Government data shows lockdowns more deadly than COVID-19: Fewer Canadians died in 2020 than in 2019

Editor’s Note: The Justice Centre is a public interest, non-partisan law firm and registered charity, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms provides legal representation free of charge, to protect the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, which are guaranteed under our constitution.

Opinion by the Justice Centre

CALGARY – The Justice Centre  released a Charter analysis on the impact of lockdowns on the lives of Canadians.

Titled “Flying Blind,” this Charter analysis demonstrates that Canada’s federal and provincial governments have not properly and adequately considered the specific nature and the full extent of lockdown harms that result from the violations of Charter freedoms to move, travel, assemble, associate and worship.

Fewer Canadians are dying in 2020

With COVID-19 touted by politicians and chief medical officers as an unusually deadly killer that everyone should fear greatly, one might expect an increase in death rates amongst Canadians. But in fact, deaths for the period from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, compared for 2016 through 2020, show that fewer Canadians are dying in 2020 than in 2019, even while Canada’s population grows.

Mortality rates by age group are unaffected by COVID-19, and fewer Canadians are dying since this virus arrived in Canada:
Fewer Canadians dying of cancer, heart disease, stroke and flu

Government data and statistics also record fewer people dying of cancer, heart diseases, lung diseases, stroke, pneumonia and flu, since the arrival of COVID-19 in Canada.

As 8,795 deaths with COVID-19 were recorded, there were 10,295 fewer deaths ascribed to cancer, heart diseases, lung diseases, stroke, pneumonia and influenza.

“Government records indicate that deaths from cancer, heart diseases, lung diseases, stroke, pneumonia and influenza have dropped by more than 10,000 during the first eight months of 2020, and are at their lowest point in years,” states Justice Centre President John Carpay.

Deaths resulting from over 200,000 cancelled surgeries

On September 1, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study estimating that by June 13, Ontario alone had accumulated a backlog of 148,000 procedures(1) that would take 84 weeks to clear. In October, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada released a Report which compared the number of surgeries performed during the last two weeks of March 2020 with the equivalent period of time in 2019 and estimated that during that two-week period alone, there were 73,500 fewer surgeries performed, year over year.(2) According to a report by Ontario’s own Financial Accountability Office, as of April 22, an estimated 52,700 hospital procedures had been cancelled in Ontario due to the coronavirus pandemic. This report(3) further predicted that for every week that the COVID-19 outbreak continued, a further 12,200 procedures would be delayed.

In April, the University Health Network in Ontario released a study(4) suggesting that after just six weeks into a ten-week shutdown of what were said to be non-essential surgeries, as many as 35 cardiac-care patients might have died after their heart surgeries were cancelled to free up beds for the anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients(5) (which never came). The Network reported that in April 2020, in addition to fewer cardiac surgeries, there were 38 per cent fewer cancer surgeries, 73 per cent fewer vascular surgeries, 81 per cent fewer transplant surgeries, 94 per cent fewer pediatric surgeries and 96 per cent fewer other adult surgeries compared with April 2019.(6) Health Minister Christine Elliott expressed regret over the 35 reported deaths, but said that Ontario’s actions during the pandemic (had) saved thousands of lives.(7)

“How many more Ontarians died, in addition to the 35 deaths admitted, because of cancelled surgeries, which did not resume until the end of May?” asks Carpay.

Every quarter, Ontario performs about 3,100 breast-cancer surgeries. Like any serious surgical intervention, every one of these surgeries should be considered medically necessary. But in the first quarter of 2020, only 2,266 breast-cancer surgeries were performed as Ontario cleared out hospitals to make way for a wave of COVID-19 sufferers that never came.

“Did the Government of Ontario know, consider, or try to find out what the consequences would be, for the roughly 850 women whose essential surgery was delayed for at least two months?” asks Carpay.

