MONTREAL - The seniors are coming, the seniors are coming. But so are the babies.
At 65 plus, just short of half a million Montrealers already qualify for senior citizen discounts, according to the latest census figures from Statistics Canada released Tuesday.
And with more than 128,000 Montrealers already having celebrated their 80th birthday and life expectancy inching ever higher, pressure is on to grapple with the needs and demands of this formidable segment of the population, a sprawling demographic which includes children of the Great Depression, veterans of the Second World War and old hippies who rocked at Woodstock.
From public transit and employment levels to anti-aging creams, luxury condo complexes and chronic care facilities, governments, municipalities and designers are trying to figure out how to make way for gearing up for the great grey wave – and our walkers.
In a study released by the Conference Board of Canada Tuesday, researcher Carole Stonebridge cited the disconnect between the desire of most senior citizens to remain in their homes for as long as possible and the economic and practical realities.
“As the Canadian population ages, the demands on all parts of the sector will most certainly grow. The rise in chronic conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease will add to this pressure,” Stonebridge cautioned. “There are still too many uncertainties about the right amount and mix of public and private investment in the sector, the consequences for caregivers and the business community, and even whether we have the organizational and workforce capacity to meet future needs.”
Other experts have warned the swell of seniors will take a heavy toll on Canada’s health care system, accounting for 11.5 per cent of our gross domestic product as baby boomers become older and frailer.
Quebec now has one of the oldest populations in the country, with 15.9 per cent of residents age 65 and older. Côte St. Luc gets the prize for the oldest average population, with 28.3 per cent – more than one in four people – old enough to collect a pension. St. Lambert, Westmount, Hudson, Baie d’Urfé and Pointe Claire are among other Montreal-area communities where at least 20 per cent of residents are 65 or older.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Quebec has been enjoying a baby boom, largely as a result of a higher number of women aged 20-34, prime child-bearing years, and a slight up-turn in the fertility rate. For the first time in 50 years, Statistics Canada said the number of children under age 4 increased in all provinces and territories, with Quebec seeing the number of babies and toddlers climb by 17.5 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
Canada’s population is still younger on average than those of other countries which make up the G8, largely thanks to immigration. Census takers counted 68.2 per cent of Quebecers of working age, slightly less than the national rate of 68.5 per cent...........Hmmmmmm wasn't it just a few years back it was summer of '69 ---YIKES !