Life expectancy is a key metric that reflects the overall well-being and health of a country’s population. In Canada, life expectancy has been rising year after year thanks to the excellent healthcare system that is free for all Canadian residents and the increasing awareness among Canadians of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

In this article, you will find information on how life expectancy has improved in Canada since the 1950s, how Canada compares with other countries for life expectancy, and which parts of Canada have the best life expectancy among other interesting statistics. We have also included information on the factors that can affect a person’s life expectancy.

Life Expectancy Statistics for Canadians

  • In 1800, the life expectancy in Canada was only 39 years but increased rapidly in the 1900s.
  • The life expectancy at birth in Canada is now 83.02 years.
  • Canada has the 19th highest life expectancy in the world.
  • Hong Kong has the highest life expectancy in the world with 85.83 years.
  • Canada could fall to 27th place by 2024 for the highest life expectancy.
  • Spain is expected to have the highest average lifespan at birth by 2040.
  • At 82.6 years, Ontario and Quebec have the highest life expectancy in Canada, while Nunavut has the lowest at 72.1 years.
  • British Columbia has the highest female life expectancy in Canada at 84.7 years while the highest life expectancy for men is in Ontario at 80.5 years.
  • Canadians who are born into wealthy neighbourhoods have a better life expectancy.

Life Expectancy in Canada

For several decades, life expectancy in Canada has been improving. Compared to Canadian life expectancy a century ago, Canadians born today live on average 25 years longer. Even compared to the 1950s, the average Canadian can expect to live 15 years longer.

However, the growth rate of life expectancy in Canada has slowed down and even remained flat in some years. There are also significant differences in life expectancies between the provinces and the territories.

How Has Life Expectancy Changed in Canada?

Life expectancy in Canada has more than doubled since the 1800s. In 1800, the average Canadian could only expect to live 39 years. The average life expectancy was slow to change in the 1800s and was only 40.84 years in 1850.

However, as healthcare and living conditions improved in Canada, life expectancy began to climb faster and by 1900, the average Canadian could expect to live 47.6 years from birth. By the mid-1930s, the life expectancy had reached over 60 years and in 1935 was 61.88 years.

The expected life from birth continued to increase rapidly after the 1930s and in 1950, Canadian life expectancy was 68.29 years reaching over 70 years for the first time in 1957.

The increases in life expectancy have been slower since then and it took until 2005 for the life expectancy to climb above 80 years, when Canadians could expect to live, on average, 80.12 years from birth. Currently, Canadian life expectancy is 83.02 years from birth.

How Does Canada’s Life Expectancy Compare with Other Countries?

Canada has the 19th highest life expectancy in the world with 83.02 years. The average life expectancy across all countries is 73.4 so life expectancy in Canada is ten years longer than the world average.

Hong Kong currently has the highest life expectancy in the world at 85.83 years. It is followed by Maco at 85.51 years, Japan at 84.95 years, Switzerland at 84.38 years, and Singapore at 84.27 years.

The lowest life expectancies in the world are in Africa, with Chad having the lowest at just 53.68 years. Nigeria and Lesotho have the second and third lowest life expectancies with 53.87 and 54.91 years, respectively.

Canada’s Ranking is Likely to Fall in the Future

Based on the current trends in life expectancy, by 2040 Canada could be in 27th place in the world. This will be due to improvements made in other countries. While Canada’s life expectancy growth has slowed down, it has speeded up in other countries currently behind Canada.

One of the countries where life expectancy is rapidly improving is China. It had a life expectancy of 76.3 years in 2016 but by 2040 it is expected to reach 81.9. This would move China from 68th place in 2016 to 39th place in 2040.

The leading country is also expected to change by 2040 with Spain taking the top spot with the average Spanish expected to live 85.8 years from birth. The highest fall among high-income countries is predicted to be the US which will see its ranking fall from the 43rd to 64th place. However, the life expectancy in the US will rise from 78.7 to 79.8 years.

There Are Large Regional Differences in Life Expectancy in Canada

The latest available life expectancies for the Canadian provinces and territories show that Ontario and Quebec have the joint highest life expectancy closely followed by British Columbia. In Ontario and Quebec the life expectancy for both sexes combined is 82.6 years and in British Columbia it is 82.4 years. Nunavut has the lowest at 72.1 years.

  • Ontario and Quebec – 82.6
  • British Columbia – 82.4
  • Prince Edward Island – 82.0
  • Alberta – 81.5
  • New Brunswick – 80.7
  • Nova Scotia – 80.4
  • Saskatchewan – 80.2
  • Manitoba – 80.0
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 79.5
  • Yukon – 78.6
  • Northwest Territories – 77.1
  • Nunavut – 72.1

Women Born in British Columbia Have the Highest Life Expectancy

Female children born in British Columbia have the highest life expectancy at birth in Canada at 84.7 years. Close behind it are Ontario and Quebec with 84.6 and 84.4 years, respectively. The lowest life expectancy is in Nunavut where at 73.4 years it is more than ten years shorter than in British Columbia.

