To live is to age, meaning that simply by existing, every one is growing older. But in Canada, due to a lower reproductive rate in recent years and lengthening life spans, the country’s older population is far greater than what it used to be.
Nearly 17 percent of Canadians are 65 years of age or older, according to the most recent census data released by Statistics Canada. Up 20 percent from 2011, it’s the largest proportional increase since Canada’s founding, tracing back to 1871. Over the same five-year period – 2011 to 2016 – Canada’s population also grew, but to a much smaller extent, up 5 percent and by just 4 percent for children 14 years old or younger.
The shift in Canada’s generational makeup means that there are now more senior citizens living in the county than there are children. Specifically, as of last year, 5.9 million people 65 or older were registered citizens, compared to 5.8 million kids 14 years old and under. That’s a first in Canada’s 150-year history, 2017 being its sesquicentennial celebration.
More elderly women living alone
Not only is the composition of Canada’s populace metamorphosing, so too are household occupants For example, because life expectancies are lengthening, elderly individuals represent a larger swath of the country, many of whom now live alone. The aforementioned five-year period saw a near 19.5 percent increase in the number of elderly Canadians. The uptick was particularly notable among women, who are known to live longer than men. Indeed, for every 100 women in Canada between 85 and 99, there are just 54 men in the same age range, Statistics Canada reported. And for centenarians, the breakdown is 19 men for every 100 women. For more than 40 years in a row, women have outnumbered men in Canada, and among virtually all age groups.
Adina Lebo, a 68-year-old senior who lives in Toronto, related to the Canadian Press how being an unmarried senior citizen is a truly unique experience, one that she didn’t anticipate when she was middle-aged.
“There is a lot of reinvention because you’ve got another 30 to 35 years of life and why do what you’ve done before?” said Lebo. “Some of my friends started little businesses, like dog walking, or they took their mum’s cookie recipe and started making cookies and selling them at the local bakery and local fairs. Other people have gone into business with Airbnb and turned their home into a revenue-producing [business].”
Seniors finding their entrepreneurial streak is increasingly common, both in Canada as well as the U.S. Baby boomers in the U.S., for example, are two times more likely to start a business than millennials, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Gallup. The Small Business Administration refers to these initiatives as retirees who are living out their “encore” careers.
Canada is second-youngest G7 country
While the numbers clearly show that Canadians are getting a bit longer in the tooth, the country’s makeup is still younger than several industrialized nations, comparatively speaking. In fact, among countries that represent the G7, only the U.S. has a smaller percentage of people 65 or older, at 14.5 percent to Canada’s 16.9 percent, StatsCan found. Japan by far has the largest senior citizen population, accounting for slightly over 25 percent of the total.
As for which province has the youngest crop of citizens, Alberta stands out, with just 12.3 percent at or above 65, StatsCan found. In Edmonton, the average citizen is 37 years old, making the city’s makeup in the top three for youngest.
“It really is something that differentiates Alberta from other provinces and much of the developed world – how young our population is,” Mark Parsons, assistant deputy minister for the Alberta Treasury Board, told the Edmonton Journal.
Parsons went on to say that Alberta is growing increasingly multicultural, as more people are coming to the province from overseas.