Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada


Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Number of deaths

In 2007, a total of 235,217 deaths (118,681 males and 116,536 females) were registered in Canada. The number of deaths rose 3.1% (or 7,138) in 2007 compared with 2006, the largest annual increase since 1993.

Both male and female deaths rose from the previous year; however, the increase was slightly higher for females (3.2%) than for males (3.1%).

All provinces and territories recorded more deaths in 2007 than in 2006, except Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories. Yukon posted the largest relative increase, followed by New Brunswick, Quebec and Alberta. Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and British Columbia had a lower relative rise than the national average.

Trends in deaths

From 1982 to 2007, the annual number of deaths rose 34.9%, from 174,413 to 235,217. In this 25-year span, the annual number of deaths rose every year, except in 2000 and 2006 (Chart 1).

The aging of the Canadian population is the main contributor to the increasing trend in the number of deaths. From 1982 to 2007, the proportion of people aged 65 and older increased by 38.5%.

For the 1982 to 2007 period, the upward trend of male deaths was less pronounced than that of female deaths. Male deaths dropped in five years (1983, 1990, 2000, 2004 and 2006) during this period, with the largest decline in 2000. Meanwhile, the number of female deaths rose continuously during the same period, except for a decrease in 2006.

Natural increase

Natural increase in the population is the difference between the number of births and deaths. Chart 2 illustrates the annual number of births, deaths and natural increase from 1982 to 2007.

The natural increase was around 127,000 people in 2006 and approximately 133,000 in 2007.

In the 25-year period from 1982 to 2007, the annual number of deaths increased steadily, whereas the annual number of births fluctuated.

From 1982 to 1986, the number of births hovered at around 373,000, and then increased in 1990 to its highest level, to almost 405,000 births. After 1990, the number of births dropped gradually to its lowest level in 2000, approximately 328,000 births. At the beginning of the 21st century, the number of births turned upward again, reaching nearly 368,000 in 2007.

The evolution of the natural increase in this 25-year period was mainly influenced by the number of births. Before 1993, the natural increase numbers were generally higher than those of deaths. When the number of births started to drop, the natural increase figures also declined. In 2002, the natural increase dropped to a 25-year low, approximately 105,000 people. However, from 2003 to 2007, when the number of births rose again, the natural increase also rose steadily.

Mortality rates

From 1982 to 2007, the aging of the population has greatly contributed to an increase in the number of deaths. Nevertheless, when the effect of the age structure of the population is eliminated, the standardized mortality rate (SMR) 1  shows a decline over this same period.

Crude and standardized mortality rates

In Canada, the SMR remained the same for both 2006 and 2007 at 5.4 per 1,000 standard population, despite an increase in the crude mortality rate—from 7.0 in 2006 to 7.1 deaths per 1,000 population in 2007 (see Text table 2).

From 2006 to 2007, the SMR decreased in four provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Alberta) and in all the territories. The SMR remained constant in four provinces (Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia) and rose only in New Brunswick and Quebec. The largest SMR decline was in Nunavut.

In 2007, the SMR ranged from 5.1 in British Columbia to 10.0 per 1,000 standard population in Nunavut. British Columbia and Ontario had SMRs below the national level; Quebec and Alberta matched the national SMR. In the remaining provinces, the SMR exceeded the national level.

From 1997 to 2007, the SMR declined in all of the eight regions shown in Chart 3. The largest decline was in Quebec; the smallest was in the territories. Within the 10-year period from 1997 to 2007, Quebec went from having the third highest SMR to the third lowest.

Age-specific mortality rates

Two factors can contribute to the decrease in the number of deaths: a decrease in the population at risk of dying and a downturn in mortality rates.

By applying 2006 age-specific mortality rates to the 2007 population, it is possible to assess the extent to which the change in the number of deaths in 2007 was because of changes in population size rather than changes in mortality rates (Text table 3).

Had age-specific mortality rates remained the same from 2006 to 2007, the number of deaths in 2007 would have been 235,401. However, the actual number of deaths registered in 2007 was slightly lower, 235,217. The outcome of 184 fewer deaths than expected in 2007 could be because of the combination of increases and decreases in the age-specific mortality rates.

In 2007, mortality rates declined for ten age groups, and increased in eight age groups. Young people aged 1 to 14 years old had the lowest age-specific mortality rates, but saw the largest relative changes in those rates. From 2006 to 2007, the largest relative decline was among those aged 1 to 4 (-6.6%) and the largest rise was for those aged 5 to 9 (8.7%).

Infant deaths and mortality

An infant death is the death of a child under one year of age. From 2006 to 2007, the number of infant deaths rose 6.2%—from 1,771 to 1,881. The number of male infant deaths increased 6.1%, from 983 to 1,043; the number of female infant deaths was up 6.4%, from 788 to 838.

Infant mortality rate

The infant mortality rate rose 2.0%, from 5.0 in 2006 to 5.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007. The male infant mortality rate went up 1.9%, from 5.4 to 5.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The female rate increased 2.2%, from 4.6 to 4.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

From 2006 to 2007, seven provinces and one territory recorded higher infant mortality rates, with the largest increase in Prince Edward Island. The other five provinces and territories posted declines—the largest was in the Northwest Territories (Text table 4).

