When statisticians speak of “excess” deaths, they speak of a higher-than-expected death rate. The number of “expected” deaths (for a country or province, for one year or some other time period) is based on the population’s age, race, employment, education, income, marriage rates, birth rates, and mortality statistics for previous periods. For example, statisticians might expect 300,000 people to die in Canada during a given year, based on demographics and other factors. If 320,000 Canadians die during that year instead of 300,000 there are 20,000 excess deaths.
In March of 2020, Canadians were told by their politicians, unelected health officials, and government-funded media that Covid would cause “excess” deaths on par with the Spanish flu of 1918-20, which killed tens of millions of people. Wanting to help prevent these supposedly unnecessary and supposedly avoidable deaths, many Canadians willingly gave up their human rights, civil liberties, and constitutional freedoms to comply with the government’s lockdowns, travel restrictions, and mandatory vaccination policies.
We know now that Covid’s death toll, allegedly seven million people in the past 3.5 years, has been a small fraction of what the Spanish flu inflicted on humanity back in 1918-20. The Spanish flu killed at least 20 million people, likely 50 million, and possibly 100 million, when the world’s population was about one quarter of what it is today. More significantly, the Spanish flu killed millions of young people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, so it had a significant influence on population mortality. The total years of life lost was astronomical when compared to Covid deaths, which overwhelmingly impacted people over 70 years old with one or more serious health problems.
While Canada’s politicians, media, and bureaucrats were concerned about excess deaths caused by Covid, they now appear to have no concern about excess deaths from other causes.
Excess deaths in Canada were 16,440 in 2020 and 21,09 in 2021, but then jumped to 36,979 in 2022. This was a 75 per cent increase in just one year. It is thought that major contributors to these excess deaths were cancelled medical surgeries and drug overdoses, although there may be other unexplored causes.
When Covid was the culprit, politicians cited excess deaths as justification for violating our Charter freedoms of association, expression, mobility, conscience, religion, peaceful assembly, and our right to bodily autonomy.
But now that Covid is no longer the main culprit of excess deaths, public health officials are not holding news conferences to discuss the 36,979 Canadians who died unexpectedly in 2022, nor do they want to discuss what might be causing a 75 per cent increase over 2021.
If this is the first you’ve heard of 36,979 Canadians dying unexpectedly in 2022, it’s likely because these deaths do not fit the media narrative that sees Covid as being an unusually deadly killer that is on par with the Spanish flu of 1918.
Another non-Covid reality that politicians are not discussing is the huge increase in deaths from “ill-defined or unknown cause,” under which an astounding 24 per cent of Canada’s deaths were categorized in 2022. A staggering 79,000 Canadians died of unknown cause in 2022.
By July of 2023, Statistics Canada had not yet released its annual tables on detailed causes of death for 2021. This is an unusual departure from prior years, as Statistics Canada normally releases its annual report in the November following the year under review. In other words, the norm is 11 months, but Canadians have now waited more than 19 months for the detailed analysis on causes of death in 2021.
It seems like the government and reporting agencies are keeping the Canadian public in the dark. Democracies do not function without access to data. Citizens must have access to vital statistics if they are to reasonably accept the government’s non-pharmaceutical interventions (i.e. lockdowns, travel restrictions, vaccine passports). Governments, reporting bodies, and statistical agencies must begin to capture data regarding, and investigate the causes of, excess deaths in Canada.
More Canadians – just under 37,000 – are dying than expected. But by-and-large these people are not dying of Covid, so politicians and media don’t appear to care.
This begs the question: were excess deaths ever the focal point when Covid captured the full attention of the entire planet in early 2020? Perhaps excess deaths were a politically expedient justification for incursions on civil liberties?
All deaths should matter, regardless of cause. Canadian reporting agencies, politicians, and health authorities should care about any death, especially when those deaths are data points in a story of unexpected and unexplained deaths.
John Carpay, B.A., LL.B. is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.