CORNER BROOK — While senior citizens make up a larger chunk of Corner Brook’s population now than they did the last time a census was done, Mayor Neville Greeley says at least the city isn’t going grey as fast as many other communities in the province.
Greeley was reacting to the latest census numbers released by Statistics Canada, which shows residents aged 65 and older now make up 19.2 per cent of Corner Brook’s population.
That is up from 17.5 when the last previous census was done in 2006.
The city’s numbers compare to a national average of 14.8 and a provincial average of 16 per cent.
“The important thing to note is the growth rate between the last census and this census for the senior population in Corner Brook is considerably less than other major municipalities throughout the province,” said Greeley.
According to the latest census, the population of seniors in Corner Brook has grown by 8.5 per cent. Mount Pearl has seen a 26.5 per cent hike in the number of seniors, while Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Stephenville have all jumped by between 14.5 and 19.4 per cent.
Greeley said it’s hard to rationalize why the numbers are the way they are, although the closures of paper mills in Grand Falls-Windsor and Stephenville have likely put a big dent in their youthful demographic.
All Corner Brook can do, he added, is to maintain a focus on growing an economy that will attract, business, post-secondary students and young families.
“We have certainly not seen any negative growth in our economy,” said Greeley. “It’s not growing at the rate of St. John’s, Paradise or CBS, but we don’t have the benefits of the employment availability from offshore oil here either and all the industries that are growing out there to support that.”
The data released Tuesday comes from census forms filled out May 10, 2011 — a moment in time when the first of the baby boom generation was turning 65.
Despite the growing number of seniors in Canada, the country remains one of the youngest in the industrialized world. Among G8 countries, only the United States and Russia have a lower percentage of citizens aged 65 and over.
Still, an aging population presents challenges — especially because Canadians are not having as many children as previous generations. By the time the next census is taken in 2016, Statistics Canada projects the country will be home to as many senior citizens as children. That will present governments with difficult choices such as how much funding should be allocated for health care versus education.
The number of children in Corner Brook — those aged 14 and under — has decreased since the last census.
The new data shows that children make up 13.9 per cent of the population. Across Canada, children represent 16.8 per cent of the population and the provincial average is 14.9 per cent.
Those in the working-age population in Corner Brook — people aged 15-64 — represent 66.9 per cent of the city’s residents. That’s down from the 2006 census when 67.8 per cent of the population was made up of working-age residents.
The median age of Corner Brook was 45.8 years, compared with 43.6 years in 2006.
Nationally, the median age in 2011 was 40.6 years and the provincial median age was 44 years.
Statistics Canada defines median age as the point where exactly one half of the population is older than the median age and the other half is younger.
The national census is conducted every five years. The information published Tuesday is the second of several releases of data to come from Statistics Canada over the next year and longer that will eventually paint a detailed picture of the country, right down to the local level — including age breakdowns of the population, family makeup, languages spoken, immigration and ethnic origin, the level of education attained and income earned.
Here is a local breakdown of census population information for communities in the Corner Brook region:
2011 - %pop - 2006 - %change
Median Age 45.8 43.6(2006)
Female 10,520 52.9 10,605 -0.8
Male 9,370 47.1 9,480 -1.2
Children 2,760 13.9 2,950 -6.4
Working Age 13,310 66.9 13,615 -2.2
Seniors 3,815 19.2 3,515 8.5
Median Age 45.5 43.8(2006)
Female 1,715 51.2 1,605 6.9
Male 1,635 48.8 1,575 3.8
Children 515 15.4 480 7.3
Working Age 2,330 69.6 2,345 -0.6
Seniors 505 15.1 360 40.3
Median Age 46.3 42.6(2006)
Female 3,595 53.5 3,435 4.7
Male 3,125 46.5 3,150 -0.8
Children 960 14.3 1,080 -11.1
Working Age 4,530 67.5 4,480 1.1
Seniors 1,230 18.3 1,030 19.4
Source: The Canadian Press