Understanding the Changing Ratio of Working-Age Canadians to Seniors and Its Consequences
26 May 2022
This bulletin presents the most recent data and projections about population aging in Canada. It focuses particularly on the change in the ratio of working-age people to seniors over age 65.
The rate of population growth in Canada slowed considerably in the second half of the 20th century and has remained historically low since then.
The share of Canada’s population aged 65 or older increased from 14.1 percent in 2010 to 19.0 percent in 2022. Statistics Canada data projects this number will increase to 25 percent by the middle of the century.
The share of Canada’s population that is of working age is shrinking, while the share that is age 65 or over is growing. To help shed light on the economic and public finance challenges this trend is creating, we examine historical data and projections that look at how many people there are between the age of 15 and 64 for each person 65 or older.
In 1966 there were 7.7 working-age individuals for every senior. This ratio has dropped quickly since then and stands at 3.4 in 2022. Statistics Canada projects this trend will continue in the decades ahead. There will be just 3.0 working-age people for each senior by 2027, after which the ratio will slowly fall further to reach 2.3 by 2068.
The shrinking ratio of working-age Canadians to seniors will put pressure on public finances in the years ahead as there will be fewer working taxpayers to help fund cash transfers to seniors and the increasing health care costs that will result from an aging population.