Temperatures soared to the 40 C range this summer as the province of B.C., Canada baked in a ‘heat dome.’ (Black Press file)

Temperatures soared to the 40 C range this summer as the province of B.C., Canada baked in a ‘heat dome.’ (Black Press file)

B.C. heat dome contributed to higher-than-average deaths this year, says StatsCan

Heat-related deaths, COVID-19 and overdose deaths factored by Statistics Canada

A summer heat dome compounded the number of deaths in British Columbia, reports the nation’s statistical office.

According to a press release on excess deaths, where more mortality than anticipated occurs over a select period of time, Statistics Canada said B.C. saw “higher-than-expected mortality at the end of June 2021 and into July.” A number of areas in the province experienced temperatures at, or above, 40 C during that time.

The province also saw “excess mortality” in August and September, StatsCan said.

“While the sharp increase in deaths in B.C. associated with the heatwave affected those aged 40 years and older, the more recent increase in the number of deaths appears to be driven by those under 40, specifically males,” Statistics Canada said. “There were 145 (67 per cent) more deaths than expected among males under the age of 40 through the months of August and September.”

COVID-19 and its variants continue to be a concern, according to StatsCan. The period from March 2020 to the start of September saw approximately 20,994 excess deaths in Canada, amounting to five per cent more deaths than expected had the country not been amidst the pandemic, it said, with factors such as aging taken into account.

In the same time, there were 26,065 deaths directly related to COVID-19, StatsCan said.

“While COVID-19 claimed the lives of 5,930 Canadians from the beginning of February 2021 to the beginning of September 2021, significant excess mortality was not observed nationally during this time, StatsCan reported. “However, some provinces, including Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., experienced periods of excess mortality, generally coinciding with a higher number of deaths attributable to COVID-19 over the same period.

Provincial medical examiner reports for 2020 saw record mortality related to drug overdoses, and data suggests that numbers could be surpassed this year, said StatsCan. It was something BC Coroners Service confirmed today, Dec. 9, with a record 201 overdose deaths reported in October. It amounts to a daily average of 6.5 deaths, the B.C. Coroners Service said.

The total number of deaths, to the end of October, is 1,782, an increase of 344 when compared to the first 10 months of 2020, according to the Coroners Service.

StatsCan stated that year-over-year variation in weekly deaths always occurs, meaning, “the number of expected deaths should fall within a certain range of values.”

“There is evidence of excess mortality when weekly deaths are consistently higher than the expected number, but especially when they exceed the range of what is expected over several consecutive weeks,” it said.

– With files from Katya Slepian

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