- Canadian life expectancy nears 81, but North lags behind.
- Our health workers are aging, too
- Expect Canada’s labour force to change quite visibly over the next 20 years
- Find $46-billion to pay for aging population, budget watchdog says
The Windsor Star
New statistics show that Canadians are living longer lives, with those born between 2006 and 2008 reaching a life expectancy of 80.9 years.
Data released by Statistics Canada Tuesday showed life expectancy at birth for the three-year period was up 0.2 years compared to the average for people born between 2005 to 2007. It's a significant gain from the national average of 78.4 years in 1995.
Canadians living in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are living longer lives compared to the national average with B.C. residents hitting the highest life expectancy at 81.4 years.
The lowest life expectancy at birth was recorded in the three territories combined where, at birth, life expectancy sat at 75.2 years.
Across the country, an upward trend of seniors living longer continued, the federal agency reported.
At age 65, seniors had a life expectancy of another 20 years in 2006 to 2008, also up 0.2 year compared to 2005 to 2007.
Jack Goodman, an associate professor in the University of Toronto's faculty of physical education and health, said a steadily increasing lifespan for Canadians can be expected as medical advancements and healthier lifestyles pave the way for greater longevity.
"When we look at healthy aging and even aging in the presence of disease, there's one thing that's always a factor and that's medical care," Goodman said Tuesday. "The hypothetical (situation) is that there's more medical support and resources available . . . and that's a definite factor that would in some way play a role (in longer life expectancy).
"I believe the number of baby boomers who are just passing middle age now — as their activity patterns are much higher (than the current elderly population) were when they were of baby boomer age — are going to be in much better shape . . . and should have continually increasing lifespans."
As life expectancy in the country climbed, the gap between the sexes narrowed.
"While men generally have a lower life expectancy than women, the gains made in the previous 10 years have narrowed the gender gap," Statistics Canada said in the release.
"During the 1996 to 1998 period, the gap in life expectancy at birth between men and women was 5.6 years, whereas in 2006-08 it was 4.6 years."
Now, the nationwide average expectancy is 78.5 for men and 83.1 for women.
By Dr. Jodi L. Abbott, Edmonton Journal October 3, 2011
In health-care circles it's being called the perfect storm - baby boomers are starting to retire in increasingly large numbers, as are the front-line health-care workers providing support to them. Therefore the continuing care worker shortages we are currently experiencing are expected to grow.
In 2007, 75 per cent of elder care was provided by people between 45 and 64 years of age, according to Statistics Canada. That means many of those providing care to seniors were approaching retirement themselves. Nearly 16 per cent of caregivers were younger seniors aged 65 to 74, and eight per cent of caregivers were aged 75 and over.
Statistics Canada projections show that by 2056, the proportion of Canadians 65 years and older will more than double to over one in four. In addition, the proportion of seniors 80 years and over will triple to about one in 10, compared with about one in 30 in 2005. In Alberta, there are currently about 110,000 people receiving publicly funded, continuing care services in home care, assisted/ supportive living and long-term care facilities.
With our society rapidly aging, we will experience a significant increase in the burden of chronic disease throughout the age spectrum. This puts pressure on both the continuing-care system and the health-care system as a whole, especially when considering the demographics of front-line health-care workers.
The province's complement of health-care aides is of particular concern as they provide 70 per cent of direct care within continuing care. Health-care aides are also an important profession within acute care. Seniors now being admitted for continuing-care services are far more acute than they were just a decade ago. Conditions like kidney failure, diabetes and dementia are common.
While there are clearly challenges, there are also tremendous opportunities for collaboration. The numbers dictate that we must continue -to strengthen our continuing-care partnerships.
It is also imperative that we prepare our graduates to deal with the increasingly complex demands of the continuing-care environment. Meeting the growing demand for qualified health-care workers is one facet of NorQuest College's nationally recognized leadership in healthcare education.
Continued expansion of NorQuest's practical nurse diploma program, already one of the largest in Canada, directly addresses the Alberta government's target to double the number of licensed practical nurse graduates in Alberta, adding 1,000 by 2012. NorQuest is also home to Canada's largest health care aide certificate program, whose graduates provide direct care to seniors. The success of our programs depends on community support and reaching our students where they live and work.
Last month, for example, NorQuest hosted the eighth annual Gary Mar Charity Golf Classic, which raises funds for continuing-care education at the college. Thanks to strong community participation, the tournament raised $128,700 toward the development of STAN in a Van, a high-tech simulation centre on wheels for NorQuest's rural healthcare students. Working with Nor-Quest's Centre for Excellence in Continuing Care, students using STAN in a Van will be able to run health-care scenarios that seniors experience.
In addition, NorQuest is continuing to reach out by discussing the importance of quality continuing care at two conferences this week.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Alberta Continuing Care Association's annual conference and trade show, this year titled "IQ 2011: Inspiring Quality in Continuing Care," will provide operators, program managers and care providers with information on current programs and research on how to improve the quality, design and delivery of continuing care services. Complementing the conference is NorQuest's 11th annual health care aide c onference on Friday. The conference is the largest in Alberta and among the largest of its kind in Canada.
Beyond discussions about challenges and best practices, these conferences provide us with an opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions front-line healthcare workers make to the lives of their clients.
With the challenges at hand and ahead, it's up to communities, government, health-care providers, postsecondary institutions and industry to foster innovative solutions.
