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What is the average life expectancy in Canada?

SUMMARY

Life expectancy is all about how many years someone can expect to live. It can depend on many different things, like health, gender, and physical location. But don’t worry, Canada’s life expectancy is above 80 years old. We’ll tell you more in this article.

By Jason Reynold Goveas
Senior Insurance Advisor, LLQP
13 ‏‏‎ ‎‎‎‎‎min read
IN THIS ARTICLE

No one likes to think about their death… Well, except for when we do. Life changes can get us thinking about our own fates and how much time we have left on Earth, so to speak. It’s a bit morbid, but knowing this kind of thing can help you make smart financial plans so you can live a fulfilling life now.

So, how long do you the people in your area usually live? For starters, Canadian adults tend to live longer than those in most places around the world, so you can relax a bit. But let’s look at some more details.

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What is life expectancy? 

Life expectancy refers to how long the average person is expected to live. Certain factors you were born with can affect your expected lifespan, such as your genetics and where you were born. But the number of years you’re expected to live can also change during your lifetime, due to factors like your lifestyle and overall quality of life.

When Statistics Canada measures an entire population’s longevity, they can consider several options:

1. Life expectancy at birth

Life expectancy at birth is the number of years that a baby is expected to live based on how long most people live in a certain area. This number is an average and doesn’t take into account any risk factors like health problems or other things that could affect how long someone actually lives. We’ll be talking about the average life expectancy at birth in Canada in this article.

2. Life expectancy at different ages

As people age, Statistics Canada will also take a look at how their life expectancy has changed. For instance, they may re-measure expectancy at age 20 or age 60. What may have been the ordinary life expectancy for the average person at birth might be significantly different by the time they’re in their 30s.

3. Health-adjusted life expectancy 

Health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) measures how long someone is expected to live in good health, but it also considers quality and quantity of life. It looks at updated metrics about how likely it is that someone will contract a deadly disease (morbidity), and the average age of death on a provincial level (mortality). In some ways, it’s a measure of population health.

What factors affect life expectancy?

The most common factors that affect how long you can expect to live are:

  • Genetics. This can influence how likely it is that someone could contract chronic diseases or health conditions that can affect their lifespan.
  • Health. Contracting a serious disease could lower how long you’re expected to live. For example, the expectancy for people diagnosed with a critical illness will be lower than normal.
  • Geographic location. Ordinary life expectancy also depends on where you live. This is because certain diseases may be more common in different areas, or residents may not have high-quality medical care.
  • Environmental factors. If you’re exposed to pollution, harmful toxins, or climate change side effects, that can cut down on your lifespan and affect your health.
  • Socio-economic status. Your finances can affect things like whether you can live in a healthy environment and access high-quality medical care when you need it.
  • Health care utilization. Similarly to the point above, whether you can access the kind of care you need to life a long, healthy life will necessarily impact how long you can expect to live.
  • Lifestyle. This is directly related to health, and anything related to health impacts your longevity. Activities that can cause poor health or lead to a premature death, like smoking or drinking, or risky hobbies like bungee jumping can all have an impact.
  • Occupation. Some jobs may put workers in harm’s way more than others. If a job exposes you to harmful materials or conditions, that could affect your longevity.
Knowing the average life expectancy for your demographics can help you live a more fulfilling life now.

Is life expectancy the same as the average age of death? 

Average life expectancy and the average age of death are similar, but not quite the same.

Life expectancy is based on statistical data and takes into account the chances of people dying at different ages. The average age of death, on the other hand, simply refers to the average age at which people in a population have died.

In a way, the average age of death confirms how accurate the life expectancy rate is.

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What’s the average life expectancy in Canada? 

The Canadian life expectancy is around 82 years old. But on average people live until about 75. Also, the average health-adjusted life expectancy is 69.7 years of age.

But keep in mind that the average life expectancy also depends on the province you live in and your gender. Generally, life expectancy for women is higher than for men. In Canada, men can expect to live until at least age 79, while women can expect to live until around age 82.

