Life expectancy in Canada dropped for the third consecutive year in 2022, with more people dying of Covid-19 than any other year since the outbreak began, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

The report, released Monday, revealed the average life expectancy for Canadians dropped to 81.3 years last year, a full year less than the 82.3 years that was recorded in 2019. 

“Life expectancy declines when there are more deaths, when deaths occur at younger ages, or a combination of both,” the report said.

In 2022, Covid-19 was classified as the third-leading cause of death in Canada, surpassing accidents and unintentional injuries for the first time since 2020. 

“This increase may in part be due to the exposure to new highly transmissible Covid-19 variants and the gradual return to normalcy,” said the report, suggesting that reduced restrictions may be a factor.  

Last year, cancer and heart disease were the first and second most common causes of death respectively, accounting for 41.8% of all deaths in 2022. 

Provincially, New Brunswick had the biggest drop in life expectancy, falling more than a year to 79.8 years from 80.9 years in 2021. 

Life expectancy in Saskatchewan declined the most over the last three years combined, dropping a full two years from 80.5 years in 2019 to 78.5 years in 2022. 

There was also an increase in deaths among young people in 2022 which was attributed partially to deaths under investigation by a coroner, which generally may include suicides, homicides and drug overdoses. 

Over 19,700 Canadians died with Covid-19 in 2022, according to Statistics Canada, with seniors accounting for the majority of those deaths. 

Covid-19 deaths among those 80 years and older increased by 78% last year, when compared to 2021. 

Canadians aged 65 years and older accounted for 91.4% of all Covid-19 deaths last year. 

In Atlantic Canada, the rate of Covid deaths was over seven times higher in 2022 when compared with 2021, the biggest increase in any region in Canada, the report said.