A Simon Fraser University student wears a First Nations Coast Salish woven cedar hat as she and other students wait to receive their degrees during the fall convocation ceremony at the university in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday October 11, 2013. Canadians are putting in more effort in the classroom, additional time on the job and extra teeth-gnashing minutes on the road getting to and from work, Statistics Canada says in the latest - and last - batch of numbers from the 2016 census.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Education rates, commute times and time at work all growing, census shows

OTTAWA — Canadians are putting in more effort in the classroom, additional time on the job and extra teeth-gnashing minutes on the road getting to and from work, Statistics Canada says in the latest — and last — batch of numbers from the 2016 census.

The data released Wednesday show more than half of Canada’s core working population — those aged 25 to 64 — have earned degrees or diplomas from a college or university, the highest rate among comparable OECD countries, a group that includes the United States.

When it comes to educational laurels, women appear to be closing the gap with men: they accounted for half of all master’s degrees in 2016, and nearly half of all earned doctorates among younger Canadians aged 25 to 34.

The wage gap, however, persists. In Saskatchewan, for instance, a male with an apprenticeship certificate enjoyed a median income of $86,059, roughly $13,000 more than a female with a university degree.

“Even though women are more highly educated, they don’t earn more. Their workforce participation rate isn’t greater. So education is clearly not the whole story,” said Laura Wright, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan.

One-fifth of seniors over 65 remained in the workforce in 2016, twice the rate of 1996, while median income for full-time workers increased 30 per cent over the last decade. At the other end of the age spectrum, the employment rate for Canadians 15 to 24 dropped by almost six percentage points compared with 2006.

And another from the no-kidding file: getting to work isn’t getting any faster. The “journey to work” inched higher across Canada last year, even with more Canadians than ever opting to use public transit for their daily commute.

Wednesday’s release put the cherry on the statistical sundae Statistics Canada has been building since February, illustrating how life has evolved since 2011 for Canada’s 35.15 million people.

There are more people over 65 than under 15 in a historic grey shift immigrants are driving population and workforce growth there are more Indigenous Peoples than ever, and on average they’re younger than the rest of Canada and young Canadians are living at home longer.

So where do we go from here?

The percentage of the population over 65 is expected to grow from 16.9 per cent to 23 per cent by 2031, while the proportion of children under age 15 flatlines and the ranks of the working-age population shrink.

Older Canadians are lingering longer in the workforce, some because they can, others because they must.

Wednesday’s numbers show a 31 per cent spike in the number of health workers since 2006 — a good thing, given the aging baby boomers, said Julien Picault, a senior economics instructor at University of British Columbia.

“It’s not a crucial point, I think, at this stage, but it’s crucial that we start actually adapting.”

Replacing retiring workers will depend on immigrants, who are driving population growth in the face of low fertility rates. The proportion of immigrants in the population could reach 30 per cent by 2036, up from the 21.9 per cent recorded in 2016.

Those coming to Canada are highly educated — they have rates of post-secondary education more than double their Canadian-born counterparts — and already comprise half or nearly half the labour force in major centres like Toronto and Vancouver.

Michael Haan, a sociology professor at Western University in London, Ont., said it’s high time Ottawa put a plan in place to steer new Canadians towards population-starved rural communities.

“You can’t have a national immigration policy that stands on its own, because what is going to happen is that future immigrant flows are likely to follow the pathways of previous immigrant flows,” Haan said.

As always, the census offers only a snapshot in time, and projections come with a caveat: public policy, the economy and changing social norms, among other factors, could always cause a course correction.

Shifting public and political attitudes towards immigration could impact population estimates, said Haan. North American trade talks could change the face of the labour market. And the advent of online retailing could bring seismic change for the 626,775 people working in retail sales last year, the most common occupation recorded by the census.

Governments could boost the value of child benefits to encourage families to get bigger. Fertility rates could go up if more dads take parental leave, relieving moms of some of the burden of balancing work and family, Wright said.

Whatever happens, it all begins and ends — much as the 2016 census did — with the transformative power of Canada’s aging baby boomers.

“Population aging is the crux of the change,” Wright said. “It drives a lot of other changes.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

A Red Deer County man was arrested for drug possession by Innisfail RCMP on April 19. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Property crime and drugs top Red Deer RCMP priorities in new plan

2020-2022 Policing Priorities Plan going to city council on Monday

RCMP estimate about 500 people gathered on the weekend near Garrington Bridge along the Red Deer River, in a July 28, 2020 story. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Second person charged for alleged assault at anti-racism rally in Red Deer

A second person is facing charges following an alleged assault during an… Continue reading

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees vice-president Bonnie Gustola criticized provincial government layoffs at a rally that drew more than 80 people at City Hall Park on Friday.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
More than 80 rally in Red Deer against government health, education cutbacks

Rally at City Hall Park organized by the Council for Canadians

The higher the education level, the higher the income of some 1.3 million post-secondary graduates surveyed between 2010 and 2015, with master's degrees paying off the most. But the findings also suggest that gender and timing matter. (Black Press Media File).
2020 high school grads won’t get their ceremony

Decision announced by Lindsay Thurber and Hunting Hills high schools, and Gateway Christian School

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

New voluntary measures, including the encouragement of more mask wearing, have been introduced in the Edmonton health zone. “Red Deer has been very fortunate to have relatively low case numbers . . . relative to the rest of the province and the country,” says Mayor Tara Veer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
POLL: Should Alberta have stricter rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Should Alberta have stricter rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?… Continue reading

Police in Ottawa are investigating an incident of hate-motivated graffiti at the National War Memorial. The alleged incident happened last Friday night, when police say a man, shown in a police handout photo, used a sharp object to engrave a hateful message on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. THE CANADIAN PRESSS/HO-Ottawa Police Service MANDATORY CREDIT
Ottawa police investigating hate-motivated graffiti incident at National War Memorial

Ottawa police investigating hate-motivated graffiti incident at National War Memorial

Indigenous fisherman Robert Syliboy stands on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Tensions remain high over an Indigenous-led lobster fishery that has been the source of conflict with non-Indigenous fishermen. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
For Mi’kmaq fishers, dreams of a peaceful harvest on N.S. waters repeatedly dashed

For Mi’kmaq fishers, dreams of a peaceful harvest on N.S. waters repeatedly dashed

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday October 21, 2020. Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says he is set to tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau he has 'lost confidence' in RCMP Commissioner Lucki. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Bellegarde wants Brenda Lucki out as head of RCMP

Bellegarde wants Brenda Lucki out as head of RCMP

This image released by CBS All Access shows Dan Illescas, left, and Tracey Stabile of the Central Texas Pig Rescue in a scene from the CBS All Access docuseries "That Animal Rescue Show." (Danny Matson/CBS All Access via AP)
Animals, people rescue each other in heartfelt docuseries

Animals, people rescue each other in heartfelt docuseries

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe scores his sixth goal of the WHL season in the first period against the Tri-City Americans on Saturday night at the Centrium. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
WHL grants players temporary transfer until mid-December

Players are eligible to suit up in Junior A, Junior B and U-18 ranks

Most Read