Media have reported on individual deaths where surviving family members were willing to go public with their stories. For example:

In Medicine Hat, Alberta, 46-year-old Jerry Dunham died of heart failure shortly before Father’s Day, leaving behind two grieving daughters ages six and eight, because an operation to install a defibrillator was cancelled as part of the government’s lockdown measures.(8)

Jasmine Yang, 60, was a Surrey woman whose scheduled surgery to treat ovarian cancer was deferred when British Columbia cancelled non-emergency surgeries such as hers.  She died two days before she was due to be treated in a rescheduled operation.(9)

In Surrey, Chris Walcroft, a 50-year-old father of two, died on April 15 after a scheduled surgery to prepare his kidney for dialysis was cancelled the day before he was to receive it.(10)

In Ottawa, Martin Hawdur, 70, died after an aortic aneurysm ruptured.  Diagnosed at the end of November of 2019, he was told surgery was “crucial” and that the operation would take place as soon as it could be arranged.  On February 28, 2020, he was told the surgery would be in April. On March 15, as part of the lockdown measures, the Ontario government ordered all hospitals to curtail “elective” (non-emergency) surgeries. He died May 14. His surgery had still not been scheduled.(11)

Aaron Ogden of Yorkton, SK died in a few weeks after his scheduled CT scan was cancelled August 2020.(12) He was only 19.

Death from cancelled or delayed diagnosis

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, every day no less than 617 people are diagnosed with cancer(13), which would be 37,534 diagnoses over a period of two months. If diagnoses are not provided, people still get cancer. If the cancer is untreated or if treatment is delayed there will be serious and often deadly consequences.

UK scientists(14) warned in July that delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment due to lockdown measures could cause at least 7,000 additional deaths in the UK alone, and as many as 35,000 deaths in a worst-case scenario. The UK has not quite twice the population of Canada(15), suggesting 3,500 to 17,500 Canadian deaths if our lockdowns had the same impact on Canadians that UK lockdowns have had in the UK.

Every month, Ontario performs between 141,000 and 158,000 MRIs and CT scans. As with surgeries, a high degree of necessity is assumed, with potentially serious consequences if the MRI or CT scan is cancelled.


What happened to the more than 200,000 Ontarians who should have been tested, but were not?  Assuming that other provinces provide the same level of DIPs to their citizens as Ontario, and assuming that lockdown reductions in other provinces had a similar impact, it is entirely reasonable to assume that 500,000 or more Canadians did not receive timely diagnostic procedures.

Additional deaths from suicide

Every year, approximately 4,000 Canadians commit suicide(16), one third of them aged 45-59. Lockdown measures introduced in March of 2020 increased unemployment from 5.6% in February to 13.7% by May, putting and put 2.7 million Canadians out of work.(17)

In a pre-COVID study at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, Professor Ron Kneebone provided a precise estimate of the all-Canada link between unemployment and suicide: “A one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate increases the suicide rate by 2.1 percent.”(18) The 8.1% increase in Canada’s unemployment rate, multiplied by 2.1, means a 17% increase in the suicide rate. That in turn would equate to 680 additional deaths over the course of a year, based on the established rate of 4,000 suicides per year.More significantly, these likely 680 additional suicides would only be those related to unemployment.

Millions of Canadians have been cut off from meaningful connections with friends, family members, team-mates in a sports league, co-religionists at houses of worship, and a multitude of fun interactions in various recreational activities and entertainment pursuits. There is no reason to doubt that lockdown measures have driven vulnerable Canadians to kill themselves, apart from the factor of rising unemployment.

Death from accidental drug overdoses

Since the lockdown began, opioid use has soared.

In British Columbia(19) between January 1 and August 31, 2020, 1,068 people died of opioid poisoning, a 51.9% increase over the same period in 2019. Most of the increase came between April and August.  Meanwhile, only 208 British Columbians died with COVID-19 during this eight month period, less than one fifth of the number of opioid deaths.(20)

In Alberta(21), between January 1 and June 30, 2020, 449 people died of opioid poisoning, a 47.2% increase over the same period in 2019 when 305 died. The greatest increase in opioid deaths (307) came in the months of April through June.(22)

In June of 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25% increase in suspected drug-related deaths in the province between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Numbers from other provinces are not yet available. Federal government numbers on national trends during the second quarter (April to June) were not yet available at time of publication.

