The science of projecting “expected deaths” for future time periods is based upon adjusted mortality statistics from previous time periods. For example, if 75,000 Canadians had died in each of the first, second, third and fourth quarters of a certain year, then Statistics Canada might predict that 75,000 people would die during a quarter of the following year (provided that all other conditions remained the same). These 75,000 projected deaths would be called “expected deaths.” If, however, 90,000 people died in a quarter instead of the projected 75,000, then Statistics Canada would report 15,000 excess deaths, resulting from some unanticipated crisis.
A crisis there has been. Excess deaths in Canada are on the rise and have been since 2020. During the last half of 2021, there were 7,959 excess deaths in Canada that were not caused by Covid. In fact, for almost every week during that period, the number of non-Covid excess deaths was greater than the number of Covid deaths. Excess deaths especially impacted Canadians younger than 45, according to Statistics Canada. Deaths among younger Canadians were 36% higher than expected in Saskatchewan, 52% higher than expected in Alberta, and 49% higher than expected in British Columbia.
So, who died unexpectedly, and what caused their deaths? Approximately 600 excess deaths were caused by a heat wave in British Columbia in July of 2021. Other excess deaths occurred in New Brunswick, where a neurological disease is thought to have caused more than 600 deaths. Even when taking these causes into consideration, more than 6,700 excess deaths need to be explained. Many of these excess deaths occurred among younger people for whom Covid does not pose a serious health risk, according to Canada’s Health InfoBase.
Since 2020, most excess deaths in Canada appear to have been caused by drug overdoses and healthcare disruptions, both made worse by lockdowns. As a direct and indirect consequence of lockdown policies, hundreds of thousands of medically necessary surgeries have been cancelled or delayed. From March 2020 to June 2021, approximately 560,000 fewer surgeries were performed, compared with numbers prior to lockdowns. While most of these surgeries and diagnostic procedures were eventually re-scheduled, many Canadians died while waiting for life-saving surgeries. Others will die because their cancer was not diagnosed early enough. Indeed, the Canadian Medical Association and Deloitte have stated that delayed or missed medical procedures in 2020 may have contributed to more than 4,000 excess deaths in Canada between August and December of 2020. Surgeries and diagnostic procedures continued to be delayed and cancelled throughout 2021, which will undoubtedly cause there to be additional excess deaths in 2022.
Further, lockdown policies that required social isolation have prevented thousands of vulnerable Canadians from enjoying healthy in-person relationships and from accessing necessary mental health and addiction resources. This led to a 96% increase in apparent opioid toxicity deaths from April 2020 to March 2021, compared to the same period of the previous year.
Since lockdowns were first imposed in March of 2020, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have paid little attention to the harmful effects of their policies. Instead, politicians and government-funded media repeat endlessly that “lockdowns save lives.” We know how propaganda works: when people hear a claim often enough, they come to accept it as true.
Public health agencies and most media organizations have yet to conduct a serious assessment of the quality and efficacy of the measures that have violated Canadians’ freedom to move, travel, assemble, associate, worship, and exercise their right to bodily autonomy by deciding what will or will not be injected into their bodies. When political, academic and media elites claim that the Canadian response to Covid has been a success, their definition of “success” appears to be strictly limited to high vaccination rates and high rates of compliance with public health orders.
Defining "success" without reference to excess deaths, while ignoring the vast medical and social harms experienced by Canadians, is a huge mistake. It’s time for governments (and the media they fund with our tax dollars) to stop ignoring the high costs of lockdowns. Future Canadian responses to viral infections require a definition of success that fully and accurately captures the deaths and other negative consequences of lockdowns.
John Carpay, B.A., LL.B., is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca).
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