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Canada's working-age population is older than ever, StatsCan says – CBC News



Canada’s working-age population is older than it has ever been, according to new census figures released Wednesday.

More than one in five working adults is now nearing retirement, says Statistics Canada — a demographic shift that will create significant challenges for the Canadian workforce in the coming decade.

Laurent Martel, director for the centre of demography at Statistics Canada, called it a “date with demographic destiny.”

“Canada is at a very special place right now,” she said. “There are very large implications of this situation and it is certainly one factor explaining the current labour shortages that Canada is experiencing.”

The Canadian population now has a larger share of people aged 55 to 64 than it does of those aged 15 to 24, the age at which people enter the workforce.

In 1966, there were 200 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians aged 55 to 64, but that has now been flipped on its head. In 2021, there were only 81 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians in the 55 to 64 age group.

“There are challenges associated with an older workforce, including knowledge transfer, retaining experienced employees and workforce renewal,” the agency said in its report. 

Statistics Canada says that this trend can be slowed through immigration but “an increase in immigration — even a large one — would not significantly curb this projected drop.”

The 2021 census says that while declining fertility rates and increased life expectancy are important factors, the single most significant driver of Canada’s aging population trend is the ongoing retirement of baby boomers (Canadians born between 1946 and 1965), which began in 2011.

Despite this news, Statistics Canada says Canada still has one of the youngest working-age populations in the G7 after the U.S. and the United Kingdom, with 15- to 64-year-olds making up 64.8 per cent of the population; in Japan, that demographic makes up less than 60 per cent of the population.

In the U.S., the slightly younger workforce is a result of a slightly higher fertility rate, while in the U.K., it is a combination of a higher fertility rate and a relatively smaller number of baby boomers, Statistics Canada said.

An aging population

It’s not just Canada’s workforce that is aging significantly — it’s the population as a whole, Statistics Canada said. 

From 2016 to 2021, the number of Canadians age 65 and older rose 18.3 per cent to seven million — the second-largest increase in 75 years, after the increase recorded from 2011 to 2016, which was a rise of more than 20 per cent. 

The seven million Canadians 65 and older make up 19 per cent of the population, up from 16.9 per cent at the time of the last census.

A closer look shows that the number of Canadians aged 85 and older rose almost 12 per cent from the time of the last census, while Canadians aged over 100 rose by more than 15 per cent. 

“Over the next 30 years, the number of persons aged 85 and older could triple from 861,000 to 2.7 million,” the agency said. 

Statistics Canada population projections indicate that by 2051, almost one-quarter of the population could be aged 65 and older, adding up to almost 12 million people.

The young and elderly in Canada

The age of Canada’s population is not just about the growing cohort of seniors. It’s also the declining growth rate among younger Canadians as the country’s fertility rate hit an all time low of 1.4 children per woman, Statistics Canada said. 

Between 2016 and 2021, the number of Canadians younger than 15 grew six times slower than the number of people 65 and older. The number of children under the age of 15 at the time of the 2021 census stood at six million, compared to seven million Canadians 65 and older.

The number of children under the age of five also fell from almost 1.9 million in 2016 to 1.83 million in 2021, a decline of more than 3.6 per cent.

The decline continues a trend first noted in the 2016 census when, for the first time, there were more Canadians over 65 than children under 15. The demographic gap has grown substantially, from just 96,000 then to just over a million by 2021. 

Statistics Canada says that if current trends continue, by 2051 that gap will widen to 4.6 million, with 12 million Canadians over the age of 65 and only 7.4 million children under 15.

Regional differences

The demographic differ between regions — the Prairie provinces and the territories have younger populations while Quebec and the Atlantic provinces have older populations on average.

In Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, children under 15 continue to outnumber Canadians aged 65 and older, largely due to a higher fertility rate.

