For years, there has been chatter about Canada’s aging population and the impact that the baby boomer generation will have on health care, the job market and the economy. The country has officially reached a population milestone.
For the first time ever, seniors now outnumber children. According to Statistics Canada, in July 2015 “nearly one in six Canadians (16.1%)—a record 5,780,900 Canadians—was at least 65 years old, compared with 5,749,400 children aged 0 to 14 years (16.0%).”
According to the most recent population projections (see note to readers), the share of persons aged 65 years and older will continue to increase and should account for 20.1% of the population on July 1, 2024, while the share of children aged 0 to 14 years should account for 16.3%.
Baby boomers are contributing to the senior population in the country. From 2014 to 2015, the growth rate of seniors was 3.5%, which is about four times the growth rate of the total population. As of July 2015, 18.2% of baby boomers were 65 years of age or older.
The report also states that in July 2015:
- New Brunswick had the highest percentage of people 65 years or older (19%)
- The Atlantic provinces have the highest proportion of seniors
- The territories have the lowest proportion of seniors
- Of the provinces, only Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have more children than seniors
Canada has the lowest proportion of people 65 years of age and older among the G7 countries, with the exception of the United States (15%). Japan has one of the oldest populations of seniors (26%).
The impact of an aging population
While there is some concern when it comes to things such as pensions and health care costs, the good news is that this generation of seniors is more wealthy and in better health than previous generations. The country also has time to make adjustments to accommodate the growing senior demographic.
The biggest adjustments will be in health care. “At the current rate of growth, seniors will eat up 62 per cent of provincial health-care budgets by 2036, the [Canadian Medical Association] estimates, a 15-per-cent increase over what seniors consume now,” says Eric Andrew Gee in the Globe and Mail.
Findings from a CGA-Canada report
A report by the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) took a look at the impact the aging population will have on Canada going forward.
The report assessed the impact in four areas:
Health system pressures
Labour supply concerns
Social and private income security programs
Based on their analysis, CGA-Canada recommends that Canada:
- Establishes a seniors’ health spending account to help make the transition to a pay-as-you-go health care system
- Re-evaluates the retirement age to reduce skill shortages
- Eliminates mandatory retirement
- Adjusts the Income Tax Act to reflect the changing role of seniors in the workforce
- Encourages personal financial planning to help people plan to live longer
- Supports public policy changes to provide a minimum standard of living for all
- Conducts a national dialogue on dying to discuss ethics, preparation and palliative care
- Invests in the aging workforce to effectively transition to younger workers
With an aging population that is living longer now than in the past, health care will become a priority. Learn more about how private health care insurance can help offset the costs not covered by OHIP by contacting Blue Cross today.