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Chapter 1. Demographic trends and the geography of aging
In this chapter, we provide an overview of population aging in Canada along three dimensions: How many? Where? and Who? We first examine how many seniors there are in Canada and how many there are projected to be in the decades ahead. Next, we examine the geographic distribution of seniors across provinces and urban and rural areas, and the extent to which cities and towns are aging. And finally, we consider the composition of Canada 's seniors in terms of immigration status, language and ethnicity.
Throughout most of the twentieth century, a fairly small proportion of the Canadian population was comprised of persons aged 65 or older. In the 1920s and 1930s, seniors accounted for about 5% of the population, while in the 1950s and 1960s they accounted for less than 8% (Chart 1.1). High fertility rates, low life expectancy and a small population base comprised of many non-elderly immigrants contributed to this profile.
Chart 1.1 Percentage of Canadian population comprised of persons aged 65 or older, 1921 to 2005 and projections to 2056
The situation is far different today. Low fertility rates, longer life expectancy and the effects of the baby boom generation are among the factors contributing to the aging of the population. Between 1981 and 2005, the number of seniors in Canada increased from 2.4 to 4.2 million and their share of the total population increased from 9.6% to 13.1%. Consequently, older age groups are more and more represented in the total Canadian population.
The aging of the population will accelerate over the next three decades, particularly as individuals from the Baby Boom years of 1946 to 1965 begin turning age 65. The number of seniors in Canada is projected to increase from 4.2 million to 9.8 million between 2005 and 2036, and seniors' share of the population is expected to almost double, increasing from 13.2% to 24.5% (Table 1.1). Population aging will continue between 2036 and 2056, but at a slower pace. Over this period, the number of seniors is projected to increase from 9.8 million to 11.5 million and their share of the total population is projected to rise from 24.5% to 27.2%.
Trends by age groups
Within the senior population, demographic trends will continue to vary considerably across age groups in the years ahead. Between 1981 and 2005, the number of Canadians aged 65 to 74 increased from 1.5 million to 2.2 million, and their share of the total population increased from 6.0% to 6.9% (Chart 1.2). As individuals from the baby boom generation enter this age group, the number of 65 to 74 years olds is projected to increase to 4.8 million by 2031, accounting for 12.4% of the total population at that time. Between 2031 and 2041, 65 to 74 year olds are projected to account for a declining share of the total population, although in 2041 an estimated 4.5 million Canadians are expected to be in this age group (over a total population of 40.8 million).
Chart 1.2 Percentage of the total population comprised of seniors, by age group, Canada 1981 to 2005, projections from 2011 to 2056
Between 1981 and 2005, the number of Canadians aged 75 to 84 more than doubled, increasing from 695,000 to 1.5 million, and their share of the total population rose from 2.8% to 4.6%. Over the next 15 years, the share of the total population in this age group is projected to remain fairly stable at around 5%, although by 2021 the absolute number of 75 to 84 year olds is expected to reach 2 million. It is between 2026 and 2041 that the largest increase in the 75 to 84 years age group is projected to occur. The share of the total population in this age group is projected to increase from 6.9% to 9.7% over this period, and the number of 75 to 84 year olds is expected to reach 3.9 million by 2041. The continued aging of the baby boom generation is a primary factor behind this trend.
The number of seniors aged 85 or older has grown rapidly over the last two decades. Between 1981 and 2005, the number of individuals in this age group increased from 196,000 to 492,000 and their share of the total population increased from 0.8% to 1.5%. Between 2005 and 2021, the absolute number of people aged 85 or older is projected to increase to 800,000, although their share of the total population will remain around 2%. However, between 2021 and 2056, as the baby boomers enter this age group, the number of persons aged 85 or older is projected to increase from 800,000 to 2.5 million, and their share of the total population is expected to almost triple, rising from 2.1% to 5.8%.
Projections of the percentage of Canadians in older age groups in the years ahead are projected using assumptions about fertility rates, life expectancy and net migration. Additional projections based on different assumptions are presented in Table 1.1.
