CALGARY: The Justice Centre today released a new Report entitled, Excess deaths contradict narrative of success, which draws attention to 2020-22 excess deaths in Canada and suggests that these have been caused by the indirect impacts of Canadian government covid lockdown policies. This Report concludes that any evaluation of the success of Canadian governments’ responses to the covid pandemic must also thoroughly consider the harms caused by those responses.
Canadian governments, media organizations, and medical associations are now assessing the success of the Canadian response to the covid pandemic. High vaccination rates, high public compliance rates, and low covid mortality rates are often cited as reasons to assume that Canada’s response to the pandemic has been successful. Further, this narrative of success is often cited as a model for future policy responses (e.g., additional lockdowns and vaccination mandates) to the developing covid pandemic. In this Report, we challenge this narrative, showing instead that any assessment of the success of the Canadian response must include reference to the excess deaths caused by (what appear to be) the most stringent and sustained lockdown policies in the world.
Specifically, this Report draws attention to the fact that there were nearly 8,000 excess deaths (i.e., unexpected deaths, according to Statistics Canada) in the second half of 2021. During almost every week of that period, the number of non-covid excess deaths was greater than the number of covid deaths. These were likely caused by drug overdoses and delayed and cancelled medical procedures–the indirect impacts of stringent and sustained lockdown policies. This analysis has been corroborated by the Canadian Medical Association and Deloitte: “[D]elayed or missed health care services may have contributed to more than 4,000 excess deaths not related to covid-19 infections between August and December 2020.”
Further, this analysis has been corroborated by Statistics Canada: “[T]o some extent, this shift [in excess deaths] may be caused by indirect effects of the pandemic, such as missed medical appointments and increased substance use.” We suggest that 2022 excess deaths are likely attributable to the same causes.
“Canadian governments have a legal obligation to demonstrate that any restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms are justifiable and the least restrictive means to solve a problem. As we approach the two-and-a-half-year mark of the covid pandemic in Canada, it is important that Canadians critically evaluate the responses of their governments to the pandemic. These responses have seen Canadians denied their vital healthcare services, prevented from seeing their loved ones in nursing homes, removed from their places of work, education, worship, and recreation, and forced into isolation,” notes lawyer John Carpay, Justice Centre President.
“To claim that Canada’s response to the pandemic has been successful is to ignore the immense social and medical harms experienced by Canadians. There is still time for Canadian governments to craft responsible and humane policy responses to covid,” adds Mr. Carpay.