According to the 2006 Census, the number of people aged 65 and over increased by more than 446,700 compared with 2001 (+11.5%), topping the 4 million mark for the first time (4.3 million). This is nearly four times as many seniors as in the first quinquennial census in 1956.
Figure 1 Number of persons aged 65 years and over and number of children aged less than 15 years in the Canadian population, 1956 to 2016
In contrast, the under-15 population declined by almost 146,000 (-2.5%) to 5.6 million between 2001 and 2006. This is the second consecutive intercensal period in which the under-15 population has declined, as the last increase was in the 1991 to 1996 period.
Two indicators of the population age structure have been used in this analysis: (1) the proportion of persons aged 65 years and over; and (2) the proportion of children aged less than 15. A population will be considered as older than another one when its proportion of senior citizens will be higher. At the opposite, a population will be considered as younger if its proportion of children is higher. The use of these two indicators may lead to different results than those which would be obtained using other indicators of the population age structure, such as the median age, for example.
According to the most recent population projections published by Statistics Canada, the number of children aged less than 15 years could be outnumbered by the number of seniors aged 65 and over within about 10 years. The growth of the elderly population has been modest up to now, but it will start accelerating in 2011, when the first baby-boomers turn age 65.