Table 1.1 Projections of the population, 2006 to 2056, by age group, Low-growth, Moderate-growth and High-growth scenarios
Senior men and women
Most seniors are women, and this is especially so in older age groups. In 2005 women accounted for almost 75% of persons aged 90 or older, while they accounted for 52% of persons aged 65 to 69. Longer life expectancy among women explains their over-representation in older age groups.
However, differences in life expectancy between women and men have begun to narrow and consequently the gender composition of older age groups is expected to become more even in the coming years. There is already some evidence of this shift. For example, between 1981 and 2005, the share of persons aged 80 to 84 who were men increased from 37% to 39% (Chart 1.3). By 2021, men are projected to account for 43% of 80 to 84 year olds, with this share projected to increase to 46% by 2056. The same trends are projected within other older age groups.
Chart 1.3 Percentage of persons within age groups who are men, Canada, 1981 and 2005, projections to 2056
The geography of aging
Population aging is not unique to Canada. Indeed, the share of the population comprised of seniors is smaller in Canada than it is in most other Western industrialized countries. In 2005, 13.1% of all people in Canada were aged 65 and over compared with 19.7% in Japan and 16% in the United Kingdom. However, seniors account for a slightly smaller share of the population in United States (at 12.3%) than in Canada. Population projections also indicate that there is likely to be a widening difference in the age profiles of Canada and the United States, as seniors are projected to make up 20.7% of the U.S. population in 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004) compared to 26.5% of the Canadian population in 2051. The higher fertility rate in the United States is the main factor behind this divergence.
We now turn our attention from the number of seniors in Canada to where seniors reside. We examine population aging within and across provinces and territories, across urban and rural areas, and in specific cities and towns.
There are considerable inter-provincial differences in the share of provincial populations comprised of seniors. Seniors' share of the population is largest in Saskatchewan (14.8%), Nova Scotia (14.2%) and Prince Edward Island (14.1%) and the smallest in Alberta (10.5%) and Ontario (12.8%).
Nunavut, the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories have much younger age structures than the ten provinces. Nunavut is particularly unique, with only 2.6% of its population aged 65 and over. The number of seniors in each province and territory is shown in Table 1.2.
Population projections show that seniors will account for a growing share of the population in all provinces and territories in the decades ahead. However, there are considerable differences in the magnitude of the projected increase. In Manitoba, for example, the share of the population comprised of seniors is projected to increase from 13.5% to 19.9% between 2005 and 2026 - an increase of 6.4 percentage points. Increases of a comparable size are projected in Ontario (7.1 percentage points), British Columbia (8.3 percentage points) and Alberta (8.7 percentage points) (chart 1.4). In contrast, the share of the population comprised of seniors in Newfoundland and Labrador is projected to increase from 13.1% to 26.6% - an increase of 13.4 percentage points. Relatively large increases are also projected in New Brunswick (11.7 percentage points), Nova Scotia (11.0 percentage points) and the Yukon Territory (11.0 percentage points). Overall, across the ten provinces, the share of the population comprised of seniors will increase least in Ontario and the West and most in the Atlantic provinces. And while seniors currently account for a relatively small share of the population in each of the territories, this share is projected to more than double over the next twenty years.
Chart 1.4 Percentage of population aged 65 or older comprised of seniors, by province, 2005 and projection for 2026
Population projections also suggest that differences in the age structures of the ten provinces will widen in the decades ahead. More specifically, the 'gap' between the provinces with the largest and smallest shares of seniors in their population is projected to widen from 4.3 to 7.4 percentage points in between 2005 and 2026. Detailed provincial projections of the share of the population comprised of seniors are presented in Table 1.3.
Table 1.3 Projections of the share of the population comprised of seniors, by province and territory, medium growth and medium interprovincial migration, 2011 to 2031
The distribution of seniors across provinces
Most of Canada 's population (62.4%) resides in Ontario and Quebec, and likewise, most seniors reside in those two provinces as well (62.9%) (Table 1.4). Between 1981 and 2005, there was a small shift in the distribution of the total population and in the population of seniors across the provinces and territories. Considering all seniors in Canada, the share residing in the four Atlantic provinces declined from 9.4% to 7.7% over this period. Declines were also evident in the shares in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia posted gains.
