Many developed countries have large populations of seniors, including Canada. The latest census revealed there are now more seniors than children in the country. This is a dramatic change for the country’s population. Here’s what you need to know about the senior population in Canada.
The Senior Population in Canada
According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 census figures, there are now 5.9 million seniors in Canada. There are only 5.8 million children—defined as 14 years and under—in Canada. This is the first time seniors have outnumbered children.
This historic change in the population happened quickly. Since 2011, the number of people over 65 increased by 20 percent. The overall population only grew by five percent during that period.
This population imbalance is projected to grow. By 2061, there could be 12 million seniors in Canada, and only eight million children.
Reasons for Changing Demographics in Canada
Between 1946 and 1965, Canada experienced a baby boom. More than 8.2 million babies were born during these years. These babies grew up to be what we know as the “baby boomers,” a very large demographic cohort. In the past five years, the first baby boomers started reaching retirement age. As the rest of the baby boomers age and reach retirement, the rate that at which the population ages will only accelerate.
A longer life expectancy is another reason Canada’s senior population is getting so large. Today’s seniors enjoy longer lives than the seniors of the past. In 1921, a 55-year-old person could expect to live for another 20 years. In 2011, 55-year-olds could expect to live for another 29 years. This increase has also been seen for elderly people. A 90-year-old person in 1921 could expect to live for another 3.4 years. In 2011, 90-year-olds could expect to live for another 5.3 years.
Lower fertility rates are another factor contributing to Canada’s aging population. Since the 1970s, fertility rates in Canada have been low. Since fewer children are being born, seniors represent a larger proportion of the population.
Current Impacts of the Aging Population
The aging population is having some big impacts around the country. One of the major impacts is that older people tend to need more healthcare and home care than younger people. This is already causing strain on our healthcare system. Many seniors are on wait lists for long-term care facilities. In 2012-13 in Ontario, there were 34,312 people on waiting lists to get into their preferred facilities.
The waiting lists are so long because there aren’t enough spaces in long-term care facilities. The facilities aren’t necessarily full of people who need round-the-clock care. Some facilities are crowded with people who could be cared for at home. That’s why adult children should talk about senior home care with their parents or other elderly family members.
What to Expect in the Future
Since the senior population in Canada is projected to keep increasing, the impacts of the aging population will only get more serious. By 2026, Canada will need to create another 131,000 spaces for seniors in long-term care homes and retirement homes. If the government doesn’t act, waiting lists will continue to get longer.
There will also be a much greater need for home care services in the future. The demand for home care services is projected to increase at a rate of 3.1 percent every year for the next decade. By 2026, there will be 2.4 million Canadian seniors who need continuing care support (either paid or unpaid). That’s a whopping 71 percent increase from 2011. These seniors may need senior care options like personal care services or homemaker services. Some could even need 24/7 care due to conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s.