The demographic tsunami will hit Atlantic Canada first
David Campbell, The Globe and Mail
In his column on November 5, Jeffrey Simpson did a good job of explaining the looming impact of the aging population in Canada and how it will eventually impact public services.
What he didn’t say is this demographic tsunami is hitting Atlantic Canada first and this region has far less capacity to address it than the rest of Canada.
In 1971, the median age of the population in Atlantic Canada was less than the national average. Alberta had an older population compared to all four Atlantic Provinces. After decades of people “goin’ down the road” and very little immigration, Atlantic Canada is now much older than the rest of Canada.
In 2010, the median age of the population in Atlantic Canada was a full seven years older than in Alberta.
In 1971, there were 3.5 people under the age of 20 in New Brunswick for every person over the age of 60. By 2010, there are now more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 20. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the total population under the age of 20 has dropped by 58 per cent since 1971 while it has increased by 35 per cent in Alberta.
This is a profound demographic shift. In the 1970s, Atlantic Canada’s economy was too weak to absorb all of the young people coming into the work force. Now there are not enough young people just to replace those heading into retirement.