Table 1.4 Distribution of seniors and non-seniors across the provinces and territories, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2005 and projection for 2026
Projections indicate that between 2004 and 2026, the distribution of seniors across the provinces will change very little. The most noticeable change is a projected increase from 8.1% to 9.5% in the share of Canada 's seniors located in Alberta.
The distribution of seniors across urban and rural areas
Canada is increasingly urban. Between 1981 and 2001, the share of all Canadians residing in large urban centres (also known as Census metropolitan areas) increased from 57.8% to 64.6%, while the shares residing in smaller cities and towns and in rural areas declined. This was evident across all age groups, as the share of seniors residing in a Census metropolitan area (CMA) increased from 53.8% to 60.7% over this period and the share of non-seniors increased from 58.5% to 65.5% (chart 1.5).
Chart 1.5 Percentage of Canadians residing in Census metropolitan areas, by age group, 1981 and 2001
The extent to which seniors live in small communities that are distant from urban centres has implications for the provision of services, such as health care and home support. The distribution of seniors across detailed urban-rural categories is shown in Table 1.5. In 2001, just under 61% of seniors lived in one of Canada 's 27 Census metropolitan areas and another 9.1% lived in other urban areas with populations of 50,000 or more. Combining these two categories, about seven of every ten seniors in Canada lived in an urban centre with at least 50,000 residents. Another 7.6% lived in smaller communities -- 4.8% in communities with populations of 25,000 to 49,999 and 2.8% in communities with populations of 25,000 or less.
Finally, 22.6% of seniors live in rural areas. However, it should be noted that these rural areas vary in terms of their proximity and integration with urban centres. Rural and small town areas can be disaggregated into four metropolitan influenced zones (MIZ) sub-groups based on the size of commuting flows of the workforce to any CMA or Census Agglomeration (CA). The Strong MIZ category comprises areas with a commuting flow of 30% or more. The Moderate MIZ category comprises areas with a commuting flow between 5% and 29%. The Weak MIZ category comprises areas with a commuting flow of more than zero percent and less than 5%. The No MIZ category comprises those areas where no individuals commute to a CMA/CA1. Across Canada, 8.4% of all seniors live in rural areas with weak or no metropolitan influence, and another 9.2% live in rural areas with moderate metropolitan influence.
Across the provinces and territories, the share of seniors residing in rural areas characterized by moderate, weak or no metropolitan influence is highest in the Northwest Territories (77%), Newfoundland (55%), Saskatchewan (47%), New Brunswick (43%) and Nova Scotia (40%) and is lowest in Ontario (9%) and British Columbia (13%) (chart 1.6). In this respect, there is considerable variation between provinces in the extent to which services provided to seniors (and non-seniors) must reach individuals residing outside of urban centres. Generally speaking however, provinces in which greater proportions of non-seniors live in rural areas are also the provinces in which a greater proportion of seniors live in such areas.
Chart 1.6 Percentage of population in rural areas with moderate, weak or no metropolitan influence, by province and age group, 2001
Seniors in Canada's cities and towns
Across Canada 's 27 CMAs, there is considerable variation in the share of the population comprised of seniors. The shares are largest in St Catharines-Niagara and Victoria, at 17%, followed by Trois-Rivières and Thunder Bay, at 16% and 15% respectively (Chart 1.7). In contrast, seniors account for less than 11% of the population in five CMAs, including Calgary (9.1%), St. John's (10.6%), Oshawa (10.6%), Edmonton (10.7%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (10.9%).
Between 1986 and 2004, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, and Greater Sudbury were the three CMAs in which the share of the population comprised of seniors increased most, with increases of more than five percentage points (Table 1.6). In Victoria, the share of the population comprised of seniors actually declined (by 0.8 percentage points), although a large share of the population is still comprised of seniors relative to other CMAs.
