Hamil­ton greyer than some cities in Canada

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MARK MCNEIL The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor

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

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