Hamilton greyer than some cities in Canada
Canada’s population is aging and Hamilton is aging even faster.
Results from the 2016 census released Wednesday show 17.9 per cent of local respondents were 65 years of age or older in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan area, which includes Burlington and Grimsby. (Hamilton alone has 17.3 per cent of its population being senior citizens.) That compares with the national average of 16.9 per cent.
Toronto was much lower than Hamilton with 14.5 per cent. Ottawa was 15.4. Peterborough had the highest percentage of seniors in Ontario with 22.2 per cent and Trois Riviers was highest in Canada with 22.3 per cent.
When it comes to people at the other end of the scale — zero to 14 years of age — the Hamilton CMA with 16.4 per cent was slightly less than the national average of 16.6 per cent. Hamilton alone was 16.2 per cent.
“It’s the first time in Hamilton, Ontario and Canada that seniors outnumbered children,” says Statistics Canada senior analyst Julien Berard-Chagnon.
The aging population has major implications for governments with increasing needs for health care, fewer people in the workforce, housing, public transportation and consumption, he says.
“It raises significant issues,” says Berard-Chagnon. “One of the reasons the population is aging is because we are living longer. And we should keep in mind that seniors can do volunteer work, help their children raise their children, so there are many positive aspects to this.”
A spokesperson from the City of Hamilton was not available to discuss the issue.
But an emailed statement from John Ariyo, manager of community initiatives, said: “The City of Hamilton implemented an Age-Friendly strategy in 2014, we look forward to reviewing the 2016 Census information and how it can inform the work we are doing to ensure that Hamilton is the best place to raise a child and age successfully.”
Malcolm Buchanan, the president of the Hamilton, Burlington and Oakville Chapter of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, gives the city high marks for recognizing seniors’ needs “Hamilton is one of the few in Ontario that is moving toward becoming an agefriendly city. We have to give them credit for that.”
Deirdre Pike, senior social planner with the Social Planning and Research Council, says affordable housing is the major issue for seniors.
“Hamilton has a good plan in place. What it needs to do is look at these new numbers and see what kind of actions they can put in place to ensure that top goal of housing is a possibility to meet.”
Wednesday’s census findings comes after a February release that found Hamilton’s population growth rate of 3.7 per cent from 2011 to 2016 was the lowest of any of Canada’s major cities.
The Canadian average was 5.0 per cent.
That news was a bit surprising because of other indicators showing a huge influx of people from the Greater Toronto Area moving to Hamilton.
One recent report from a major realtor found that buyers from the GTA were responsible for about a quarter of the house sales in Hamilton.
Hamilton has a good plan in place. DEIRDRE PIKE SENIOR SOCIAL PLANNER WITH THE SPRC