Canada’s getting older, but we’re a young city

Senior citizens now represent 10.4 per cent of the population of Red Deer, a ratio lower than the national average, the latest census numbers from Statistics Canada show.

Senior citizens now represent 10.4 per cent of the population of Red Deer, 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 is getting older. The data released on Tuesday comes from census forms filled out on May 10, 2011 — a moment in time when the first of the baby boom generation was turning 65.

The census showed that 9,440 people in Red Deer were aged 65 or older. That ratio of 10.4 per cent of the population compares to a national average of 14.8 and a provincial average of 11.1 per cent.

Five years ago, the 2006 census showed that 9.9 per cent of the population of Red Deer were seniors.

Scott Cameron, Social Planning Department manager for the City of Red Deer, said the census shows a couple of changes, albeit minimal, when it comes to the growth of the seniors sector, as well as children up to age four.

“We’re not seeing drastic swings in our numbers,” said Cameron on Tuesday. “We had anticipated an increase in seniors but it was relatively small at .6 per cent (a change from 2006).”

What was more surprising was the increase of babies and small children. That amounted to a .2 per cent increase from 2006. This is the first increase since 1996, said Cameron.

“We still need to look at the provision of broad services,” he said.

Cameron said the city is looking at how best to serve seniors.

It recently studied housing needs, as well as transportation issues — two areas that seniors thought were critical. Changes have been made, including publicizing how seniors can better access transit.

The town of Ponoka has similarly witnessed an increase in seniors and children.

“The numbers of manageable,” said town manager Brad Watson.

Watson said a huge splash park will open later this year for children and the community will also open the province’s second outdoor artificial ice rink to all ages.

The town also became the province’s only senior-friendly certified community after being graded by the Alberta Council on Aging.

Watson said they are cognizant of the seniors population, so trails and parks are being developed for them, including outdoor equipment for them. Pool programs for seniors are also planned.

The town is also working with developers of gated communities. The Handibus Society and Family and Community Support Services provide excellent transportation services, he added. Cultural clubs focus on programs for seniors, plus groups including the visitors centre entice seniors to volunteer.

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 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.

The number of children in Red Deer — those aged 14 and under — has increased since the last census.

The new data shows that children make up 18.3 per cent of the population. Across Canada, children represent 16.8 per cent of the population and the provincial average is 18.8 per cent.

Those in the working-age population in Red Deer — people aged 15 to 64 — represent 71.3 per cent of the city’s residents. That’s down from the 2006 census when 72 per cent of the population was made up of working-age residents.

The median age of Red Deer was 34.7 years, compared with 33.5 years in 2006.

Nationally, the median age in 2011 was 40.6 years and the provincial median age was 36.5 years.

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.

Here is a local breakdown of census population information for communities in the Red Deer region:

Community 2011 %pop. 2006 % change

Red Deer

Median Age 34.7 33.5

Female 45,735 50.5 41,750 9.5

Male 44,830 49.5 41,495 8.0

Children 16,565 18.3 15,100 9.7

Working Age 64,560 71.3 59,935 7.7

Seniors 9,440 10.4 8,205 15.1

Penhold

Median Age 31.6 33.6

Female 1,160 48.8 1,000 16.0

Male 1,215 51.2 980 24.0

Children 530 22.3 435 21.8

Working Age 1,705 71.8 1,420 20.1

Seniors 140 5.9 130 7.7

Blackfalds

Median Age 29.7 29.3

Female 3,090 49.0 2,245 37.6

Male 3,210 51.0 2,365 35.7

Children 1,735 27.5 1,225 41.6

Working Age 4,360 69.2 3,235 34.8

Seniors 200 3.2 150 33.3

Lacombe

Median Age 37.1 36.4

Female 6,040 51.6 5,575 8.3

Male 5,665 48.4 5,180 9.4

Children 2,375 20.3 2,340 1.5

Working Age 7,650 65.4 6,830 12.0

Seniors 1,690 14.4 1,575 7.3

Alix

Median Age 43.1 39.5

Female 395 47.6 400 -1.3

Male 430 51.8 450 -4.4

Children 160 19.3 160 0.0

Working Age 550 66.3 585 -6.0

Seniors 120 14.5 100 20.0

Ponoka

Median Age 41.1 40.9

Female 3,600 53.2 3,480 3.4

Male 3,175 46.9 3,100 2.4

Children 1,225 18.1 1,200 2.1

Working Age 4,245 62.7 4,105 3.4

Seniors 1,305 19.3 1,270 2.8

Rimbey

Median Age 45.4 42.6

Female 1,270 53.5 1,195 6.3

Male 1,105 46.5 1,055 4.7

Children 395 16.6 390 1.3

Working Age 1,345 56.6 1,295 3.9

Seniors 635 26.7 570 11.4

Sylvan Lake

Median Age 31.8 31.2

Female 6,085 49.4 5,035 20.9

Male 6,245 50.7 5,220 19.6

Children 2,910 23.6 2,495 16.6

Working Age 8,615 69.9 7,055 22.1

Seniors 800 6.5 705 13.5

Bowden

Median Age 38.3 39.0

Female 620 49.8 600 3.3

Male 625 50.2 610 2.5

Children 260 20.9 240 8.3

Working Age 785 63.1 800 -1.9

Seniors 200 16.1 170 17.6

Innisfail

Median Age 41.7 40.1

Female 4,045 51.4 3,785 6.9

Male 3,830 48.6 3,550 7.9

Children 1,475 18.7 1,420 3.9

Working Age 4,950 62.9 4,655 6.3

Seniors 1,455 18.5 1,260 15.5

Olds

Median Age 41.2 40.2

Female 4,225 51.3 3,745 12.8

Male 4,005 48.6 3,505 14.3

Children 1,370 16.6 1,275 7.5

Working Age 5,285 64.2 4,630 14.1

Seniors 1,585 19.2 1,350 17.4

Stettler

Median Age 39.9 39.4

Female 2,960 51.5 2,835 4.4

Male 2,785 48.5 2,605 6.9

Children 1,000 17.4 1,015 -1.5

Working Age 3,630 63.2 3,370 7.7

Seniors 1,115 19.4 1,060 5.2

Rocky Mountain House

Median Age 35.0 34.2

Female 3,530 50.9 3,450 2.3

Male 3,405 49.1 3,425 -0.6

Children 1,395 20.1 1,445 -3.5

Working Age 4,605 66.5 4,570 0.8

Seniors 925 13.3 855 8.2