Doig said preparations are needed immediately to address the change in demographic in Canada so future generations are not caught on their heels trying to handle a massive issue.
“We need to get bodies on the ground and people in positions that are trained to do the tasks that are going to be needed,” she said. “If these are numbers for 15 to 20 years from now, we should be talking about training the kids that are now in high school and getting them equipped to perform the tasks that will be needed.
“If we’re going to need long-term care beds or if we’re going to need people who are trained to do alternate care in the home or non-hospital environments, we can’t wait until the need is acute. We have to try to anticipate and prepare for that need now.”
In addition to a large jump in those aged 65 and over, the number of Canadians over 80 and centenarians are also expected to see sharp increases within the next 26 years.
Projections for 2036 see about 3.3 million people aged 80 and over, up from 1.3 million in 2009. There were roughly 6,000 centenarians in Canada in 2009, but that demographic is projected to triple — or possibly quadruple — based on the Statistics Canada projections.
CARP, a national advocacy group for older Canadians, believes the latest projection should provide motivation for governments at all levels to help seniors better adapt in their daily lives.
“These are raw facts, but the challenge is for politicians to do something with this information,” said Susan Eng, the group’s vice-president of advocacy.
Eng said CARP largely dismisses the belief that an aging population will wreak havoc on the public health-care system, but admits that anything the massive baby-boom generation does will impact everything in Canada, from the overall economy to the state of health care.
“Canadians are living longer, by and large, and the longevity of Canadians is better than the United States and other countries,” Eng said. “While they’re living longer, they’re also living more healthy lives, so it’s not true they will be a drain on the health-care system.”
All provinces and territories are expected to see population increases under the medium- and high-growth scenarios. Newfoundland and Labrador, however, could see its population drop under a low-growth scenario.
Ontario, which in 2009 had the largest provincial population at about 13 million, could see that number jump to nearly 19.5 million in 2036 under a high-growth projection. Under the same scenario, Quebec could reach a population of just over 10 million, from its 2009 standing of 7.8 million.
Population, by province and territory, including projected total (medium-growth scenario) for 2036:
Province/Territory 2009 2036
Newfoundland & Labrador 508,900 513,700
Prince Edward Island 141,000 174,300
Nova Scotia 938,200 1.054M
New Brunswick 749,500 822,200
Quebec 7.828M 9.272M
Ontario 13.069M 17.746M
Manitoba 1.222M 1.579M
Saskatchewan 1.030M 1.207M
Alberta 3.687M 4.963M
British Columbia 4.455M 6.355M
Yukon 33,700 38,800
Northwest Territories 43,400 52,700
Nunavut 32,200 40,000
Source: Statistics Canada