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    Weekly number of deaths in Québec: data sources and methodology

    RED deaths database

    Weekly death counts are taken from the deaths database of the Registre des événements démographiques du Québec (RED), maintained by the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ) as mandated by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS). The MSSS uses this database to monitor the health status of the population, while the ISQ uses it to produce demographic data on the Québec population. It should be noted that the RED deaths database is not intended to provide a real-time estimate of the number of deaths.

    The RED deaths database is created from death bulletins (SP-3), which are sent to the ISQ when a death occurs in Québec. These bulletins come mainly from healthcare facilities (hospitals, CHSLDs, etc.) and palliative-care homes. They may also be sent by the Bureau du coroner in the case of deaths involving an investigation. The database also includes deaths of Québec residents that occurred in other Canadian provinces, whose records are provided by Statistics Canada through its own collection process. Deaths occurring in other countries are included when the information is transmitted to the ISQ.

    The statistics disseminated from the RED deaths database cover all deaths of individuals residing in Québec.

    In order to ensure the best possible completeness and quality, data should be considered final approximately 24 months after the end of a year.

    Currently, data on deaths are final up to 2019.

    Production of preliminary data

    The number of weekly deaths disseminated for 2019 to 2022, which are still preliminary, have been adjusted to take into account the coverage of the database, which is still incomplete. The results for these years are based on the number of records present in the database at the time of production and on an estimate of the number of cases still missing (late registrations, deaths submitted to a coroner, deaths outside Québec). The estimated number of missing cases is based primarily on a historical analysis of the rate at which death bulletins are received and processed.

    Under normal circumstances, it is estimated that approximately 80% of records are entered into the database within 4 weeks following the death. The database completeness rate reaches 90% after 8 weeks and 95% after 26 weeks. The majority of cases that are received late are cases referred to a coroner for which the bulletins are completed at the end of the investigation, as well as deaths that have occurred in other Canadian provinces.

    The adjustment made to the 2019 and early 2020 data is minor given the database completeness for those years, but it is more significant for the most recent weeks. Differential correction factors are applied based on the age group, sex, and region grouping. The data for 2019 and 2020 as well has 2021 up until December 25 (week 51) have been revised using information provided by the Bureau du coroner on cases currently under investigation. The use of additional data from the coroner helps produce a better estimate of the number of deaths. As a result, the data for this period will no longer be revised each time the dataset is updated. They will be revised when they are considered final.

    The additional delay in releasing the data is about 4 weeks for Québec-wide data, and about seven weeks for regional data by age group. These delays are necessary to ensure the quality of the first estimates produced for a given week.

    Cautionary note: Data for the most recent weeks should be interpreted with caution. Due to the current pandemic, the rate of receipt of bulletins may be different from that in the reference period used in the adjustment model. Changes in the rate of receipt are monitored to adjust the correction factors as required.

    Methodological notes

    Universe

    Deaths of individuals residing in Québec, all causes of death.

    Recurrence

    Data for weeks after December 25, 2021 will be updated on July 7, 2022.

    CDC week

    Weeks as defined in several epidemiological studies, including those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    CDC weeks start on a Sunday and end on a Saturday. They are numbered sequentially from 1 to 52 or 53 depending on the year.

    List of CDC weeks by end date, 2010-2022 (PDF, 443.74 KB) (in French only)

    Data status by year

    2010 to 2019: Final data (d).

    2020 to 2022: Preliminary data (p) adjusted to take into account database completeness. Estimated completeness ranges from 99% for the first few weeks of 2020 to approximately 80% for the most recent week of 2021, before the adjustment. Data for the weeks after December 25, 2021 are revised from one release to the next.

    The data for the most recent weeks are more likely to be revised during updates and must be interpreted with greater caution.

    Rounding

    Preliminary data are rounded to a multiple of 5. Subtotals may not add up to totals due to rounding.