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03 Oct 2017

By the Numbers: The Senior Population in Canada


Topics: Senior Health

Canada’s population is rapidly aging. The first baby boomers reached their senior years in the past five years, and every day, more baby boomers reach this age. The aging of this massive generation of Canadians is having a major impact on the senior population in Canada. Here’s what you need to know about the senior population in Canada.

The Senior Population in Canada Today

The most recent data about Canada’s senior population comes from Statistics Canada’s 2016 census. The census collects demographic data from Canadians. It revealed that there are now 5.9 million seniors in Canada. Five years ago, there were only 4.9 million seniors. This senior population will continue to grow as more baby boomers reach their senior years.

For the first time, there are more seniors than children in the country. There are 5.8 million children in Canada, slightly less than the current number of seniors. Children make up 16.6 percent of the population, while seniors make up 16.9 percent.

Projected Senior Population in Canada

Many of the baby boomers haven’t reached their seniors years yet. The baby boomer generation encompasses people born between about 1946 and 1965. The first of these baby boomers are starting to become seniors, but it will take many years for all the baby boomers to reach retirement age. The last baby boomers, born in 1965, won’t reach their 65th birthdays until 2030.

The imbalance in Canada’s population is projected to continue to grow. By 2031, after all baby boomers have turned 65, 23 percent of the population could be seniors. The population imbalance will only continue to get more severe. According to current projections, there could be 12 million seniors and only eight million children in Canada.

More Seniors Will Need Care

As people get older, they tend to have more health care needs. They have an increased need for assistance from paid or unpaid caregivers.

About one-fifth of seniors need someone to help them with one or more activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include things like eating, taking a bath, or getting dressed. About the same number have trouble with activities of daily living, even with assistive devices.

The older people get, the more care they tend to need. Forty-five percent of seniors between 65 and 69 don’t need any assistance. Among seniors who are 90 or older, only four percent are fully independent.

Canada has work to do in order to provide care to so many seniors. Demand for retirement homes and long-term care homes is outstripping supply. To get into their preferred long-term care homes, seniors could be on wait lists for years. The problem isn’t projected to get any better soon. Canada needs to provide spaces for 130,000 seniors in the next ten years, and another 240,000 by 2046 to keep up with demand.

How to Keep Seniors at Home

Long-term care facilities are meant for people who need around-the-clock care, such as people with dementia. Many of the seniors in these facilities can stay at home with some support to bolster their autonomy. When seniors are able to remain in their homes, they free up space in care facilities for ill seniors who really need the care. Of course, staying home isn’t just for the greater good. It’s also what most seniors say they want.

Seniors who need help with some activities of daily living can get help from paid caregivers. Caregivers can help seniors with bathing, grooming, eating, and other important tasks. Thanks to this assistance, seniors can get the help they need in the comfort of their own homes.


Tennille Kerrigan

Tenille is the president of Senior Helpers Canada, the premier franchise that delivers on what families and their loved ones need most. She has bachelor’s degree in business administration from York University, and has over 10 years of experience as a business owner and director. With Senior Helpers, our franchisees provide the professionalism and expert care that families and their aging loved ones require.

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