  • British Columbia – 84.7
  • Ontario – 84.6
  • Quebec – 84.4
  • Prince Edward Island and Alberta- 83.8
  • New Brunswick – 82.9
  • Saskatchewan – 82.6
  • Nova Scotia – 82.5
  • Manitoba – 82.1
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 81.4
  • Yukon – 81.4
  • Northwest Territories – 79.3
  • Nunavut – 73.4

Ontario Has the Highest Life Expectancy for Men in Canada

Among Canadian men, those born in Ontario have the highest life expectancy at birth with 80.5 years. It is followed by Quebec and British Columbia in joint second place with 80.1 years. The lowest life expectancy is once again found in Nunavut where the average Canadian male can expect to live 70.8 years.

  • Ontario – 80.5
  • Quebec and British Columbia – 80.1
  • Prince Edward Island – 79.9
  • Alberta – 79.3
  • New Brunswick – 78.6
  • Nova Scotia – 78.2
  • Manitoba – 77.9
  • Saskatchewan – 77.8
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 77.5
  • Yukon – 75.9
  • Northwest Territories – 75.2
  • Nunavut – 70.8

Wealthier Neighbourhoods Have a Higher Life Expectancy in Canada

Data shows that people who are born into wealthier neighbourhoods have a better life expectancy in Canada. Women who are born into a more affluent area have a life expectancy of 84 years compared to 82 years for women who are born into poorer neighbourhoods.

For men, the life expectancies are 80 years for wealthier neighbourhoods and 76 years for poorer neighbourhoods. For both sexes combined, life expectancies are 82 and 78 years, respectively. There is a similar difference between life expectancies for those born in rural areas compared to cities and suburban areas.

Which City Has the Highest Life Expectancy in Canada?

While some Canadian cities, namely Victoria and Richmond, have been internationally recognised for their high expected lifespans in the past, these recognitions are from several years ago. There are no current data listings that rank Canadian cities by their life expectancy.

However, we can draw certain conclusions from the life expectancies for the Canadian provinces and territories. With the highest life expectancies, cities in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia are likely to have better life expectancies than cities in provinces with lower average life expectancies and higher than the cities in the territories.

Democratic Cohorts Can Lower the Life Expectancy of a Region

There are a range of factors that contribute to the life expectancy in an area. However, sometimes a single demographic cohort can bring down the region’s, or even the national, average.

For example, in Alberta, life expectancy among men dropped by 0.24 years and among women by 0.1 years because of the opioid crisis of 2018. This affected the overall life expectancy of the province, especially among men, since 75% of the 3,286 deaths related to opioids were men. 

Canada Has Almost 10,000 Centenarians

As the life expectancy in Canada has improved, so has the number of people aged 100 years or older. According to the 2021 census, there were over 9,500 centenarians in Canada. This was a 16% increase compared to the 2016 census.

The number of centenarians in Canada is predicted to increase further over the next few decades. It will increase particularly fast from 2046 until 2065, which is when people from the baby boomer generation will reach 100. It is estimated that there will be more than 87,500 centenarians in Canada by 2065.

What Are The Factors That Affect Life Expectancy?

A range of factors will affect a person’s life expectancy. One of the key factors is your genetics. For example, some people have a higher risk of certain health conditions or chronic diseases because of their genetics.

Another key factor is health and lifestyle. For example, you can improve your life expectancy with a healthy diet and regular exercise, while smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, and eating a fatty and sugary diet can lower the number of years one can expect to live.

Your geographic location and environment will also affect your life expectancy. For example, where you live can determine the access you have to medical care and the quality of medical care available. If you live in an area with high rates of pollution or side effects of climate change, that may also shorten your life expectancy. 

Your occupation may also lower your life expectancy. If you have a high-risk job or you are exposed to harmful conditions or materials in your job, your life expectancy is likely to be lower.

Finally, your socio-economic status can also impact your life expectancy. Your financial situation can affect whether you can live in a healthy environment and in countries where you have to pay for your health care, it can also affect the quality of health care you will receive.

Conclusion

Canada has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, ranking 16th with a life expectancy of 83.02 years. While life expectancy rose rapidly in the 1900s, the growth has now slowed down and even plateaued in some years. This may mean that other countries may overtake Canada in life expectancy. 

Life expectancy depends on various factors such as access to health care, the environment, genetics, and lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet and exercising reguarly can improve the expected lifespan while habits such as smoking can lower it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Canada has a good life expectancy and it currently has the 16th highest expected lifespan at birth. Life expectancy in Canada is 83 years. However, this varies greatly across the country with the highest life expectancies in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, while the lowest life expectancies are in the three territories.

The most common cause of premature death in Canada is cancer. The second most common cause is heart disease. Cancer has become more common in Canada as well as in other western countries and one in every two Canadians will get cancer during their lifetime.

Approximately, 0.03% of Canadians live to 100 years old. In 2021, according to the Canadian census, there were over 9,500 centenarians in Canada.

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