OTTAWA — Senior citizens represent 14.1 per cent of the population of Brandon, a ratio lower than the national average, the latest census numbers from Statistics Canada show.
Newly released census information on age and sex makes it clear that Canadian society in general is getting older. The data released Tuesday comes from census forms filled out May 10, 2011 — a moment in time when the first of the baby boom generation was turning 65.
But in Brandon, the percentage of the population 65 and older has decreased, while the ratio of children has increased since the last census, contradicting the national trend. The census showed that 6,475 people in Brandon were seniors — only five more than those counted in 2006. That dropped the ratio to 14.1 per cent of the population, compared to a national average of 14.8 per cent and a provincial average of 14.3 per cent. Five years ago, the 2006 census showed that 15.6 per cent of the population of Brandon were seniors.
Despite the growing number of seniors in Canada, the country remains one of the youngest in the industrialized world. Among G8 countries, only the United States and Russia have a lower percentage of citizens aged 65 and over.
Still, an aging population presents challenges — especially because in general Canadians are not having as many children as previous generations. By the time the next census is taken in 2016, Statistics Canada projects the country will be home to as many senior citizens as children.
That will present governments with difficult choices such as how much funding should be allocated for health care versus education.
By region, the Atlantic provinces and Quebec are aging more quickly than the West.
In Brandon, children aged 14 and under now make up 18.2 per cent of the population, higher than the national average. Across Canada, children represent 16.8 per cent of the population; in Manitoba, the provincial average is 19.1 per cent.
Those in the working-age population in Brandon — people aged 15-64 — make up 67.7 per cent of the city’s residents. That’s slightly up from the 2006 census when 67.5 per cent of the population was made up of working-age residents.
The median age of Brandon was 35.6 years, compared with 37 years in 2006.
Nationally, the median age in 2011 was 40.6 years and the provincial median age was 38.4.
Statistics Canada defines median age as the point where exactly one half of the population is older than the median age and the other half is younger.
The national census is conducted every five years.
The information published on Tuesday is the second of several releases of data to come from Statistics Canada over the next year and longer that will eventually paint a detailed picture of the country, right down to the local level — including age breakdowns of the population, family makeup, languages spoken, immigration and ethnic origin, the level of education attained and income earned.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 1, 2004