Hospitals not overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients

Flying Blind sets forth government data and statistics showing that COVID-19 patients were using 2,207 hospital beds as of November 16, in the context of 91,325 hospital beds in Canada: only 2.4% of the beds. The remaining 97.6% of hospital beds are available for more COVID-19 patients and all patients. The same applies to ICU capacity, of which COVID-19 patients were using less than 10%.

Canadian hospitals and emergency wards are frequently overwhelmed by large numbers of patients; “hallway medicine” was already a serious problem long before COVID-19 arrived.

“Politicians appear to be relying on an assumption that, despite higher-than-ever levels of spending on government health care monopolies, it is somehow impossible for the health care system to increase the number of beds and ICU spaces,” states Carpay.

Deaths are a tiny percentage of the feared “cases”

Media consistently fail to inform the public of the fact that the “cases” referred to by public health authorities consist overwhelmingly of people who are not vulnerable to COVID-19 and who experience no harm from the virus. Further, the accuracy of PCR testing has been publicly called into question by medical doctors and infectious disease experts, such that the number of “cases” may well be much lower than what is proclaimed on a daily basis by media headlines.

DateDeathsTestsPositivesDeaths/CasesPos/Tests %

Vast majority of Canadians face no risk from COVID-19

The government’s own data shows that COVID-19 virus is mainly dangerous to older people with pre-existing medical conditions, and harmless for roughly 90% of the population. People over the age of 70 represented 89% of deaths from March 9 to November 2, 2020. Almost all had one or more co-morbid conditions, and the vast majority had three or more serious pre-existing health conditions. Of the 10,208 deaths from March 9 to November 2, only 30 deaths (less than one third of 1%) were under 40 years of age. And this in the context of 300,000 Canadians dying each year, more than 96% of them from causes other than COVID-19.

GDP drops while over 100,000 Canadian businesses are destroyed

Flying Blind reports that lockdown policies destroyed 100,000 Canadian businesses from March through June. Many will never re-open, and it appears likely that many more businesses will close in the months ahead. Lockdowns have thrust millions of Canadians into unemployment, poverty and despair.

The economic impact on the entire country can be summarized by a single statistic: During the second quarter of 2020, Canada’s Gross Domestic Product fell at an annualized rate of 38.7%. And, although the third-quarter results did show some improvement, the Bank of Canada is projecting annualized growth of only one per cent in the final three months of the year, and expects any recovery to be drawn out over the next several quarters.

A shift in the governments’ goal, from possible to impossible

Since March of 2020, politicians as well as unelected health officials have repeatedly referred to the goal of “flattening the curve” for the purpose of preserving capacity in hospitals for COVID-19 patients. To “flatten the curve” is to distribute the same number of cases across a greater unit of time, in order that there might be fewer cases—and therefore, hospitalizations—at the peak of infections. Flying Blind explains that this is a distinct and very different goal from trying to stop the spread of the virus entirely, as this latter goal would require lockdown measures to be far more severe.

“To date, we are unaware of any public health officials having presented Canadians with an historical example of a country or society that succeeded in stopping the spread of a virus by way of locking down the entire population,” states Carpay.

Unjustified violations of Canadians’ Charter freedoms

Flying Blind explains how the risks posed by COVID-19 have been mischaracterized; governments have relied on speculation and exaggerated estimates to justify Charter-violating lockdown policies.

Flying Blind reveals that Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments were under-equipped to make the decisions that faced them as COVID-19 was declared by the World Health Organization to be a pandemic. Decisions made in the belief that they were informed by science were often quickly revealed as ill-conceived, yet were continued, many to this day. Important data that should have informed important decisions was incomplete or out-of-date. Vital questions, in particular the intensity of the potential harms of government actions, were not even asked. Alternatives to locking down the economy and society in response to COVID-19 do not appear to have been considered in the past eight months, nor are they being properly considered at the present time.

