Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, Dec. 13


Posted Dec. 4

Posted March 22

Posted March 16


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney





Mortality rate yet another good reason
to be Canadian

There are many reasons why itís good to be Canadian. Top among them is the fact that we are not Americans.

Further proof of that is the latest life expectancy figures. According to a study conducted south of the border, the average life expectancy for a male born in the United States in 2018 is 76.1 years. Thatís down one-tenth of a year from 2017 and two-tenths since 2016.

One of the biggest reasons for the decrease in life expectancy in the United States are drug overdoses which have been on the rise since the use of synthetic drugs and especially opioids became more widespread five or six years ago.

Meanwhile in Canada, the average life expectancy for a male born in 2018 is 80.9 years. Thatís a difference of nearly five years. Now if youíre 20 or 30 years old, an extra five years at the tail end of your life doesnít seem like a whole lot, but if you are 57 pushing 60, five years is huge.

The average life expectancy for a woman born in the United States in 2018 is 81.1 years. In Canada, women born in 2018 have a life expectancy of 84.7 years.

Looking at it another way: if I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle and avoid any life-threatening diseases, I should expect to live until Iím 81. Anything after that will be a bonus.

What I donít understand is what is your life expectancy if you werenít born this year. In other words, what was the average life expectancy in 1961, the year I was born.

As it turns out it was 71 years and three months, which, coincidentally, happens to be when I plan to retire.

In researching this column, I came across another set of figures which laid out life expectancy by age group, and interestingly enough, a 54-year-old male living in 2015 could expect to live another 30.2 years and a 57-year-old could expect to live another 27.5 years.

Both figures had increased a tenth of a year every year for the past seven or eight years. If I extrapolate those numbers over the past three years, a 57-year-old male like myself can expect to live another 27.8 years. That would take me up to 84 and possibly 85. Things are looking better all the time. In the meantime, my male brethren south of the border will be dropping like flies.

Life expectancy is a very weird term. In reality we shouldnít expect anything, especially when it comes to our own mortality. Itís the classic case of an oxymoron.

I personally donít expect anything beyond 80. My only hope is that if I do live until Iím 85 or even longer, the good Lord will bless me with the health to enjoy those extra years. My dad always said that every day over 80 is a blessing. He will celebrate his 87th birthday in March and except for a few mobility problems is still going strong.

The reason why the World Health Organization and countries like our own keep track of life expectancy is to be able to plan ahead. Estimating how many people will be around in 20 and 30 years is hugely important when planning health care services and estimating how long the Canada Pension Plan will last.

In 2006, there were 1.17 Canadians over the age of 80. By 2017 that number had increased to 1.57 million. Thatís a 30 per cent increase, or roughly 400,000 people, which is massive.

The lesson to be learned in all this is that unless you are a teacher, a health care professional, or a full-time federal government employee with a gold-plated pension, ainít no one going to help you but yourself. It also means a heck of a lot of people are going to have to work a heck of a lot longer before they can ever think of retiring, at least in the traditional sense.

It also means that all those kids who are currently in their 20s will have to wait a lot longer for that wave of retirements theyíve been told about since they were in high school Ė unless of course they want to take care of us themselves.

I always joke about wondering which will happen first Ė retirement or death Ė and right now the odds are on death. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy what-ever years the good Lord allows me. I will also count my blessings that I will likely have an extra five years for no other reason than the fact that I was born on the right side of the 49th parallel.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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