Table 1.6 Changes in the share of the population comprised of seniors in 25 CMAs, 1986, 1996 and 2004
In Canada's three largest urban areas - Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal - seniors account for 11.1%, 12.1% and 13.0% of the population respectively. Almost one-third of all seniors in Canada (31.6%) reside in one of these three CMAs, compared with 34.7% of non-seniors.
Across Canada 's smaller cities and towns, there is tremendous variation in the share of the population comprised of seniors. Among cities with populations of 25,000 to about 150,000, Penticton has the highest concentration of seniors with almost one-quarter of its residents aged 65 or older (23.9%) (Chart 1.8). Vernon and Kelowna, two other towns in BC's Okanagan Valley, also rank high. Seniors account for over 18% of the population in Thetford Mines and Shawinigan and for about 17% of the population in Peterborough, Orillia and Owen Sound. In contrast, seniors account for less than 8% of the population in several towns in northern Alberta, including Wood Buffalo, Grand Prairie and Cold Lake, and northern BC.
Chart 1.8 Percentage of population comprised of seniors, selected towns with populations of 25,000 or more, 2001
Among towns with populations under 25,000, Elliot Lake has the highest concentration of seniors, with one-quarter of its residents aged 65 or older (Chart 1.9). Seniors account for about one-fifth of all residents in Tillsonburg, Cobourg, Yorkton and Swift Current. Of the towns that have relatively small shares of their population comprised of seniors, many are located in the north, such as Yellowknife, Thompson, Whitehorse, and Fort. St. John.
Chart 1.9 Percentage of population comprised of seniors, selected towns with populations under 25,000, 2001
Finally, there is considerable variation in the rate at which cities and towns are aging. Considering urban areas with populations of about 10,000 to 150,000, the combined share of the population aged 65 or older increased from 11.5% to 13.4% between 1991 and 2001 -- a gain of 1.9 percentage points. Table 1.7 includes cities and towns that are 'aging rapidly' - that is, those in which the share of the population comprised of seniors increased by 2.5 percentage points or more over this period2. These 'rapidly aging' communities have been broadly organized into three groups based on selected demographic characteristics.
Table 1.7 Cities and towns experiencing a 'significant' increase in the share of the population comprised of seniors: Selected demographic characteristics, 1991 to 2001
Group 1 includes 'rapidly aging' communities that experienced a decline in their total population between 1991 and 2001, a decline in the number of individuals under 45 years of age, and an increase in the number of individuals aged 65 or older. As a group, these 21 communities experienced a 9.9% decline in their total population, a 24% decline in the number of persons under age 45, and a 27% increase in the number of persons aged 65 or older. The share of their combined population comprised of seniors increased by 4.0 percentage points. Twelve of these 21 communities are in Quebec.
Group 2 includes 'rapidly aging' communities that experienced an increase in their total population between 1991 and 2001, a decline in the number of individuals under age 45, and an increase in the number of individuals aged 65 or older. As a group, these 11 communities experienced a 3.9% increase in their total population, a 9% decline in the number of persons under 45 years of age, and a 31% increase in the number of persons aged 65 or older. The share of their combined population comprised of seniors increased by 3.0 percentage points. Eight of the 11 communities in this group are in Ontario and British Columbia. Although communities in Group 2 experienced a decline in the number of individuals under 45 years of age (-9%), the magnitude of this decline was smaller than that evident among communities in Group 1 (-24%).
Finally, Group 3 includes 'rapidly aging' communities that experienced an increase in their total population between 1991 and 20013, an increase in the number of persons under age 45, and an increase in the number of persons aged 65 or older. As a group, these 4 communities experienced a 28.8% increase in their total population, a 14% increase in the number of persons under age 45, and a 63% increase in the number of seniors. The share of their combined population comprised of seniors increased by 2.9 percentage points. This occurred because the number of seniors grew faster than the number of non-seniors.
