As stated in the abstract, the problem of an aging population is that there is the presence of an imbalance of those that support the system and those that are supporting the system. In the case of the Canadian population, there is an imbalance in the number that are being supported by the pension system outstripping those that are supporting it. The breakdown of the Canadian at one time could have been aptly described as a pyramid, with the base of a considerable amount of people in the working class buttressing the peak of old-age retirees (Kauppa Poliitika, 2006).
But current trends have reversed the trend, as people enjoy longer life spans, bearing lesser numbers of children, and early retirement, the pyramid has been turned upside down (Poliitika, 2006). At this time, the peak of retirees is ballooning while the number of working age individuals is shrinking at the bottom (Poliitika, 2006). The morphing of the population of Canada is one that is expected to gain speed in the coming years (Poliitika, 2006). It is expected that by the year 2025, the number of individuals over 65 will comprise more than a fifth of the Canadian population (Poliitika, 2006).
The sundries that authorities must deal with this issue are ones that has already gained the concept of public agenda cliche (EKOS Research Associates, 2007). It is a general notion that the number of senior Canadians will be populating a more significant part of the population than they already do, and this will lead to more issues in areas such as health care and housing (EKOS, 2007).
The number of Canadians expected to reach the age of 65 and beyond is expected to jump from 3. 9 million in 2000 to about double that number, to 7.8 million in 2026 (Carly Weeks, 2006). The age group of citizens reaching the age of 80 will comprise the fastest growth rate of senior citizens, expected to double in the coming years (Weeks, 2006). At current levels, there is one senior citizen being supported by five working class persons (Poliitika, 2006). But the trend has slowly been shrinking to about three working persons for every senior citizen (Poliitika, 2006). That factor will further be aggravated by the fact that Canadians are leaving the work force earlier (Poliitika, 2006).
In 1976, retirement ages for Canadian workers averaged about 64. 9 years (Poliitika, 2006). But by 2005, this dropped to about 61. 4 (Poliitika, 2006). The Effects of an Aging Population The impact of the aging populace will not be restricted to the burden of the workforce in supporting the bulging numbers of senior Canadians. The issue will have a large impact on Canada's economic growth and labor force in the areas of productivity, ability to compete globally, immigration policies and basic social services, among others (EKOS, 2007).
Also, the increasing number of retiring Canadians as per the number of working individuals will put in jeopardy the viability of the public pension system, as well as private retirement programs (Poliitika, 2006). It will also result in the reduction of labor growth rates (Poliitika, 2006). Canada has taken cognizance of the extent of the problem of this demographic problem. It has even rated it as one of the greatest conflicts currently gripping the nation (Poliitika, 2006). And this trend is not limited to Canada alone, but many nations in the developed world face the same crisis (Poliitika, 2006).
Save for high birth rates, the United States seems to be the exception to the trend (Poliitika, 2006). But how important is the birth rate factor in demographics? Let's put the issue in the context of Canada's growth in some of its provinces. The population of the country in 1999 rose by 254, 000, a growth rate by 8. 4 per 1,000 individuals (Statistics Canada, 2000). The same year, Alberta had the highest demographic change of about 13. 7, followed by Ontario with 12. 4 (Statistics, 2000).
Comparing these numbers with Canadian life expectancy numbers, the country's senior citizens can expect to live over the age of 60, due to the reduced instances of death resulting from circulatory illnesses (Statistics, 2000). For example, in the province of Newfoundland, the area registered the lowest demographic rating of just 0. 5 among the Canadian provinces, far below the national average of about 3. 6 per 1,000 (Statistics, 2000). This would be attributable to the low fertility statistics of women in the area, averaging 1. 21 by 1998 rates (Statistics, 2000).
To address the situation, there have been thrusts in the areas of increasing the number of women giving birth, immigration and advocating longer stays of employment for Canadian workers (Poliitika, 2006). But the first two of the initiatives might meet with limited or no success at tall (Poliitika, 2006). The move to endorse and push for a greater birth rate among women may in some degree arrest the trend, but in the light of the policies of Western initiatives of promoting higher birth rates, the abject lesson is that the programs proved too expensive and ineffective (Poliitika, 2006).
In order for Canada to be competitive in the global agora, the country nmust be able to develop its main resource, that of its human resource (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, 2006). The contributions of Canadian universities in this regard have been invaluable (AUCC, 2006). Research in the areas of health and cures to extend the life expectancy of Canadians have been contributory to the current trend of long lives of its citizens (AUCC, 2006).
For example, Canadian universities have been at the forefront to better confront instances of pandemics and other outbreaks of diseases (AUCC, 2006). But if these cases celebrate the discoveries of prolonging the life expectancy of Canadians, then why is it a challenge for the authorities? There are two sides of the issue must be addressed in this regard. Growing older: What to do? Canada can learn from the lessons and experiences of other countries who exhibit higher growth rates (Poliitika, 2006). The country can begin to learn and adapt to the issues happening in these countries (Poliitika, 2006).
But what is a negative for Canada is that the country doesn't enjoy the luxury of time on its side (Poliitika, 2006). It is estimated that in 10 years, the effects of this phenomenon will begin to undermine Canada's economy and society (Poliitika, 2006). The main issue is to get Canadian workers to stay at their jobs longer (Poliitika, 2006). It is not saying that the government will push for Canadians to stay at their jobs by force (Poliitika, 2006). Rather, the government must significantly cut back on public spending programs that encourage early retirement (Poliitika, 2006).
Other initiative that can be adapted is for companies to hire and retain on their payrolls older aged workers, and to break down hindrances for those workers who wish to remain a part of the labor force beyond the age of 65 (Poliitika, 2006). The thrust of getting more workers to stay longer at their jobs may offset the low birth rate that the nation is experiencing right now. At peak levels, the average birth rate during the so-called “baby boom” era reached four children per woman. In 2003, that statistic plummeted to about 1. 5 children per woman (Poliitika, 2006).
That means the nation's birth rate is off by 40 percent of the level needed to stave off the demographic crisis expected to hit by 2031 (Weeks, 2006). At that time, one out of four Canadians will be a senior citizen (Weeks, 2006). Several recommendations have been put on the table to try and reverse the issue, but it is also irreversible, as some analysts claim (Weeks, 2006). One item is for the reduction of income taxes so that Canadians can save up and continue to work in the country. Others even advocate the revision of the Canadian Human Rights Act to make it illegal to force anyone out of work (Weeks, 2006).
This means, as in the case of some European countries, is the removal of hindrances and restraints to hire older workers and to motivate companies to hire them (Poliitika, 2006). For all that has been said, one thing is apparent to Canadian policy makers. The time to act on this issue is now (Poliitika, 2006). As stated earlier, the luxury of time to learn and experiment is not on the side of the Canadians (Poliitika, 2006). There is a crisis to face, and to be able to face it, the time to prepare for its arrival is now (Poliitika, 2006).