The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges for people all over the world. With its wide-ranging impacts on society, the pandemic has triggered significant changes in the economic, social, and health landscape of many countries, including Canada.
As we mark three years since the pandemic began, it is worth examining the key trends that continue to shape the lives of Canadians. Here are four major trends that have emerged in the wake of the pandemic, highlighted in the latest studies by Stats Canada.
Economic resilience amid rising borrowing costs
Despite facing a significant rise in borrowing costs, the Canadian economy has shown remarkable resilience in recent months. GDP growth has outpaced that of other G7 countries since the second quarter of 2021, and output has increased in 16 of the last 18 months. However, activity at real estate agents and brokers contracted for the tenth consecutive month in December 2022, and residential construction has also pulled back as borrowing costs have risen.
Affordability pressures as inflation persists
While headline inflation has eased in the second half of 2022, the cost of living continues to outpace wage growth. This is particularly evident in the cost of food and shelter, which remain elevated. Grocery prices rose 15.8% between December 2020 and December 2022, and the Bank of Canada’s housing affordability index has reached its highest point since 1990.
Population growth and demographic challenges
Canada’s population increased by 362,000 in the third quarter of 2022, the highest quarterly population growth rate since 1957. However, the country’s aging population continues to pose challenges for labor force growth. One in five working-age Canadians is set to retire in the coming years, and the gap between those about to leave the labor market (55- to 64-year-olds) and those entering the labor market (15- to 24-year-olds) is at record levels.
Social impacts on well-being and mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on the mental health and well-being of Canadians, particularly among younger age groups. Self-reported mental health declined sharply during the pandemic. While nearly two-thirds of seniors aged 65 to 74 reporting a strong sense of meaning and purpose, only just over half of 15- to 24-year-olds reported the same. Additionally, the pandemic has contributed to excess mortality among younger Canadians, particularly from deaths attributed to alcohol and drug use.
The pandemic has significantly impacted Canadians’ lives, and it remains to be seen how these trends will continue to evolve as Canadians remain vigilant in the face of these economic and social challenges.
- Download Stats Canada report: How the COVID-19 pandemic changed us