Residential mobility of seniors
The likelihood of changing residences is strongly associated with where people are in the life course. Residential mobility is highest among individuals in their twenties and early thirties, many of whom are leaving the parental home and establishing their own households, and declines as people reach their forties and fifties. Seniors have long been less likely than people in younger age groups to change residences.
Between 1996 and 2001, just under one-fifth of all seniors in Canada (19.2%) changed addresses. Seniors aged 65 to 74 were slightly more likely to have done so than seniors aged 75 or older (at 20% and 18% respectively).4 Some factors associated with the likelihood of having changed residences are shown in Table 1.8. Seniors who were separated or divorced were more likely to have changed residences (31.2%) than those who were widowed (21.8%), never married (20.1%) or married or common-law (16.4%). Seniors who were limited in their activities by a long-term illness or disability were more likely to have changed residences (22.2%) than those with no such limitation (18.1%), with this correlation evident among seniors within all age groups. And finally, seniors residing in rented accommodation were about 2.5 times more likely to have moved than those residing in owned accommodation (35.9% and 13.7% respectively).
Table 1.8 Selected characteristics associated with residential mobility among non-institutionalized seniors, Canada 2001
Between 1981 and 2001, the percentage of seniors aged 65 to 74 who had changed residences in the previous five years declined by 7.1 percentage points, while the share of seniors aged 75 to 84 who had done so declined by 6.3 percentage points. This decline was particularly evident among seniors residing in rented accommodation. Among seniors aged 65 to 74, the proportion of renters who had moved in the previous five years declined by 10.6 percentage points, from 50.5% to 39.9%, while the share of home owners who moved declined by only 2.2 percentage points, from 16.9% to 14.7% (Table 1.9). Similar patterns were evident among seniors aged 75 to 84.
Chart 1.10 Percentage of persons who changed residences in previous five years, by age group, Canada 1981, 1991 and 2001
Seniors, like non-seniors, generally do not go very far when they change residences. Of the seniors aged 65 to 74 who moved between 1996 and 2001, two-thirds remained in the same geographic area in which they have previously resided (Table 1.10). Almost half (48.4%) stayed within the same Census metropolitan area, 10% remained within the same city or town, and 8.5% remained within the same rural area. About 10% moved from a more urban area to a less urban area while a comparable share moved in the opposite way. Given these figures, it is not surprising that only 1.2% of all seniors moved inter-provincial between 1996 and 2001. As a result, net migration of seniors was negligible in all provinces. In 2005, for example, the highest net migration of seniors was observed in British Columbia, with 1,184 more seniors moving into the province than moving out.
Table 1.10 Residential mobility patterns among seniors who changed addresses in the previous five years, by age group, 2001
Immigration, ethnicity and language
We now briefly consider some selected demographic characteristics of seniors in Canada, specifically, their immigration status, ethnicity and language profile. An overview of older Aboriginal people is also provided. More details on the characteristics of seniors are provided in subsequent chapters, including Chapter 7 which focuses on immigrant seniors and Chapter 6 which focuses on senior aboriginals.
Immigration and place of birth of seniors
A relatively large proportion of seniors in Canada are immigrants. In 2001, 28.6% of persons aged 65 to 74 and 28% of those aged 75 to 84 were immigrants (Table 1.11). These proportions compared to 21.3% in the 25 to 54 age group.
Table 1.11 Immigrant status and period of immigration for seniors and non-seniors, by age group, 2001
Most immigrants who are now aged 65 or older initially arrived in Canada when they were young. Of the immigrants who were aged 65 or older in 2001, 26.2% arrived in Canada when they were less than 25 years of age, and hence have lived here for at least four decades. Another 28.8% arrived when they were aged 25 to 34 and have lived here for at least three decades. In contrast, only 9% of immigrant seniors arrived in Canada since 1991.
On a year-by-year basis, seniors account for a very small share of new immigrants. In 2004, for example, 5,526 of the 235,824 immigrants and refugees admitted to Canada (2.3%) were aged 65 and older. Most of them (80%) were sponsored by a family member and admitted to Canada in the family class category. Between 1995 and 2004, individuals aged 65 or older consistently accounted for about 2% to 4% of all immigrants and refugees admitted to Canada, accounting about 4,000 to 8,000 people.
