The proportion of Canada's population that is 65 and older is the highest it
has ever been. This number will not only continue to grow, but will
also spike upward as the
baby boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1965) begins to reach age 65 in 2011.
Alberta's Seniors In 2000, there were an estimated 3.8 million seniors in Canada (1.1 million in the West),
which is up 58 percent from
2.4 million in 1981. The exception in these statistics is Alberta,
which has significantly fewer seniors than the other western
provinces and the rest of Canada. This does not, however, exempt Alberta from having to address the effects of
aging population has important social, economic and political ramifications. These include increased
demand for health care, a smaller labour market, a diminished tax base, a growing number of Canada Pension
Plan and Old Age Security recipients, an expanding market for products and services used by
greater public policy interest in the needs and concerns of the elderly.
The pattern for all four western provinces is clear: with the exception of infants (and to a lesser
extent, toddlers), there is a positive relationship between age and per capita health
expenditures (see table below). As the West's population ages, therefore, health
expenditures will increase. All provinces will need to address the public policy ramifications this
creates, including possible limitations on public health care and the
search for greater efficiency in health care delivery.
It must be stressed that an aging population is not a "problem" to be solved, but rather a demographic
trend that will bring both challenges and opportunities. The task at hand is to plan strategically
to ensure these challenges do not become difficulties.
Excerpts reprinted from Robert Roach and Loleen
Berdahl, State of the West: Western Canadian Demographic and Economic Trends(Calgary: Canada West Foundation: 2001), with permission from the Canada West Foundation.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.