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October 16, 2023 | Pensions

What shocking effect did we see in Canadian excess deaths in 2022? And what does it mean for DB pension plan sponsors?

Answer from Alexandra Sonnenwirth, Director of Client delivery at Club Vita

Canadian excess deaths (based on pre-pandemic expectations) have increased considerably since the beginning of 2022. While they were at 5.7% in 2020, 7.5% in 2021, excess deaths reached 13.5% in 2022[1]; a far larger number than in the US (≈10% in 2022) and in England (≈6% in 2022). While the number of COVID deaths increased, so did the number of non-COVID related deaths. See chart here.

The last major wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was the Omicron wave that occurred in January-February 2022. Since then, excess deaths remained persistently high (after a brief dip in February-March). There are also some significant regional variations in excess death levels, with western Canada (BC, AB, SK) experiencing the highest levels of excess deaths (16-20% more deaths than expected). While COVID-19 is still an important driver, cause of death data suggests that other factors are contributing to excess mortality in Canada.

How much DB plans reflect these elevated levels of mortality in their future assumptions will depend on how long they are expected to continue, and whether these population level experiences are reflected in the DB pension population.

What do you think? How will you allow for this emerging picture when modeling future mortality?


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[1] The figures presented are for the general Canadian population. Statistics Canada
(Table 13-10-0792-01)