Over the last 20 years, there have been large changes in the source countries from which immigrants have come. Between 1981 and 2001, the share of all immigrants from Western/Northern Europe and the United States declined from 45.5% to 24.6% and the share from Asia increased from 13.9% to 36.5%. These changes are just beginning to be reflected in the characteristics of immigrants aged 65 and older, as the share from Asia increased from 5.6% to 19.1% between 1981 and 2001. Nonetheless, over half of all immigrant seniors (54%) are from countries in Western Europe. This share will decline in the decades ahead as younger immigrants from other regions age and become seniors in Canada. For the moment, seniors born in other places than Canada or a European country still represent a minority of the total population (Table 1.12)
While more than one-quarter of all seniors in Canada are immigrants, there are considerable variations across the ten provinces in this respect. Only 3% of seniors in Newfoundland and Labrador are immigrants compared with 39% and 41% of seniors in British Columbia and Ontario respectively (Chart 1.11). Overall, 54.6% of all immigrant seniors reside in Ontario, 19.3% in British Columbia and 12.1% in Québec (Table 1.13). Compared to these averages, most recent immigrant seniors who arrived in Canada between 1991 and 2001 are slightly more likely to reside in Ontario (55.9%) and British Columbia (25.3%), and slightly less likely than to reside in Québec (8.7%).
Finally, the share of long-term immigrants among immigrant seniors, i.e. the share of those who arrived in Canada before 1961, was higher in Saskatchewan (71.2%), Manitoba (63.5%) and New Brunswick (62.1%). In contrast, it was lower in Québec (47%), British Columbia (50.1%) and Ontario (53.1%) (Table 1.13).
Almost all seniors can speak one or both of Canada 's official languages. However, in 2001 4.5% of individuals aged 75 to 84 and 6.1% of those aged 85 and over could not speak either English or French (Chart 1.12). In contrast, only 0.9% of persons aged 25 to 54 could not speak one or both official languages.
Chart 1.12 Percentage of individuals who cannot speak an official language, by age group, Canada 1981, 1991 and 2001
Since 1981, the proportion of seniors unable to speak an official language has been on the rise. For example in 1981, 3.1% of senior men aged 85 and over could not speak English or French, compared to 5.2% in 2001. The changes in the source countries of immigration explain these increases (for instance less immigrant seniors from United Kingdom and more from Asia ).
Senior women were slightly more likely than men to be unable to speak at least one official language. For example, about 5% of women aged 65 to 74 could not speak an official language, compared to 3.2% of men (Chart 1.13). The same gap existed in older age groups. Historically, men have had a greater participation in the labour market and employment most often requires the knowledge of English or French. Some senior women who immigrated to Canada who did not have labour market experience might have spoken their mother tongue at home for most of their life.
Chart 1.13 Percentage of individuals who cannot speak an official language, by age group and sex, Canada, 2001
At the same time that the proportion of seniors who knew an official language decreased, the proportion of them using a non-official language at home increased. In 1981, 10.1% of individuals aged 65 to 74 used a non-official language at home and that proportion increased to 13.5% in 2001 (Chart 1.14). Similar increases were observed for all age groups except the 75 to 84 year range, in which the proportion of individuals using a non-official language at home decreased between 1981 and 2001.
Chart 1.14 Percentage of individuals using a non-official language at home, by age group, 1981 to 2001
Under the Employment Equity Act, members of visible minorities are persons, other than Aboriginal persons, who are not white in race or colour. Persons in visible minority groups account for an increasing share of Canada 's senior and non-senior populations. Between 1981 and 2001, the share of seniors belonging to a visible minority increased from 2.3% to 7.2%; among persons aged 25 to 54, this share increased from 5.5% to 13.9% (Chart 1.15). Of the 7.2% of seniors who belonged to a visible minority group, the largest share (39%) were Chinese (Table 1.14).
