Canada Must Adapt to the Ageing of Its Population

Canada Must Adapt to the Ageing of Its Population

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According to a study conducted by Silver Valley and Business France, the Canadian population has aged. What is at stake here is: lower fertility and an increase in life expectancy. To keep seniors in good health, the Health System must adapt.

Canada boasted 36 million inhabitants in 2016, with a median age of 40.6. 0-15-year-olds accounted for 16.1% of the population and 65+: 16.5%. In 2050, there will be 46.9 million Canadians with a median age of 44. The proportion of 0-15-year-olds will decline slightly to 14.1% and that of 65+ will increase sharply to reach 24.8%. As for the 85+, their proportion will double, 9.5% in 2053, up from 4.1% of the population in 2013.

evolution of senior population in Canada

The cause of the ageing of the population is a low fertility rate and an increase in life expectancy. Between 2013 and 2062, women’s life expectancy at birth would go from 83.8 to 89.2 years and that of men from 79.6 to 87.6 years. Canada owes most of its demographic growth to immigration (70%). By 2050, one over-65 out of two will be an immigrant.

17.5 billion Canadian Dollars for Seniors’ Health Care

According to the Canadian Medical Association, the federal government had to earmark 3.3 billion Canadian dollars in 2016 to adapt health care to the ageing of the population. This amount should dramatically increase over the next 5 years to reach CAD 17.5 billion (CAD 1.45 = EUR 1).

The Canadian Health System will have to adapt to the ageing of the population including through:

  • Prevention, in order to reduce chronic diseases: 90% of Canadians over 65 suffer from at least one chronic disease;
  • Health Care innovation: the government invested 3 million dollars in the implementation of palliative care models in 2012;
  • Support to family carers who are not paid for the care provided and have for most of them dependent children and a job; and
  • Adapting of accommodationfor seniors who are losing autonomy so as to help them stay active and remain at home as long as possible.

Work to Stay Healthy

The Health System must also facilitate inclusion on the labour market. The percentage of 65+ in the active population has gone from 6% in 2000 to 13% in 2013. Most people aged 65 and over are still in good health and do not see the point in retiring. Many stay employed up to 65 or 67. Companies must adapt working conditions by offering more flexible hours, 4-day weeks or telecommuting, for example.

A vast majority of Canadians remain active well into old age. 80% take part at least once a month in a social activity such as volunteering or continue with a paid job. 30 to 40% of them return to work after retirement for financial reasons.

Public Policies in Favour of Seniors

Many measures have been implemented to make the life of seniors easier. Financial support to Public Health care varies from province to province. Basic care is covered in a universal manner, including the fees for doctors, specialists and hospital services: dental care, eye care or plastic surgery. Most governments offer and finance extra services for seniors such as prescription drugs or ambulance services.

Health care and social protection expenses represented 11.1% of the GDP in 2016 and 70% were financed by the public sector (taxes, sales taxes, P.A.Y.E. contributions).

The retirement system relies on several cornerstones to secure financing from the government: the Québec and Canada Pension Plans, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, employers pension plans and individual RRSPs.

Seniors are also entitled to many tax benefits depending on the province, as for example subsidies to adapt the home: access ramps for wheelchairs, walk-in bath tubs, hands-free taps or motion-activated light fixtures.

22.2 million dollars will be invested so senior people can remain at home as long as possible: cleaning services or meal preparation.