The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance
National seniors strategy will help Canada manage its aging population
June 29, 2017
Ottawa – More Canadians are over the age of 65 than under 14 — a profound demographic change that is creating significant challenges for the country’s finances and affecting Canada’s economy, the Senate Committee on National Finance said in a report.
To counter these effects, the committee is urging the federal government to adopt a national seniors strategy to control the rising costs associated with an aging population while ensuring elderly Canadians get the care they need. It’s one of four recommendations the committee included in its report, Getting Ready: For a New Generation of Active Seniors.
It is becoming increasingly urgent to adopt a national strategy because the aging population is putting considerable pressure on a health-care system that is already not performing at peak efficiency. The growing number of people who need care — either at home or in hospital — may require a change in the way the federal government allocates funds to the provinces, territories and First Nations governments.
Home care should be an important component of the national strategy. Not only are elderly people more comfortable in their own homes, it’s less costly to taxpayers than when cared for in a hospital or long-term care facility.
New employment opportunities will emerge for nurses, home-care providers, support workers and other healthcare professionals. Companies that provide care services or products for older people will discover an expanding market.
However, there will likely be an overall negative impact on labour force participation as older workers retire. The federal government, along with other levels of government, should prepare to fill this gap by adopting measures that encourage under-represented groups, like Indigenous people and people with disabilities, to enter the work force. Immigration of skilled workers will also be helpful in offsetting the impact of an aging population.
- The median age of Canadians is rising: it was 24.1 years in 1923; 40.2 in 2013 and is on track to reach 46.5 in 2063.
- Canadians are living longer. Life expectancy is 82 years.
- Canadians are having fewer children. The fertility rate is 1.6 births per woman.
- Canada’s aging population could increase health-care costs by 1% a year, or $2 billion annually.
- Canada’s aging population is unevenly spread across provinces. Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia’s over-65 population is expected to exceed 30% by 2038. Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will be below 15%.
“As Canada’s population ages, a national seniors strategy offers a hopeful plan for providing the health care and other services that Canadian senior citizens need and deserve. There will be opportunities for younger Canadians who will find work in the growing field of elder care.”
- Senator Percy Mockler, Chair of the committee
“Canada’s senior citizen population is composed of people who worked hard their entire lives. These people contributed to the country’s growth and success. Our federal government must lead in the care of these Canadians, in their aging years. This generation has no wish to be a burden on anyone.”
- Senator Anne C. Cools, Deputy Chair of the committee
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