Statistics Canada says Covid-19 disruptions are likely behind a historic drop in the number of marriages registered during the earliest days of the pandemic.

The federal agency says vital statistics data from 2020 reveals the lowest annual number of marriages since 1938 and the largest annual drop since records began in 1921.

It says 98,355 marriages were registered in Canada in 2020 — one-third lower than in 2019.

StatCan notes the decline coincided with widespread precautions introduced mid-March that included lockdowns, gathering restrictions, travel bans and the closure of non-essential retail.

The drop was also more severe in Ontario and eastward, where early Covid-19 precautions were generally more strict than out west. The decline ranged from an 18 per cent drop in Saskatchewan to 49 per cent in Quebec.

StatCan says it expects more marriages took place in 2021 as many restrictions eased.

Preliminary data from several regions show an uptick in 2021 marriages, but that numbers were still lower than in the pre-pandemic period, it said in a report released Monday.

StatCan says 2020 also saw a record 25 per cent drop in the number of divorces, likely due to pandemic-related slowdowns in court proceedings.

—By The Canadian Press

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