Unfortunately, life expectancy is lower than average in many of Canada’s Native territories, where many Indigenous peoples live. But even in this case, people still tend to live longer than the global average of about 74 years of age.

The chart below provides a breakdown of the average life expectancy in Canada based on age and province.

Average life expectancy in Canada by province

Province Overall average Avg. for women Avg. for men
Alberta 81 years 84 years 79 years
British Columbia 82 years 80 years 85 years
Manitoba 80 years 84 years 79 years
New Brunswick 81 years 83 years 79 years
Newfoundland and Labrador 80 years 82 years 78 years
Northwest Territories 77 years 79 years 75 years
Nova Scotia 80 years 83 years 78 years
Nunavut 71 years 73 years 68 years
Ontario 82 years 84 years 80 years
Prince Edward Island 82 years 84 years 80 years
Quebec 83 years 84 years 81 years
Saskatchewan 80 years 83 years 78 years
Yukon 79 years 81 years 76 years

*Statistics Canada data from 2018-2020 in number of years and rounded to the nearest whole.

Which Canadian city has the highest life expectancy? 

No one particular city has the highest estimate of life expectancy across all of Canada. At least, not any that Statistics Canada has pointed out.

As seen in the chart above, people tend to live the longest in Quebec, followed by British Columbia and then Ontario. In particular, some British Columbian cities — namely Richmond and Victoria — had been recognized for having expected lifespans above the national average. But this was several years ago, from 2005 to before 2020. In Richmond, British Columbia, the average lifespan had reached as high as 83.4 years at one point.

In general, “rich” cities where a lot of wealthy people live have higher rates of healthy life expectancy. This is because socio-economic status can have a huge impact on whether residents can access quality healthcare. More on that below.

Which Canadian city has the lowest life expectancy? 

Just as with the previous question, no particular Canadian city has the lowest estimate of life expectancy in the country.

However, what’s interesting is that in 2005, the Nunavik territory located in Quebec reportedly had the lowest life expectancy. The average lifespan for that territory was 66.7 years back then — even below the global average of 69.2 at the time. This is a shocking contrast because Quebec has the highest life expectancy of all Canadian provinces. And, if you’ll recall, 2005 was the same year Richmond, BC, was recording an ordinary life expectancy of 83.4 — much higher than Nunavik’s.

As we mentioned, populations in Canadian territories tend to have lower lifespans than the Canadian average. In 2020, Nunavut was the province with the lowest average lifespans across all of Canada. The challenge is a serious and complex issue. It has to do with several factors, including access to healthcare and socio-economic differentials. These can lead to premature deaths that, in turn, lower how long people are expected to live.

Has the average life expectancy in Canada changed?

Over time, the expected lifespan of humans tends to change for the better. Society changes, and we develop new medicines and technologies that improve our way of life and help us to live longer, healthier lives.

In Canada, much like in other developed parts of the world, the average expected lifespan has been steadily increasing. But, COVID-19-related deaths took a toll on these gains in life expectancy. As a result, in 2020, Canada had a significant loss of life expectancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the most common cause of death in Canada?

Statistics Canada has confirmed that the most common cause of death in Canada is cancer, followed closely by heart disease. Statistics show that 1 in every 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.

Cancer and heart disease are common critical illnesses in Canada.

This is why PolicyAdvisor recommends critical illness insurance so strongly for Canadians. The chances of getting cancer are too high to not have a plan in place to protect your family if the worst should happen.

Learn more about critical illness insurance and cancer coverage

How many Canadians live to be 100 years old? 

As of 2022, around 9,500 people in Canada lived to be 100 years old. Becoming a centenarian, as they are called, sounds fantastic (and it is!). But consider that number in perspective. Canada’s total population in 2022 was more than 1,050,000. That means just about 0.03% of Canadians live to see their 100th birthday.

