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Canada - Distribution Of Older People

age differences population percent sixty five

Variations in the proportion of those over sixty-five across Canada are explained by differences in fertility and by past migration patterns. The territories in the north are characterized by very high fertility, and they have relatively few older people. Among the provinces, the oldest populations in 2001 were in Saskatchewan (14.6 percent over age sixty-five) and Manitoba (13.6 percent over age sixty-five). These prairie provinces have experienced slow growth for several decades, as many youth have moved out, leaving a disproportionate number of older people. In contrast, areas with significant growth due to inmigration tend to have younger populations. For example, Alberta and Ontario have both grown rapidly and have relatively fewer older people (9.9 percent and 12.4 percent over age sixty-five, respectively). The exception to this pattern is British Columbia, which was the fastest growing province in the 1990s, but does not have an especially young population (12.7 percent over age sixty-five). Indeed, Victoria, British Columbia, has the unofficial title "Canada's Senior Capital" because 18.2 percent of its population is over age sixty-five. (Statistics Canada, 1999).

In 1996, most (78 percent) older Canadians lived in urban areas, and one-third resided in the four metropolitan areas with populations exceeding one million (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa). However, about one-fifth of Canada's older population lives in rural areas. Given the vast landmass of Canada, many of these areas have exceedingly low population density, making the delivery of services to seniors particularly difficult. Many rural communities are trying to develop economic opportunities to retain their younger populations and thereby be able to provide more services for seniors. The success of these endeavours has varied within and across provinces, but is the basis of important policy and planning concerns in all provinces.

Table 1 Distribution of Canada's Population by Age, 1901–2026 SOURCE: Adapted from Statistics Canada, Census of Canada 1901, 1931, 1951, and 1981. The Preliminary Population Estimate, The Daily, November 20, 2001, and ``Population Projections for 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016, 2021 and 2026, July 1.'' in CANSIM Matrix 6900. Ottawa: Statistics Canada website, 2001.

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