A recent CBC News article outlines the most recently Statistics Canada’s 2016 census figures, which show that for the first time, seniors outnumber children in Canada. There are now 5.9 million Canadian seniors, compared to 5.8 million Canadians aged 14 and under.
The number of people over the age of 65 has increased by 20 percent since 2011. Amongst the population of seniors, those over the age of 85 increased by 19.4% and those over 100 increased by 41.3% since 2011.
The aging of the population is due to the first baby boomers turning 65 over the last five years, as well as the increasing life expectancy of Canadians and a low fertility rate.
Projections by Statistics Canada show that the imbalance in population will only grow over the years. By 2031, about 23% of Canadians could be seniors.
This demographic shift will place increasing demands on government spending, including healthcare and home care. In addition, there are just 4.3 million Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24, compared to 4.9 million Canadians between the ages of 55 and 64. This means that there are much fewer people entering the labour market as there are heading for retirement. Many young people are also finding it increasingly difficult to find well-paid, stable employment.
However, if the labour activity rate and productivity increase (which may result if many older Canadians continue to stay in the workforce), that could counteract some of the effects of the aging population.
Canada’s rising senior population also necessitates the need for government preparation in terms of housing and home care, as noted in another CBC News article. The demand for retirement times, supportive housing, and long-term care homes is growing faster than the supply. When it comes to home care, the ultimate challenge is human resources, and as for long-term care homes, many seniors are on wait lists for years. It is argued that the health care system is designed to deal with acute disease, rather than for individuals who are living with one or more chronic conditions, sometimes for years or even decades.