The aging of the population, which results from declining fertility rates and an ever-increasing life expectancy, affects the entire country. However, the effect of this aging varies from one region to the next. The proportion of people aged 65 and older ranged from 2.7% in Nunavut to 15.4% in Saskatchewan, according to the 2006 Census.
As in 2001, the population east of Ontario was generally older than average in 2006, and it was distinctly younger in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alberta, the provinces where seniors are proportionally fewer.
The Atlantic region is the oldest of all Canada’s major regions. It has proportionally more people aged 65 and older (14.7%) and fewer children under 15 years (16.1%) than anywhere else. In 1956, seniors made up 7.8% of the population in the Atlantic provinces—a proportion that was smaller than in Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia.
In Quebec, the number of seniors has more than quadrupled in the last 50 years. In 2006, Quebec had one million people aged 65 and older, accounting for 14.3% of that province’s population. In 1956, 5.7% of Quebec’s population was 65 and older, the lowest proportion of all the provinces.
British Columbia’s population has been one of the oldest in Canada for the last 50 years. In 2006, 14.6% of that province’s population had reached the age of 65, compared with 13.7% in Canada as a whole. People younger than 15 years in British Columbia made up 16.5% of the population, a smaller proportion than the national average of 17.7%. In 1956, British Columbia’s population was the oldest in Canada.