Population projections for Manitoba and Alberta indicate that Canadians aged 65 and older will not outnumber children under 15 until 2031. In Saskatchewan, which has the highest proportion of children under the age of 15, older Canadians will not outnumber children until 2036.

In the territories, Nunavut has the highest percentage of children under 15 in the country at more than 32 per cent, followed by the Northwest Territories at almost 21 per cent. The Yukon is slightly lower at 17 per cent. 

Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest share of children in Canada at 13.4 per cent, followed by Nova Scotia at 14.1 per cent and New Brunswick and B.C., which are tied at 14.3 per cent.

Questions on gender

For the first time, this census included questions on gender that allowed cisgender, transgender and non-binary individuals to report their gender.

Statistics Canada says that Canada is the first country to collect and publish data on gender diversity in a national census.

Of the almost 30.5 million people in Canada aged 15 and older living in private households in May 2021, Statistics Canada says 59,460 identified as transgender and 41,355 identified as non-binary, accounting for 0.33 per cent of the population in this age group.

Other highlights from census 2021

  • The COVID-19 pandemic slowed population growth in all age groups, but did not significantly affect population aging.
  • Small and large urban centres have younger populations on average, with Canadians 65 and older making up 18.2 per cent of the urban population — compared to rural areas, where older Canadians account for 23.2 per cent of the population on average.
  • Not all urban centres are the same. In Trois-Rivières 25.7 per cent of the population is 65 and older; in Calgary, it’s 13.5 per cent. 
  • Working-age people (those aged 15 to 64) account for three-quarters of the population of urban downtown areas, compared to the national average of 64.8 per cent. 
  • The number of apartments in high-rise buildings increased at more than double the rate of the total number of private dwellings between 2016 and 2021 — 14.7 per cent, compared to 6.4 per cent for all private dwellings.
  • In British Columbia, the number of high-rise apartments grew more than five times faster (24.8 per cent ) than the number of single-detached houses, which grew by 4.3 per cent.

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A year of trauma, catharsis and finally peace for some survivors of Kamloops school



KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The nightmares started last May, said Harvey McLeod, chief of the Upper Nicola Indian Band and a survivor of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

They tormented McLeod for months after the discovery of 215 suspected unmarked graves at the school he attended for two years.

Then one night he was visited in his dreams by a young girl who set him free.

“It’s been tough on me and so wonderful at the same time,” said McLeod.

The year since the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that ground-penetrating radar had located the suspected grave sites in a former apple orchard has been one of national reckoning about residential schools in Canada.

But for survivors of the residential school system it has meant much more: reawakened trauma, catharsis, and, for some, a kind of closure.

“There was a little girl by my right leg, always there,” McLeod recalled of his dream. “I’d get up and walk and she’d be holding onto my leg or my hand. It seemed like everywhere I went that little girl was there.”

The dream ended when the girl walked to a door, waved and left, he said.

“My conclusion was, I’m OK now and she’s OK and she’s going to go home,” said McLeod, 68. “I think she was another child at the school that looked after me and I took care of her.”

Percy Casper, 73, spent 10 years at the Kamloops school. He said he was distraught and angry when he heard the announcement.

“The last year I really had to bear down and go back to my ceremonial life and roots,” said Casper, a member of the Bonaparte Indian Band near Cache Creek. “When I first found out about the 215, I was like a rubber band. I was maxed out and I was ready to snap.”

The former U.S. Marine and Vietnam War veteran said he found peace following a summer solstice ceremony last June at a healing location near Cache Creek.

A mother grizzly bear and three cubs watched in the distance as salmon, venison and berries were left at the sacred site. They emerged from the forest to eat the offerings as he prepared to leave, said Casper, who took their visit as a sign to find strength.

“It was up to me to revisit myself spiritually, and say, ‘Hey, you have to help yourself. You’ve got kids. You’ve got grandkids and you have people,’” he said. “So, I’m very proud to say I’m guilty of helping my people.”