While Canada’s average life expectancy is pretty impressive in general, we’re sorry to say that your chances of living quite that long may be a tad slim.

❝PolicyAdvisor recommends critical illness insurance so strongly for Canadians [because] the chances of getting cancer are too high to not have a plan in place to protect your family if the worst should happen.❞

– Jason Goveas, Senior Insurance Advisor, PolicyAdvisor.com

 

What’s the average life expectancy around the world?

The average life expectancy in the world is 73.4, according to data from the United Nations. As we can see, Canada is usually recognized among the countries with long average lifespans. Maybe we’re not always in the Top 10, but we’re usually in the Top 25, and that’s something to boast about.

And, just as with the Canadian population, the expectancy of females around the world is higher than the expectancy of males.

According to the United Nations, the country with the longest life expectancy in 2024 is Monaco, at 87.01 years. On the other hand, the country with the shortest life expectancy is Chad, at 53.68 years. Note that the overall socio-economic status of a country affects this. Monaco is a high-income country, while Chad is a low-income country.

We’ve provided a chart below if you’re curious about what kind of average lifespans people have in other countries around the world.

Average life expectancy in countries around the world

Country Overall average Avg. for women Avg. for men
Canada 82 years 84 years 80 years
United States 77 years 80 years 75 years
United Kingdom 81 years 83 years 79 years
Australia 83 years 85 years 81 years
China 78 years 81 years 75 years
France 82 years 85 years 79 years
India 70 years 72 years 69 years
Jamaica 72 years 74 years 70 years
Japan 85 years 88 years 82 years
Kenya 63 years 65 years 60 years
Mexico 70 years 74 years 66 years
Nigeria 53 years 53 years 52 years
Pakistan 66 years 69 years 64 years
Switzerland 83 years 85 years 81 years
Thailand 79 years 84 years 75 years

*From World Bank data as of 2020, in number of years and rounded to the nearest whole. This is not an inclusive list. You can find a list of countries by life expectancy from official organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, or World Health Organization.

Why is Canada’s life expectancy so high?

Canada has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Yeah, it’s ok to go ahead and brag. There are many factors that contribute to this. For instance, our high standard of living, relatively easy access to healthcare, and our support for healthy lifestyles. Some studies also suggest a highly educated population will live longer. Oh, yeah, and the publicly-funded Canadian Health Care System doesn’t hurt either. So don’t forget to thank your family doctor for keeping you in tip-top shape!

Is wealth related to life expectancy? 

Yes, there is a strong link between life expectancy and wealth. High-income countries generally have higher lifespan expectancies than low-income countries.

The same is true on an individual level. People who live in wealthier areas tend to have higher life expectancies. There is a major difference in life expectancy based on socio-economic status.

Wealthier people have better access to healthcare and can expect better health outcomes in the event that they run into any health concerns. They can afford more advanced medical attention, as well as healthier lifestyles.

Think about your favourite celebrity. Now ask yourself, do you think they’re going to the same doctor or gym as you? Sorry if we’re bursting your bubble, but the vast majority of us aren’t likely to run into Mr. Reynolds at the clinic anytime soon.

What does life expectancy have to do with life insurance? 

Let’s bring it back to our area of expertise: life insurance. Life expectancy and getting a life insurance policy are strongly related. How long someone is expected to live can affect:

Health and lifespan are two of the critical factors insurers look at when someone applies for a policy. Most of the other factors, like your age and whether or not you smoke, are related to this. Ultimately, insurance companies want to avoid risk. So, they consider how likely it is that you will pass away unexpectedly — and how likely it is that they will have to make a payout to your family. Life expectancy helps them determine this risk.

Check out our Learning Centre to read more about what affects life insurance premiums. Or schedule a call with our licensed insurance advisors if you’re thinking about how best you can protect your family financially for the future.

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By Jason Reynold Goveas
Senior Insurance Advisor, LLQP
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