June 28, 2012
Seniors will rise to nearly one-quarter of Canada’s population by 2031
Statistics Canada has just released its latest (i.e., 2011) census data relating to the seniors component of the overall Canadian population.
This is important because it has implications for health care and the need for retirement homes.
The changes will come in incremental stages at first. Over the next 20 years, however, it will seem as though the make-up of the population has been overtaken by a tidal wave.
In 2011, the proportion of Canadians aged 65 and older was 14.8% of the total population, up from 13.7% in the previous census conducted five years earlier in 2006.
The proportion will keep climbing in the years ahead, as the Post World War II baby boom generation moves further into its “golden years”.
The entirety of the boomer generation will reach age 65 by 2031. At that time, the share of seniors in the total population will be 23%.
According to Statistics Canada, baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1965. Therefore, only the boomers born in 1946 reached the age of 65 in 2011.
There is an enormous crest coming behind those “pioneers.”
There are currently 9.6 million baby boomers in Canada. That’s nearly three in every ten Canadians.
Keep in mind that the baby-boomer age group, currently 46 to 65, has been augmented by strong levels of adult immigrants over the past 20 years.
Baby boomers are still almost entirely contained within the working age population. The ratio of the labour force to seniors is about to alter dramatically.
The designation “working age population” requires some explanation.
Statistics Canada, in its deliberations, adopts three major age groupings: 1) children, aged 14 and younger; 2) the working age population, aged 15 to 64; and 3) seniors, aged 65 plus.
The latest numbers for each category are as follows: 5.6 million children; 22.9 million working-aged persons; and 4.9 million seniors. The addition comes to 33.4 million.
The number of seniors is growing at a rate about double the nation’s population as a whole.
In the past five years, the number of seniors has risen by 14.1%. The working age population has risen by 5.7% and children 14 and under by 0.5%.
Those percentage changes compare with the overall population increase in the country, 2006 to 2011, of 5.9% (or approximately 1.2% per year).
The relatively slow growth in the number of children aged 14 and under masks another perhaps surprising development.
Between 2006 and 2011, there was a surge in the number of births.
The population of children aged four and under increased 11.0%.
That was the strongest advance for the four-and-under age grouping since the period between 1956 and 1961, near the end of the official baby boom.
In other words, another (mini) baby boom has recently been underway.
So don’t put away the design drawings for elementary schools just yet.
It should be stressed, however, that the current baby boom is a relatively pale imitation of the original.
A separate Statistics Canada report, titled Generations in Canada, makes the following comparisons.
Between 1946 and 1965, over eight million babies were born in Canada. The annual average was 412,000.
In 2008, the baby count was slightly less at 378,000, despite the population of the country being twice as large.
The fertility rate – average number of births per woman of child-bearing age – was 3.7 during the baby boom. It has since fallen to 1.7.
Let’s conclude by returning to the subject of seniors and examining some regional patterns.
The highest proportions of the elderly in the total population are in the Atlantic Region (16.0%), Quebec (15.9%) and British Columbia (15.7%).
Remember that the total Canada figure is 14.8%.
In 2011, Alberta (11.1%) had the lowest number of seniors relative to its population among all the provinces.
The three territories also had seniors’ populations, as a percentage of the whole that were much lower than the national average – Yukon (9.1%), Northwest Territories (5.8%) and Nunavut (3.3%).
Among Canada’s major cities, Calgary had the lowest share of seniors in 2011 at 9.8%.
At the other end of the spectrum, four cities spread across the land had a seniors’ population that bordered on one in every five individuals: Peterborough, Ontario (19.5%); Trois-Rivieres, Quebec (19.4%); Kelowna, British Columbia (19.2%); and Victoria (18.4%).
The number one haven for seniors in Canada is Qualicum Beach in B.C., where nearly half (47.2%) the population is aged 65-plus.
Qualicum Beach lies next to the Strait of Georgia, north along the coast from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
Elliot Lake, Ontario (35.1%) is also well known for its preponderance of older inhabitants.
Finally, you might be interested to know that the 2011 census found 5,825 people in Canada aged 100 and older. In 2006, the number of centenarians was 4,635. In 2001, it was 3,795.
The growth rate in this extreme age grouping is on a steep upward trajectory.