Understanding the changing relationship between working-age Canadians and seniors – Lake Superior News

and its consequences

DRYDEN, THUNDER BAY, SAULT STE MARIE, ONTARIO ~~~~~ May 28, 2022 (LSNews) As Canada’s population ages, the number of working-age Canadians relative to the number of seniors has declined from 5.4 in 2000 to 3.4 in 2022, meaning that government spending on Demographics are rising as tax revenue growth declines, finds a new study from the Fraser Institute, an independent, nonpartisan Canadian public policy think tank.


“Workers pay the bulk of taxes, which governments need to fund important services, including health care and income transfers to the elderly. As the relative number of older people increases and the relative number of workers declines, Canada’s public finances will be strained,” said Ben Eisen, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Understanding the Changing Ratio. of Working- Aging Canadians to the Elderly and Its Consequences.

The study finds that the share of Canada’s population aged 65 or older has increased from 14.1% in 2010 to 19.0% in 2022. Statistics Canada projects this number will increase to 25.0% by 2059 .

At the same time, the share of the working-age population (aged 15-64) is falling, so the ratio of workers to older people is also falling. For example, in 1970, the ratio of workers to old people was 7.8, which means that there were almost 8 workers for every old person. This year, that ratio has fallen to just 3.4 workers for every senior. By 2050, the ratio is expected to decline further to just 2.5 workers for every senior in Canada.

Above all, as the number of seniors increases, more people will receive income transfers such as Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Similarly, the average annual health care costs per person for those aged 65 to 74 are $7,751, compared to just $2,811 for those aged 35 to 44. This means that government spending will increase significantly as the number of seniors increases.

And conversely, there will be fewer workers relative to the number of older people, while workers pay the bulk of government taxes.

“This reduction in the worker-to-elderly ratio in Canada, which is already underway, is an important headwind for policymakers in their efforts to improve the sustainability of public finances in Canada,” Eisen said.


  • This bulletin presents the most recent data and projections on Canada’s aging population. He is particularly interested in the evolution of the relationship between people of working age and seniors over 65.
  • The rate of population growth in Canada slowed considerably in the second half of the 20th century and has remained historically low ever since.
  • The share of Canada’s population aged 65 and over has increased from 14.1% in 2010 to 19.0% in 2022. Statistics Canada data predicts that number will rise to 25% by mid-century.
  • The share of the Canadian population of working age is decreasing, while the share of people aged 65 or older is increasing. To help shed light on the economic and public finance challenges this trend creates, we review historical data and projections that examine the number of people aged 15 to 64 for each person aged 65 or older.
  • In 1966, there were 7.7 people of working age for every senior. This ratio has fallen rapidly since then and stands at 3.4 in 2022. Statistics Canada predicts that this trend will continue in the decades to come. There will be only 3.0 people of working age for every elderly person by 2027, after which the ratio will slowly decline to 2.3 by 2068.
  • The declining ratio of working-age Canadians to seniors will put pressure on public finances in years to come, as there will be fewer taxpayers working to help fund cash transfers to seniors and the increase in health care costs that will result from an aging population.


Ben Eisen
Principal Investigator, Fraser Institute

Joel Emes
Senior Economist, Fraser Institute

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The Fraser Institute is an independent, non-partisan research and education organization based in Canada. We have offices in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Visit our website

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