In the same period, the increase in the male infant mortality rate was a result of the increases observed in 8 out of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories. The female infant mortality rate also went up in six provinces.

Neonatal, post-neonatal and perinatal mortality

Infant mortality can be subdivided into neonatal mortality (deaths of infants aged 0 to 27 days) and post-neonatal mortality (deaths of infants aged 28 to 364 days). Perinatal mortality refers to stillbirths with 28 or more weeks of gestation and early neonatal deaths (deaths of infants aged 0 to 6 days).

From 2006 to 2007, Canada’s neonatal mortality rate increased 2.7%—from 3.7 in 2006 to 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007. In contrast, the post-neonatal rate remained unchanged at 1.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. Therefore, the increase in the infant mortality rate was mainly because of the increase in the neonatal mortality rate (Text table 5).

The perinatal mortality rate increased from 6.1 to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 total births. Total births are live births plus stillbirths of 28 or more weeks of gestation.

Trends in infant mortality

From 1992 to 2007, the infant mortality rate fell from 6.1 to 5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Over the 15-year period, the neonatal mortality rate declined from 4.0 to 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births; the post-neonatal mortality rate fell from 2.1 to 1.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. The perinatal mortality rate also declined, from 7.1 to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 total births (Text table 5).

The infant mortality and the neonatal mortality rates increased slightly from 1992 to 1993. From 1994 to 1998, the infant mortality rate declined and then fluctuated around 5.3 or 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births until 2005. By contrast, from 2001 to 2005, neonatal mortality rates increased steadily from a low of 3.8 to a high of 4.1 per 1,000 live births. Both rates declined in 2006, and then rose slightly in 2007.

The post-neonatal mortality rate declined from 1992 to 2003, then remained steady to 2007 at 1.3 deaths per 1,000 live births.

From 1992 to 2007, perinatal mortality rates saw an overall drop from 7.1 to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 total births. From 1994 to 2000, the perinatal mortality rate dropped. From 2001 to 2005, it remained stable around 6.3, and then in 2006 it declined to 6.1 deaths per 1,000 total births. In 2007, the rate went up to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 total births.

Trends in perinatal mortality

From 1992 to 2007, trends in the two components of perinatal deaths—early neonatal and late fetal deaths—differed in their evolution. The number of late fetal deaths followed a downward trend from 1992 to 2004, changing to an upward trend in 2005. The number of early neonatal deaths saw a downward trend from 1994 to 2000, but turned upward from 2001 to 2005, then declined again in 2006. In 2007, the number of early neonatal deaths exceeded that of fetal deaths.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy 2  is the average number of years a person would be expected to live—at birth or at another age—if the age-specific mortality rates for a given observation period (such as a calendar year) were held constant over his or her life span. This indicator is based on a set of age-specific mortality rates calculated using three years of data.

Life expectancy at birth and at age 65

In 2005/2007, life expectancy at birth was 80.7 years—78.3 years for males and 83.0 years for females. This was an increase of 0.2 year of life expectancy at birth from 2004/2006, with gains of 0.3 year for males and 0.2 year for females (Text table 6).

Life expectancy at age 65 was 19.8 years in 2005/2007—18.1 years for males and 21.3 years for females. From 2004/2006 to 2005/2007, the gain in life expectancy at age 65 was the same at 0.2 year for both males and females.

Over the period of 10 years, life expectancy at birth rose by 2.3 years, from 78.4 in 1995/1997 to 80.7 in 2005/2007 (Text table 6). During this period, life expectancy for males improved by 2.9 years, whereas for females it increased by 1.8 years. As a result, the gender gap narrowed by 1.1 years, from 5.8 years in 1995/1997 to 4.7 years in 2005/2007.

From 1995/1997 to 2005/2007, life expectancy at age 65 gained 1.6 years. The increase in life expectancy for males at age 65 (2.0 years) surpassed that of the increase for females (1.3 years). As a result, the male–female gap in life expectancy at age 65 was reduced by 0.7 year, from 3.9 years to 3.2 years, respectively. The improvement in life expectancy at age 65 accounted for 70% of the total increase in life expectancy at birth.

Geographic differences in life expectancy

In 2005/2007, life expectancy at birth in British Columbia, 81.2 years, and in Ontario, 81.0 years, exceeded the national average, 80.7 years (Text table 7). Quebec’s life expectancy at birth matched the national average. In the other provinces and in the territories, life expectancy at birth was below the national level. The lowest life expectancy was in the territories, at 75.8 years.

Life expectancy at age 65 was also highest in British Columbia, 20.4 years, followed by Alberta, 20.0 years, and Ontario, 19.9 years. The life expectancy at age 65 of these three provinces exceeded the national average, 19.8 years. Quebec’s life expectancy at 65 matched Canada’s. Life expectancy at age 65 in the other provinces and the territories was below the national level. The lowest life expectancy at age 65 was in the territories, 16.9 years.