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What are the leading causes of death in Canada?

Cancer and heart disease are still the leading causes of death across Canada.

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Every year, Statistics Canada records the number of deaths across Canada — and the major diseases that Canadians are dying from. We combed through this data to find the leading causes of death, as well as which conditions were different among men and women.

The 10 leading causes of death in Canada

To get these numbers, we looked at the latest Statistics Canada latest mortality data (2019). Interestingly, we learned that the ranking of most of the top 10 leading causes of death didn’t change between 2018 and 2019, except accidental deaths surpassed cerebrovascular diseases to reach the number 3 spot. Also, unlike in 2018, more people died from diabetes then from the flu or pneumonia. Generally speaking, however, the data shows that Canadians are falling victim to the same diseases and health conditions year-after-year.

How do leading causes of death in Canada compare for men and women?

For both men and women, the top 2 leading causes of death were cancer and heart disease.

However, men had a relatively higher incidence of accidents and suicide, while more women died from cerebrovascular diseases and chronic lower respiratory diseases. These differences aside, the list of common deaths was made up of the usual suspects, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and pneumonia.

Take a look at the graphs and tables below to get a more detailed picture on the 10 leading causes of death in Canada.

RankCause of deathTotal number of deaths
1Cancer80,152
2Heart disease52,541
3Accidents13,746
4Cerebrovascular diseases13,660
5Chronic lower respiratory diseases12,823
6Diabetes6,912
7Flu and pneumonia6,893
8Alzheimer’s disease6,166
9Suicide4,012
10Kidney diseases3,767

What are chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRDs)?

CLRDs are conditions that affect the lungs, such as:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Occupational lung diseases

While these diseases are typically associated with smoking, non-smokers can also contract them.

Disclosing smoking to your life insurance provider

The top 10 causes of death for men

These were the leading causes of death among Canadian men. Interestingly, instances of all top 10 causes of death for men increased in 2019 compared to 2018, with the exception of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases and flu and pneumonia which all decreased.

RankCause of deathNumber of deaths
1Cancer42,848
2Heart disease28,292
3Accidents7,829
4Chronic lower respiratory diseases6,342
5Cerebrovascular diseases5,958
6Diabetes3,882
7Flu and pneumonia3,265
8Suicide3,058
9Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis2,365
10Alzheimer’s disease1,989

The top 10 causes of death for women

As for Canadian women, the incidence of accidents were higher in 2019 as opposed to 2018. All other top 10 causes of death were less in 2019.

RankCause of deathNumber of deaths
1Cancer37,304
2Heart disease24,249
3Cerebrovascular diseases7,702
4Chronic lower respiratory diseases6,481
5Accidents5,917
6Alzheimer’s disease4,177
7Flu and pneumonia3,628
8Diabetes3,030
9Kidney diseases1,863
10Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis1,297

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What’s the average age of death in Canada?

With all this talk of death, it’s important to keep in mind that the average age of death in Canada is still relatively high. The average life expectancy is 79.9 years for men and 84.1 years for women. While there are many factors that can impact your life expectancy, like your environment and family history, the majority of Canadians live long lives.

How we collected this data

To learn about the leading causes of death among Canadians, we turned to the Statistics Canada mortality data. Statistics Canada analyzes deaths and diseases each year, with the most recent data focused on 2019. We’ll update this page as new data is released.

Compare life insurance companies

While no one can predict the future, life insurance can be a good way to help your loved ones even if the worst should happen. If you’re thinking about getting life insurance, compare quality providers in the list below.

Name Product Types of Insurance Coverage Range Issue Ages Medical Exam Required Province Availability
PolicyMe Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island
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TermLite Term Life Insurance
Term Life
$10,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 80 years old
No
All of Canada
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Term Life
$50,000 - $25,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Select from two unique RBC term life insurance plans to get flexible and affordable coverage that suits your lifestyle and budget. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Manulife Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 70 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
Manulife's CoverMe Term life insurance is simple and straightforward coverage that suits your lifestyle and budget. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Empire Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Empire Life offers affordable, flexible term life insurance coverage and can provide lifetime coverage if needed. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
BMO Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
BMO Term life insurance provides you with coverage for 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Desjardins Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Desjardins offers a number of different term life insurance options to cover fixed-term needs including lifestyle protection and mortgage coverage. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Wawanesa Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Wawanesa offers simple and straightforward term life insurance coverage. Choose from single and joint coverage options. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Canada Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Choose from 4 different term life insurance options from Canada Life. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Canada Protection Plan Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 70 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
Canada Protection Plan's Preferred Term life insurance is suitable for those in good health. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Assumption Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $4,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
Choose from five different term life insurance plans with Assumption Life. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Sun Life Go Simplified Term Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $100,000
18 - 69 years old
No
All of Canada
Sun Life Go Simplified Term Life Insurance covers you for 10 years, during which time your premiums are guaranteed not to rise. Apply for up to $100,000 in coverage.
Sun Life Go Term Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 69 years old
No
All of Canada
Sun Life Go Term Life Insurance is a standard term life insurance option that guarantees your premiums in the first 10 or 20 years of your policy.
Sun Life Go Guaranteed Life Insurance
Whole Life
$5,000 - $25,000
30 - 74 years old
No
All of Canada
Permanent life insurance coverage that guarantees fixed premiums until 95 years old (and no premiums thereafter).
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Whole Life, Term Life, Universal, No Medical
$25,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario
PolicyAdvisor is a digital life insurance brokerage that has partnerships with 20 insurers in Canada.
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How do life insurance companies assess your life expectancy?

The general rule is that the healthier you are, the less you’ll have to pay for life insurance. Each insurance provider has its own underwriting process. As such, some put more weight on certain evaluation factors over others. Take a look at a few points that will be assessed:

  • Age. How old you are plays possibly the biggest role in determining your premiums. The younger you are, the lower your premiums will typically be.
  • Gender. Women typically end up with lower premiums than men, mostly due to women having a higher average life expectancy.
  • Certain health indicators. When a medical exam or medical questions are involved, your weight, height, blood pressure and any history of major diseases or medical conditions help determine your premiums.
  • Family health history. Major health conditions and diseases in your immediate family are likely taken into account. Cancer, cardiac arrest, kidney disease and stroke are among what may affect your premiums.
  • Smoking. General frequency, and the last time you smoked before your medical exam, will likely be considered when determining how much you’ll pay in premiums.
  • Substance use. Alcohol or drug use that has resulted in doctor-mandated rehabilitation and illegal substance abuse are likely to increase your premiums. Life insurance companies generally believe that if you avoid or moderate these substances, you’ll be prevented from getting their associated diseases.
  • High-risk occupations and hobbies. Certain occupations and hobbies are considered riskier than others. Being a lumberjack is objectively more dangerous than working in accounting. Likewise, a skydiving hobby will earn your application more scrutiny than needlepoint.
  • Driving and criminal records. Several tickets within a short period of time, DUIs and arrests can contribute to what your policy costs.

Bottom line

Understanding the leading causes of death is just one of many factors life insurance companies will take into account when determining your rates. A good life insurance policy can protect your family financially if you pass away prematurely, and give you the peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of when you’re gone. To get great coverage at a premium you can afford, compare life insurance companies.

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