Chart 1.15 Persons in visible minority groups as percent of total population, by age group, Canada 1981 to 2001
In 2001, more than 976,000 Canadians reported that they were Aboriginal, including about 39,600 Aboriginal seniors (65 years of age or older). The Aboriginal population is much younger than the non-Aboriginal population. In 2001, only 4% of Aboriginal people were 65 years and over compared to 13% of the non-Aboriginal population. Of the three Aboriginal groups, Inuit were the youngest population, with only 3% of Inuit 65 years and over (Table 1.15).
Not only do seniors make up a smaller percentage of the Aboriginal population, but Aboriginal seniors are younger than non-Aboriginal seniors. In 2001, about 3% of the Aboriginal population were between the ages of 65 and 74, and 1% were 75 years and over. On the other hand, 7% of the total Canadian population fell between the ages of 65 and 74 years, and 5% were 75 years and over.
Ontario had the largest number of Aboriginal seniors of any province or territory. In 2001, 8,600 Aboriginal seniors, or more than one in five of all Aboriginal seniors in Canada, called Ontario home (Table 1.16). British Columbia (7,240) and Manitoba (5,535) had the next largest Aboriginal seniors' populations.
While Aboriginal people made up about 3% of the total Canadian population in 2001, Aboriginal seniors made up only 1% of the total Canadian senior population. Of all the provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan had the largest proportion of Aboriginal seniors in their senior populations (4% of all seniors in Manitoba and 3% of seniors in Saskatchewan were Aboriginal). Aboriginal people make up much larger shares of the population in the territories. In Nunavut, 91% of seniors were Aboriginal, as were 65% of seniors in the Northwest Territories and 21% of seniors in the Yukon Territory. (Table 1.16)
As in the non-Aboriginal population, women outnumber men among Aboriginal seniors. In 2001, among Aboriginal people aged 65 and over, 54% were women and 46% were men. Similar distributions were found in the North American Indian population (56% women and 44% men) and in the Métis population (52% women and 48% men). Among Inuit seniors, however, men outnumber women. In 2001, 55% of Inuit aged 65 and over were men and 45% were women. This is in part explained by higher maternal mortality rates that prevailed when these senior women were in their child-bearing years (Choinière et al., 2005).
Aboriginal seniors less urbanized than their non-Aboriginal counterparts
While the vast majority (80%) of non-Aboriginal seniors live in urban areas, the situation is quite different for Aboriginal seniors. In 2001, only one in four Inuit seniors and one in three North American Indian seniors lived in urban areas. Among Métis seniors, the most urbanized of the Aboriginal groups, 62% were living in urban areas (Table 1.17).
In 2001, over half of North American Indian seniors (53%) lived on reserve. Older North American Indian adults were more likely to live on reserve than their younger counterparts - in 2001, 42% of North American Indian adults 25 to 54 years and 45% of those 55 to 64 years were living on reserve. Conversely, North American Indian seniors were less likely to live in urban areas than younger North American Indian adults. For example, 18% of North American Indian seniors lived in one of Canada's largest cities (census metropolitan areas), compared to 28% of those 25 to 54 and 23% of those 55 to 64 years.
Most Inuit seniors live in the far North. In 2001, three-quarters of Inuit 65 years and over lived in rural non-reserve areas, mainly in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. This is explained by the fact that these provinces and territories contain the Inuit regions of Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut. In 2001, only a small percentage (4%) of Inuit seniors lived in census metropolitan areas, while another 17% lived in smaller urban centres. (Table 1.17)
Although Métis seniors were the most urbanized of all Aboriginal seniors, they were still much less likely to live in urban areas than non-Aboriginal seniors. In 2001, 34% of Métis seniors were living in census metropolitan areas and 28% were living in other urban centres, while 58% of non-Aboriginal seniors were living in census metropolitan areas and 22% were living in other urban areas. Over one third (34%) of Métis seniors were living in rural areas, compared to 19% of non-Aboriginal seniors. (Table 1.17)