According to the 2016 census, there were 5.9 million seniors in Canada, which accounted for 16.9 per cent of the total population says Statistics Canada, in a recent report. In comparison, there were 2.4 million seniors in 1981, or 10 per cent of the population.
The first baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, which led to the largest increase (plus 20 per cent) in the number of seniors in Canada in 70 years. In addition, although they represent a relatively small proportion of the overall senior population, centenarians were the fastest-growing population between 2011 and 2016 (plus 41 per cent). The overall population in Canada, in comparison, grew by five per cent during the same period.
As a result of the rapid increase in the number of seniors, 2016 marked the first time the census enumerated more seniors than children aged 14 and under.
The proportion of the population aged 65 and older is also expected to continue to increase over the coming decades. By 2031, there may be as many as 9.6 million seniors in Canada, which would represent almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the total population.
And, an aging population has important implications. As more Canadians receive an old age pension and seek healthcare and services, while housing and transportations needs are also changing, policymakers need to develop long-term strategies.
Another important factor, says Statistics Canada, is the senior population is increasingly female, given that women have a longer life expectancy than men. According to the 2016 census, among seniors (aged 65 and older), the number of women exceeded the number of men by more than 20 per cent, while there were two women for every man in the population aged 85 and older.
How do seniors spent their time?
Sleeping an average of nine hours a day, six hours of paid work, about five hours of passive pursuits (TV, music, reading), more than three hours of active pursuits (socializing; using technology; cultural, leisure or physical activities; civic or religious activities), about three hours of unpaid housework and an hour-and-a-half shopping makes for a busy day.
Matthew Bennett photo