decrease in immigration and delayed family planning during the pandemic.
  • In 2020, population growth (+0.4%) fell to levels not seen since the First World War, while the annual number of deaths surpassed 300,000 for the first time (+8%).
  • While the pandemic slowed the movement of people around the world, immigration still contributed to Canada's population growing by 0.4% in 2020, the fastest pace of growth in the G7 for similar periods.

Population growth… in brief

Although the pandemic slowed the country’s population growth in 2020, data from the 2021 Census show that from 2016 to 2021, Canada’s population grew at almost twice the pace of other G7 countries, rising by 1.8 million from 2016 (+5.2%). Most of the growth was driven by immigration before the pandemic. Since late-2021, immigration has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Chart 20 Estimated percentage of excess and COVID-19 deaths, by age group, Canada, March 28, 2020, to October 16, 2021

Data table for Chart 20 
Data table for chart 20
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 20. The information is grouped by Age (appearing as row headers), Excess deaths and COVID-19 deaths, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age Excess deaths COVID-19 deaths
85 and older 29.6 44.4
65 to 84 37.3 43.5
45 to 64 18.8 10.6
0 to 44 14.2 1.5

Did you know?

  • The pandemic was the cause of more deaths than expected, but not all those deaths were caused by COVID-19. Poisonings and opioid overdoses also contributed to the excess mortality.

Moving from the big city to a small town… in brief

Some of Canada’s fastest-growing small towns outside urban centres from 2016 to 2021 were located within a two-hour drive of Toronto, Montréal or Vancouver. Between 2016 and 2021, the populations of these fastest-growing towns outside urban centres increased at about twice the pace of the entire country (+5.2%) and more than 20 times faster than rural Canada (+0.4%). The pandemic is undoubtedly a factor, given that it has had a profound effect on how we live and work. For instance, in 2021, approximately 4 in 10 jobs in Canada could be done from home.

Mental health

Chart 21 Proportion of Canadians (18 years and older) who experienced mental health difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic

Data table for Chart 21 
Data table for chart 21
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 21 Proportion, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
No mental health difficulties 65.7
Low-to-moderate mental health difficulties 25.5
Severe mental health difficulties 8.8

Did you know?

  • Individuals who were most vulnerable to negative impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic were those who experienced severe levels of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress.
  • Individuals who experienced severe levels of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress were considerably more likely to have contemplated suicide since the onset of the pandemic compared to individuals who experienced no mental health difficulties.
  • Compared to individuals without minor children in Canada, parents or legal guardians of children 18 years or younger were more likely to experience emotional distress, difficulty meeting financial obligations or essential needs and challenges in relationships with members of their household.

Eh Sayers

Listen to our podcast Eh Sayers Episode 2 - Unravelling: Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian families (

Ethnic or racial discrimination in numbers and images

Discrimination before and since the start of the pandemic (

Economic impacts

Chart 22 Average hourly wages and consumer prices

Data table for Chart 22 
Data table for chart 22
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 22 Average hourly wages and Consumer price index, calculated using index (January 2018=100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Average hourly wages Consumer price index
index (January 2018=100)
January 100.000000 100.000000
February 100.336449 100.607441
March 100.411215 100.911162
April 100.635514 101.214882
May 100.224299 101.290812
June 99.887850 101.442673
July 99.065421 101.974184
August 99.252336 101.898254
September 100.523364 101.518603
October 100.710280 101.822323
November 100.822430 101.366743
December 101.308411 101.290812
January 101.906542 101.442673
February 102.579439 102.126044
March 102.878505 102.809415
April 103.177570 103.264996
May 103.065421 103.720577
June 103.700935 103.492787
July 103.588785 104.024298
August 103.065421 103.872437
September 104.897196 103.416856
October 105.196262 103.720577
November 105.495327 103.568717
December 105.196262 103.568717
January 106.392523 103.872437
February 106.878505 104.328018
March 109.420561 103.720577
April 114.467290 103.037206
May 113.794393 103.340926
June 111.140187 104.176158
July 110.093458 104.176158
August 109.682243 104.024298
September 110.616822 103.948368
October 110.878505 104.403948
November 110.654206 104.555809
December 110.990654 104.328018
January 113.009346 104.935459
February 112.037383 105.466970
March 111.738318 105.998481
April 112.411215 106.529992
May 111.925234 107.061503
June 111.028037 107.365224
July 110.616822 108.048595
August 111.140187 108.276386
September 112.523364 108.504176
October 113.121495 109.263478
November 113.644860 109.491268
December 113.981308 109.339408
January 115.700935 110.326500
February 115.476636 111.465452
March 115.588785 113.059985
April 116.112150 113.743356
May 116.336449 115.337889
June 116.785047 116.097191
July 116.411215 116.249051
August 117.121495 115.869400

Did you know?

  • The population is feeling more stress on their pocketbooks as supply disruptions and strong demand continue to fuel consumer inflation.
  • Consumer inflation has outpaced average wage growth since the spring of 2021, but has eased in recent months.
  • According to data from the Consumer Price Index, inflation rose 7.0% year over year in August 2022, after increasing 7.6% in July.
  • Sectors for which growth in offered hourly wages were on par with or below the CPI accounted for 4 out of 5 total vacancies in the second quarter of 2022.

Chart 23 Job vacancy rates, second quarter of 2019 and second quarter of 2022

Data table for Chart 23 
Data table for chart 23
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 23 Q2 2019, Q2 2022, Number of job vacancies in Q2 2022 and percentage increase since Q2 2019, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Q2 2019 Q2 2022 Number of job vacancies in Q2 2022 percentage increase since Q2 2019
All industries 3.1 5.9 1032000 104
Accommodation and food services 4.2 11.9 160900 184
Health care and social assistance 3.0 5.9 139100 125
Retail trade 2.3 5.3 111100 137
Manufacturing 3.0 5.3 87000 83
Construction 3.3 7.7 89800 171

Did you know?

  • Total employment rebounded to pre-COVID levels, but the high number of job vacancies signals an imbalance between labour supply and demand.
  • Job vacancies neared the one million mark in Q2 2022, as the job vacancy rate reached a record high of 5.7%.

Chart 24 Share of businesses reporting that the absence of government support programs in the next 12 months would have a medium-to-high impact on their business survival, fourth quarter of 2021

Data table for Chart 24 
Data table for chart 24
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 24 Fourth quarter of 2021, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Fourth quarter of 2021
All industries 33.3
Accommodation and food services 63.7
Arts, entertainment and recreation 59.0
Manufacturing 38.3
Retail trade 33.4
Information and cultural industries 33.1
Transportation and warehousing 33.0
Health care and social assistance 32.7
Administrative and support, waste management
and remediation services
Construction 29.0
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 23.9
Real estate and rental and leasing 23.6
Professional, scientific and technical services 23.3
Finance and insurance 11.6

Did you know?

  • Emergency programs were a critical lifeline for many businesses during the pandemic. Business insolvencies have remained below pre-pandemic levels, but rose 37% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
  • During the fourth quarter of 2021, one-third of businesses reported that the absence of government support programs over the next 12 months would have a medium-to-high impact on their survival. This includes almost two-thirds of those in accommodation and food services and 40% of businesses with 5 to 19 employees.

To learn more

COVID-19: A data perspective (

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