If Halifax were a person it would be 39 years old, living in the suburbs and white, but growing more Asian.
Statistics Canada released a demographic profile of Halifax yesterday that reveals a lot about the Halifax Regional Municipality, but raises concerns about an aging population.
There are several worrisome factors. Along with Newfoundland, Nova Scotia is one of two provinces experiencing more deaths than births. More people leave Nova Scotia for other provinces than the other way around. And we’re getting old.
“It’s an aging population and the fertility rate’s not going up at all. It’s going down. There’s no signs to show us this is going to change and if anything it’s going to continue to age,” said Statistics Canada regional adviser Marc Melanson.
Melanson’s projection of 2031 looks very different from today.
In it, the baby boomers have moved into retirement and almost a third of the population is older than 65 while only 17 per cent is younger than 20. Halifax will also be losing more workers than it gains.
One thing saving us is immigration. Halifax saw modest growth between 2001 and 2006, but it was only the influx of nearly 7,000 immigrants that kept the province’s population from shrinking.
Even that demographic is changing. The United Kingdom used to be our main source of immigrants, but now China is No. 1.
The Halifax core has also been shrinking, as more people move to the suburbs. The peninsular Halifax population is also older, which Melanson said is no surprise.
“Elderly people seek different services. They seek hospitals, transportation, their incomes sometimes are lower than younger families. And the issue sometimes is housing. They get away from the big six-bedroom homes and the big yards and move more into condos,” Melanson said.
Halifax by the numbers
- Between 2001 and 2006 Halifax saw stronger population growth than Nova Scotia as a whole (3.8 per cent compared to 0.6 per cent).
- However, the city’s population growth was lower than the overall Canadian average of 5.4 per cent.
- Halifax is younger than the rest of Nova Scotia (median average of 39 years old to 41.8) and better educated.
- Almost half (46.6 per cent) of young adults aged 20 to 24 years old in Halifax still live at home.
- Highest proportion of immigrants from 2001 to 2006 was from China. But the most common language after French and English is Arabic, followed by German.