Prof. Nicole Schabus, an Indigenous and environmental law expert at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, said upset survivors started calling her in the hours following the announcement about the suspected graves last May.

“Immediately, it flashed the survivors back to being children again and it brought the intergenerational trauma,” she said.

Many told her about dreams of seeing little boys standing alone, said Schabus.

“It took them a long time to actually realize they were looking at themselves,” she said, adding that many survivors recognized they were ready to move on from their experiences.

Mike Arnouse, 79, spent 11 years at the Kamloops school. He said the past year has seen him renew his commitment to living in unity with the land.

“There’s a cycle of life and we belong in that cycle,” he said. “The birds know what to do. The four-legged animals know what to do. The fish know what to do, but do we?”

The Adams Lake Indian Band member said residential schools were built to take Indigenous people off the land and impose the Western world on them.

“They’ve been practising on us for 500 years,” he said. “I always make the joke, ‘I was the smartest one in Grade 2 for eight years.’ “

The Kamloops residential school operated between 1890 and 1969, when the federal government took over operations from the Catholic Church and ran it as a day school until it closed in 1978.

A 4,000-page report in 2015 by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed harsh mistreatment at the schools, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children, and at least 4,100 deaths at the institutions.

The report cited records of at least 51 children dying at the Kamloops school between 1914 and 1963. Health officials in 1918 believed children at the school were not being adequately fed, leading to malnutrition, the report noted.

Kamloops survivor Garry Gottfriedson, 69, said the past year had been emotionally draining for the members of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, who were unable to mourn in private.

“This was such a public thing,” he said.

Gottfriedson, 69, an internationally known poet who provides curriculum advice to Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops on Secwepemc Nation protocols and cultural practices, said community members still struggled with anxiety about the discovery and the next steps for the site, including exhumation.

“It’s different than a graveyard because we know the people who are taken to a graveyard and buried there,” he said. “It’s settled. But there’s so many unknowns with the 215 bodies. Those kids are buried in our yard. It’s a constant reminder.”

McLeod said the discovery of the unmarked graves at Kamloops had forced individuals, institutions and countries to face their past.

“It’s going to take some time, but it changed all of us in one way or another,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2022.


Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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U.S., Canada, other APEC delegates walk out on Russian speaker



BANGKOK (AP) — Delegates from the United States, Canada, and three other nations staged a walkout Saturday when a representative from Russia began his opening remarks at a meeting of trade ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group in the Thai capital, officials said.

A spokeswoman for Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng said Canada walked out alongside the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia during Russia’s intervention.

“Canada has already taken many actions to hold Russia accountable for its devastating invasion of Ukraine, including severe sanctions against Putin and those who enable him – but we must keep the pressure on,” the minister’s spokeswoman Alice Hansen said by email.

A Japanese official said Japan’s Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda and his counterparts walked out of the meeting in Bangkok to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A statement from the office of New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor said he walked out “in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has slowed the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and made it harder for people in the region to get food on their tables.

A U.S. official in Bangkok confirmed the walkout but did not provide further details. He asked not to be identified. There is diplomatic sensitivity over speaking about the incident because the proceedings were held in closed session. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is representing Washington at the meeting.

Thailand is this year’s host nation for meetings of APEC, which comprises 21 economies. The two-day trade ministers meeting ends Sunday.

The walkout occurred just as Maxim Reshetnikov, Russia’s minister for economic development, was set to deliver his opening remarks, said a Southeast Asian diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the delegates of the five protesting nations and their staff walked out together in what appeared to clearly be a planned action, and returned after Reshetnikov completed his remarks.

Canada added Reshetnikov to its list of sanctioned Russian officials in mid March.

Western nations have imposed tough diplomatic and economic sanctions on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine, but many of APEC member nations, especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America, have distanced themselves from such moves. The war in Ukraine has raised major trade issues because it has disrupted supply chains, especially in the food sector.

APEC was launched in 1989 to boost growth by promoting economic integration and trade among its members.


Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand and David Rising in Bangkok contributed to this report.


Grant Peck, The Associated Press

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‘Still going’: Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home



With gasoline prices hitting all-time highs, Jeff Redmond says he’s planning to stay closer to home when RV camping this summer.

The owner and general manager of Bucars RV Centre in Balzac, Alta., says recreational vehicles are still one of the most affordable ways to travel as a couple or with a family once hotels, gasoline prices or airline costs are factored in.

“We laugh that RVers are the ones that are winning,” Redmond said in an interview this week.

The cost of gasoline declined slightly before this May long weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer camping season, but analysts say summer demand in coming weeks has the potential to send prices even higher.

Redmond said that could influence where he travels this year.

“The Okanagan Valley is a place I like to go … and that’s a seven-hour drive, so maybe I am going to go to Pigeon Lake or Gull Lake (Alberta), which is an hour-and-a-half drive,” he said. “The good news is that I am still going.

“We’re able to alter our plans and to work within our budget.”

Redmond said he has heard a similar sentiment from customers. Some are staying closer to home. Others are planning to stay longer at one campsite.

“You park the larger trailer at a permanent campsite, or at your friend’s cottage, or at the old family farm, or at a winery in the Okanagan — and you don’t tow it,” he said. “You hop in your family car and you go back and forth. You have a built-in, very affordable … off-the-grid cabin that is extremely efficient once you get there.

“Lots of people are no longer towing.”

Rob Minarchi is vice-president of sales at ArrKann Trailer & R.V. Centre with outlets across Alberta. He said there’s been a lot of demand for RVs since the start of the pandemic and it hasn’t slowed down this year.

“Most (people) are upgrading, as crazy as that sounds,” he said from Edmonton. “Some people are selling … because circumstances have changed but, for the most part, they are just trading in for different units.

“There’s a lot of new RVers who came to the market when COVID first hit … but they didn’t know exactly what they wanted.”

Those customers, he said, are trading in for units that better suit their needs.

Minarchi said he hasn’t heard about anyone getting rid of an RV due to high gas prices.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of people are just camping a little closer,” he said. “If they were going to do a five-hour trip, now they are going to do a one-hour trip … I think it actually ties in a little bit with COVID and staying close to home.

“They found so many hidden gems locally … in the last couple of years that they are OK to do that.”

Some campgrounds are starting to notice some changes.

“I’ve had a few people cancel,” said Scott Kast, owner of Tomahawk R.V. at Lake of the Woods in Ontario.

But, he said, gas prices are a minor factor in those cancellations.

“We do get a lot of Americans here. One thing holding people back is vaccine mandates,” said Kast.

Another campground manager told CKPG radio station in Prince George, B.C., that some people travelling from farther away have cancelled.

“A lot of people are wanting to stay local,” said Bobbie Carpino, who runs the Salmon Valley campground.

“We’ve seen cancellations from folks coming in from the States heading up to Alaska, as well as folks coming in from the Lower Mainland.”

The price of fuel could add $100 or $200 to the cost of an average camping trip, Minarchi said.

“It feels like a lot when you are at the pump but … it’s still affordable to do it,” he said. “One less restaurant that you eat out at pays for the difference in your fuel for the whole camping trip.”

Some RVers, he said, are adding solar panels and buying generators to make it easier to camp off the grid — including on Crown land. Others are parking their RVs at permanent sites for the entire summer.

“They are still camping, so that’s good.”

Redmond said the pandemic encouraged many people to get outdoors in their RVs, on a mountain bike or with a set of golf clubs.

“I am a guy that went and bought a new bicycle and there’s no way I’m selling my bike. It’s been awesome to get on the trails and get reintroduced to that,” he said.

“There (are) lots of people, their lives got in the way of our great outdoors. They are stepping back now and saying, ‘Wow, that was great’ and they are going to keep doing it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2022.


Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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