The growing number of baby-boomers entering the ranks of senior citizens has brought about a fundamental shift in Canada’s demographic makeup, Statistics Canada said today.
The agency said the number of Canadians aged 65 or older edge out the number of children under the age of 14, according to the most recent population figures.
StatsCan said seniors made up 16.1 percent of Canada’s population as of July 1, compared to 16.0 percent for children aged zero-14.
The shift was driven by a trend that took root in 2011 and has continued to accelerate—the aging of the baby-boomers, which refers to Canadians born between 1946 and 1965.
StatsCan said the population growth rate for Canadians over the age of 65 was 3.5 percent, nearly quadrupling the national average of 0.9 percent.
Baby-boomers now account for 18 percent of the senior demographic, the agency said.
Demographer David Foot said the latest figures still represent the early days of a trend that’s likely to persist for at least a decade.
StatsCan seems to agree—projecting that Canadians over the age of 65 will make up one-fifth of the national population by 2024.
Foot said the most serious implication of this shift, namely an increased toll on Canada’s health-care system, won’t be felt for some time.
“They’re still fairly young seniors. They’re in their late 60s,” Foot said of the “boomers.”
“Many of them are still working and paying taxes.”
The aging of the Canadian population also has begun to make itself felt in provincial figures in recent years, with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador all reporting that deaths have begun to outpace births.
This aligns with StatsCan’s latest figures, which found Atlantic Canada had a higher proportion of Canadians over the age of 65.
Seniors comprised 19 percent of New Brunswick’s population, making it the most aged province in the country.
The most youthful region was Nunavut, where just 3.7 percent of the population currently are senior citizens.
While Canada’s year-over-year population growth was the highest among G7 countries, StatsCan said the 0.9-percent increase was the smallest of its kind since 1998-99.
The slower pace was caused primarily by a drop in international migration growth, which slipped from 0.7 percent in 2013-14 to 0.5 percent this year.
The agency said 86 percent of Canada’s 35,851,800 residents were located in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and B.C.