JOHN CLINKARD - consulting economist, CanaData - Daily Commercial News, September 29, 2011
It is generally recognized that the gradual aging of baby boomers born between 1947 and 1966 will have a major impact on many aspects of the economy over the next 20 years.
The most significant impact of this development will probably be on the labour force since along with productivity, sustained labour force growth underpins the future health of the Canadian economy.
In an attempt to look into the future, Statistics Canada recently published new labour force projections based on its Demosim Microsimulation Model which, in addition to the normal demographic variables which affect the labour force, also takes into account the projected effect of changes in education, of immigration and of visible minority groups.
As it has done in the past, StatsCan developed five labour force scenarios based on different sets of key assumptions.
According to all five scenarios, Canada’s labour force will range from 20.5 million to 22.5 million compared to its current level of 18.7 million.
However, according to all five of the projections, by 2031, the ratio of individuals in the labour force to seniors (65 years and older) not in the labour force will drop from its present level of 5 to 1 to less than 3 to 1.
Based on projected growth of immigration over the next twenty years, about one of every three labour force participants could be foreign born although, according to StatsCan, the proportion will be higher in Ontario and British Columbia.
Three of the five StatsCan scenarios project that by 2021 (ten years) approximately one in four persons in the labour force will be 55 years or older compared to the current ratio of one in six persons.
StatsCan qualifies its labour force projection based on a number of recent trends.
First, although the aging of the baby boomers will cause retirements to increase, the impact of this trend may be less than projected due to the increased participation of women who tend to remain longer in the workforce.
Also, given that more educated workers retire later, the steady rise in levels of education in Canada over the past several years may moderate the decline in labour force participation in the future.
However, despite these recent moderating trends, the slowdown in labour force growth caused by the aging baby boom will definitely impede Canada’s growth prospects over the medium term.
John Clinkard has over 30 years’ experience as an economist in international, national and regional research and analysis with leading financial institutions and media outlets in Canada.
Canada’s labour force: aged 55 years and older vs. born outside Canada*
*Projection based on current (1999-2008) trends
Data Sources: Statisics Canada /Chart: Reed Construction Data, CanaData.
Ottawa— Globe and Mail Update
Published Thursday, Sep. 29, 2011 10:49AM EDT
Ottawa and the provinces need to close an ongoing, combined budget gap of $46-billion through tax hikes, spending cuts or a mix of both in order to put government finances on a solid footing, the Parliamentary Budget Officer warns in a new report.
Focusing on the sharp demographic shift on the horizon as the number of retirees rises and the percentage of Canadians who are of working age shrinks, Kevin Page’s 2011 Fiscal Sustainability Report looks at federal and provincial finances over the next 75 years.
“The fiscal structure at the federal and provincial-territorial level is not sustainable over the long term,” the report states. “Population aging will put downward pressure on revenues, as growth in economic activity, and therefore the tax base, slows. At the same time, aging will put upward pressure on programs whose benefits are mostly realized by Canadians in older age groups.”
Governments have focused on the short term during three years of turmoil in the global economy, which triggered stimulus spending and increased government debt. But Mr. Page said government leaders must also focus on the long-term cost of this higher debt burden.
“Policy makers will need to address the aging demographic issue. We feel it should be part of the discussion leading up to the 2012 budget,” Mr. Page said in an email to the Globe prior to the report’s release.
The dependency ratio – a measure of the number of Canadians 65 years of age or higher in contrast to the population who are 15 to 64 – is projected to rise as much this decade as it did over the past 40 years. Mr. Page said demographics and the cost of health care clearly should be a big part of negotiations to renew transfer deals with the provinces that expire in 2014.
There are different ways of measuring combined debt. The PBO points to Statistics Canada data that show combined federal, provincial and municipal liabilities of $846-billion for 2011.
The report focuses on the “fiscal gap” – a measurement of the added revenue or lower spending that would be needed to make government finances sustainable over the long term. The PBO estimates this gap at 2.7 per cent of GDP annually, or $46-billion.
To put that in context, the PBO report notes that federal and provincial spending cuts during the mid 1990s amounted to 6.2 per cent of GDP, but those cuts were ultimately reversed over time.
The PBO report makes a large assumption in its calculations. It assumes that federal transfers to the provinces will continue to grow at current rates. Ottawa and the provinces must renew the current arrangement before it expires in 2014. That deal allowed health transfers to grow by six per cent a year, while social transfers and equalization grew by about three per cent a year.
The PBO report notes that if federal transfers were instead reduced to grow only in line with growth in the economy at large, it would simply transfer the fiscal gap onto the shoulders of the provinces.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to opposition questions on the economy on Wednesday by insisting his government is striking the right balance between stimulus spending and returning to balanced budgets.
“The government continues to run a significant deficit, as is appropriate at these times, but we are taking steps to ensure the budget will balance as the economy grows,” Mr. Harper said.
The Globe and Mail reported earlier this year that while the Conservative government is saying little about its plans to renew transfers or address the demographic challenge, internal documents show the issue is creating a great deal of activity behind the scenes in terms of high-level meetings and briefings.
Documents obtained by The Globe under an Access to Information request highlighted a string of statistical warnings, including the fact that Canada will move from the 27th oldest to the 11th oldest country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation within 20 years.
Demographic change leads to debate on a wide range of potential policy options, from raising the retirement age, encouraging higher fertility rates, boosting immigration, tackling health care costs or future levels of taxation and government services for younger workers.