“By failing to answer crucial questions as to the scientific basis for their COVID-19 modelling and lockdown measures, governments have violated their legal duty, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to justify their removal of fundamental freedoms from the lives of Canadians,” states Carpay.

“Governments assumed, based on speculation and predictions not on evidence, that the Charter violations would prevent large numbers of deaths; they assumed that COVID-19 would be an unusually deadly killer; they did not think much about lockdown harms, or whether the harms would be greater than any benefits that might exist,” states Carpay.

“Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments have thus far failed to account for the predictable negative consequences of their radical social and economic measures. Violating the fundamental freedoms of an entire population to move, travel, associate, assemble and worship has never been tried in human history as a means of stopping a virus,” commented Carpay.

“In respect of the demonstrated harms that accompany lockdowns, governments still lack sufficient reliable information to justify ongoing violations of the Charter rights and freedoms of Canadians,” states Carpay.

The Great Barrington Declaration

A practical approach to protect the vulnerable without inflicting lockdown harms on the entire population was set out by internationally recognized medical doctors and infectious disease specialists on October 4, 2020. Three respected epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford universities, now joined by over 45,000 other medical professionals, advocate for ‘Focused Protection’ for the vulnerable, while letting the healthy get back to work.

“Under the Charter, all Canadian governments have a legal obligation to consider this alternative, in conjunction with abandoning their wilful blindness towards lockdown harms,” states Carpay.

Other significant lockdown harms

Flying Blind uses data and statistics provided by Canada’s federal and provincial governments which set out deaths from delayed medical treatment, delayed diagnosis, suicide and drug overdoses. Flying Blind does not even begin to address numerous additional lockdown harms such as:

 • the rise in depression, alcoholism, and other addictions as a result of social isolation; child abuse, spousal abuse and family violence;

•harm resulting from denial of access to secondary health providers that Canadians rely on, such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, optometrists, chiropractors, osteopaths, podiatrists and dentists;

•harm from vulnerable seniors being cut off from receiving the necessary care, attention and affection of family members who are prohibited from visiting them;

•harm from patients failing to receive necessary medical care because they were frightened away from hospitals and emergency wards;

•harm from children developing diabetes and other chronic health conditions because they were confined to their homes while schools and playgrounds were closed and athletic and recreational activities were shut down;

•harm from the damaged mental health of children, pressured to live in a state of constant fear and prevented from carefree play time with friends;

•increases in psychiatric disorders and mental illness caused by governments having eliminated social interaction at restaurants, pubs, churches, recreational facilities and community centres;

•harms to mental and psychological health resulting from unemployment, poverty and bankruptcies;

•suffering and mental health damage from government lockdown measures making it illegal to say good-bye to loved ones and to attend funerals;

•the denial of the joy and happiness that comes from gathering with friends and family for social, recreational and spiritual pursuits;

•the harm caused when mothers are deterred by fear of COVID-19 from visiting clinics to ensure that their children are immunized against traditional child-killers such as whooping cough, polio and diphtheria, which are infinitely more dangerous to children than COVID-19;

•the harm from shortage of organ donors;

•the harm from the shortage of blood donors;

•the effects of anxiety over loss of income;

•the negative impact of financial and other stresses on overall mental and physical health

•food insecurity attributable to loss of employment and inability to pay rent;

•adverse impact of school closures on children, particularly poorer children; and

•attention diverted away from other large killers: e.g. Tuberculosis.

The above is only a partial list of lockdown harms that Flying Blind does not address.

“Governments have adequate resources to investigate, track and measure all of these lockdown harms. Governments are required to do so by the Charter, even when they are not getting sued in court,” states Carpay.

Editor’s Note: The Justice Centre is a public interest, non-partisan law firm and registered charity, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms provides legal representation free of charge, to protect the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, which are guaranteed under our constitution.

The Justice Centre was founded in 2010 as a voice for freedom in Canada’s courtrooms, the mission of the Justice Centre is to defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through litigation and education. Their lawyers fight for Canada to become and remain a free society, where the equality of all Canadians and their individual freedoms are celebrated and respected. 

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