Unlike most of Canada, Saskatchewan’s kids still outnumber its seniors.
The latest round of data released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday show seniors made up 16.1 per cent of Canada’s population as of July 1, 2015, compared to 16.0 per cent for children between the ages of 0 and 14. However, the prairie provinces still had more children under 15 years old then people over 65 years old.
“In the prairie provinces what we are seeing in general is that the fertility rate is higher than the rest of Canada. With a high fertility rate, prairie provinces have more children proportionally compared to the rest of Canada,” Statistics Canada analyst Patrick Charbonneau said.
“This isn’t the case elsewhere in Canada where what we are seeing is there are more seniors than young children.”
The statistics show that 19 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population is under 15 years old while 14.6 per cent of the population is 65 years old or older. The average age is 37.
“One factor that may explain (it) is the fact that in the prairie provinces the proportion of the aboriginal population is higher than the rest of Canada. From what we know with the data we collect, the aboriginal (population) tends to have a higher fertility rate then the non-aboriginal population,” Charbonneau explained.
Sask Trends Monitor Publisher Doug Elliott agreed that the younger population is linked to the relatively large aboriginal population which is younger and having more children. He also said we have fewer seniors because many chose to retire outside of the province.
“It’s actually good news from a couple of senses. Seniors, and I’m one of them, we tend to be heavy users of the health care system which makes us expensive. We tend not to generate a lot of economic activity,” Elliott explained.
“The expenditures that we do make tend to be for travel out of the country … so not having a lot of seniors isn’t particularly an economic problem.”
There are still concerns including Saskatchewan’s shortage of people in the primary labour market age group from about 20 to 65 years old.
“You do need lots of folks in that age group in order for an economy to grow,” he said.
Elliott also pointed out that the age difference varies across the province as well.
“This relatively long population is concentrated in Regina and Saskatoon. There is an issue in rural Saskatchewan,” he said. “There (are) a lot of communities outside the major cities where there is a lot of seniors and no children and that’s part of the reason rural Saskatchewan is having trouble staying viable in terms of population.”
With the rest of Canada having more seniors then children for the first time in history, Elliott said that will impact the young prairie population.
“We are not an island here at all. We pay federal taxes and we have to worry about sparing the Canada Pension Plan and old age security and all that stuff so Saskatchewan may have a relatively young population but as a part of Canada we need to be concerned,” he said.
“As a province as a whole we are in good shape, but we are still part of Canada which is not in great shape and there are parts of the province that are not doing as well either. “
– With files from the Canadian Press