Canada’s population statistics past, present and future show two clear trends: fewer children and many more seniors (as a percentage of population). Given these realities, the constant refrain for national day care is a distraction from a more pressing Canadian need: to ensure appropriate care for our growing senior population.
With every passing generation over the last 40 years, the number of children as a percentage of the population has decreased. In 1970, 17 children were born for every 1000 Canadian citizens1 and the Total Fertility Rate (TFR,representing the total number of children a woman will give birth to during her fertile years) was higher than the 2.1 number (the TFR required to maintain current population levels through births alone). In 2006, only 10 children were born for every 1000 citizens2 and the TFR had dropped to 1.59.3 While the 1980’s saw an increase in the TFR, the last time the Canadian TFR was higher than 2.1 was 1971.4 Viewed from another perspective: from 1979 to 1999, the fertility of Canadian women aged 20 to 24 decreased nearly 40 per cent, and fertility among those aged 25 to 29 declined about 25 per cent.5
Successive generations of Canadians post World War II have had successively fewer children: in 2002, 35 per cent of seniors aged 65-74 had had 4 or more children still living, while only 11 per cent of parents aged 45-54 had the same number.6
Over the next 30 years, the number of Canadians 65 and over is set to explode,as the so-called “baby-boomer” generation is just now beginning to reach seniority. These seniors will require increasingly intensive care as they undergo the natural aging process while a portion will also deal with chronic or terminal illness.
- Family members must consider where they will live relative to their
- Caregivers should become aware of homecare services available
- Employers will need to explore ways in which concepts such as fl extime
can allow employees time to care for their aging parents.
- Local communities should explore ways in which seniors can be
supported to stay in their own homes as long as possible.
- Governments should investigate ways in which they can encourage
these alternate modes of care.
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