B.C. had highest excess deaths than any other province: report

A study out of UBC shows some of the collateral damage of the pandemic, which not only included the tragic loss of life from those who were infected with COVID-19, but in the greater impacts on mortality rates.

Dr. Kim McGrail used the projected rates of excess deaths, which looks at the number of people dying above what’s normally expected.

Her research explores the possible causes of the overall increase in death rates which could include delayed care, cancelled surgeries, diagnostic and appointments missed, which in turn led to poor outcomes.

“So you have these funny things where because of the pandemic restrictions we might have actually seen less mortality than we would have expected otherwise, and then COVID adds back to that because people are dying directly from the virus but also things related to the virus.”

Related Articles:

She looked at data from Statistics Canada and examined the trends in population size, comparing it to the pre-pandemic times.

“It’s going to take a long time to recover and we need to stay on top of that. Make sure that particularly vulnerable people in the community, that we are not loading more of the pandemic effects on certain groups.

From province to province, there were some differences.

“We saw very little to no excess death in the Atlantic provinces, and quite high excess deaths in western provinces,” her report found.

B.C. had the highest excess mortality rate per 100,000 than any other province. (Courtesy: UBC)

B.C. had the highest excess mortality rate per 100,000 than any other province. (Courtesy: UBC)

In B.C. alone, she points to the recent heat dome as an example of an unrelated event possibly being linked to the pandemic numbers.

“You might say that’s not related to COVID-19. However, so much policy attention was being placed on COVID-19 at the time. Some of the precautions, with people being locked down, limited activity and so on, might have contributed to how we responded to the heat dome, which in turn could have contributed to deaths. For example, lots of older people living alone didn’t have the usual level of social support and people checking on them,” she suggests.

Another ongoing health crisis could also have impacted the rates, as B.C. continues to see record-breaking toxic drug deaths in recent years, and advocates argue that the public response to that crisis is not at the same level we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She says in order to fill in some of the unknowns, her data points to the need for consistency nationwide.

“First of us, just public understanding of what’s happening and really a clear understanding across provinces about what’s worked and hasn’t worked, consistent definitions would be really helpful for that,” McGrail said.

McGrail says she hopes her research opens conversations surrounding common data, timelines, and definitions which could be implemented in the future.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today