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Aboriginal seniors in population centres in Canada, 2012

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Released: 2017-03-21

The Aboriginal population is a young population, with proportionally more children and youth and relatively few seniors. There is a demographic shift, however, towards aging among Aboriginal peoples. According to the 2001 Census and the 2011 National Household Survey, the number of Aboriginal people 65 years and over more than doubled from 2001 to 2011 to 82,690.

In 2011, more than half (52% or 43,130) of Aboriginal seniors were living in population centres. This was a notable change from 2001 when most Aboriginal seniors lived in rural or reserve communities. A population centre is an area with a population of at least 1,000 persons and no fewer than 400 persons per square kilometre.

The study "Aboriginal seniors in population centres in Canada" presents several topics related to the well-being of Aboriginal seniors living in private households in population centres, including their living arrangements, socioeconomic conditions and health condition. Aboriginal seniors are comprised of First Nations, Métis and Inuit seniors 65 years and over.

Most Aboriginal seniors in population centres live in a family context

In 2011, most Aboriginal seniors in population centres were living in a family context, either with their spouse or partner, with their own children, or with other relatives. Living with a spouse or partner was the most common living arrangement for both men (65%) and women (40%). However, almost as many Aboriginal senior women were living alone (38%).

When asked who they would turn to for support in times of need, 73% of Aboriginal seniors in population centres reported family members such as a spouse, son or daughter, 7% reported non-relatives such as friends, neighbours or coworkers, and 12% named both family members and non-relatives. The remaining 8% reported having no one to turn to for support in times of need.

Many Aboriginal seniors face health challenges

Data from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey reported that about 9 in 10 Aboriginal seniors living in population centres reported having at least one chronic condition. High blood pressure and arthritis (excluding fibromyalgia) were the most commonly reported of these conditions.

More working into their senior years

Over time, more Aboriginal people are working into their senior years. The percentage of Aboriginal seniors in population centres holding a paid job almost doubled from 2001 (7%) to 2011 (13%). The situation was comparable for non-Aboriginal seniors in population centres: from 7% in 2001 to 12% in 2011.

In population centres in 2011, about one-quarter of Aboriginal seniors were in a low-income situation compared with 13% of non-Aboriginal seniors. Almost half (49%) of Aboriginal senior women living alone were part of the low-income population.

  Note to readers

'Low-income' refers to the after-tax low-income measure (LIM-AT). The LIM-AT uses the after-tax income of households. There are no regional variations to account for price or cost of living differences; all applicable households in Canada face the same line adjusted for household size. This line is set at half the median of adjusted household after-tax income. To account for potential economies of scale, the income of households with more than one member is divided by the square root of the size of the household. The LIM-AT is not applied in the territories.

Findings are limited to persons living in private dwellings. Those living in collective dwellings, such as nursing homes, chronic care or long-term care hospitals and residences for senior citizens, are excluded due to a lack of available data.

Data are for First Nations people living off-reserve, Metis and Inuit.


The article "Aboriginal seniors in population centres in Canada" (Catalogue number89-653-X) is now available.

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