Annual census reveals aging population while 905 area booms
tory zimmerman/torstar news service
With more seniors and fewer children than ever before, Canada — and Toronto — have hit middle age, but this may not be grounds for a mid-life crisis.
The Greying Anatomy of Canada is a good thing, claim economists and business leaders who pored through new census numbers yesterday. A record one in seven Canadians is now 65 or older, while the ranks of under-15s have shrunk to a record low, according to Statistics Canada’s sweeping snapshot of aging Canadians, based on the 2006 census.
In the GTA, Toronto lost almost six per cent of those school-age children — no surprise to its two school boards who are bleeding pupils and dreading closures — while York, Peel and Halton regions saw double-digit jumps in the proportion of children, leaving them scrambling to build enough schools to keep up. These 905 regions stand out as boomtowns in a steadily aging nation, where the number of seniors will outstrip children in every province by 2022, the report predicts.
Rather than panic over labour shortages and bankrupt pensions, Canada should make better use of its immigrant workers, help more parents juggle work and family — they might even have more kids — and pump more funding into social programs, housing and transit for hubs like the 905, experts say.
“There’s no excuse not to invest in people under 24 — our economy is strong, governments have a surplus and there has never been such a healthy, wealthy cohort of older Canadians,” says economist Armine Yalnizyan.