Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: No Wolf in Aging Report: Editorial Exchange: No Wolf in Aging Report

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: No Wolf in Aging Report: Editorial Exchange: No Wolf in Aging Report

Article excerpt

An editorial from the Red Deer Advocate, published May 31:

The demographic study of the last federal census should have been titled: On the Other Hand. ... There are so many countervailing factors in the study of Canada's aging population that pundits are having trouble deciding how to cry wolf.

Canada remains the youngest of the G8 countries, but the aging curve is steeper here than in the rest of the world. Is this good or bad news?

Our national birthrate has been well below replacement levels for decades, but has seen a "baby bump" in the past four years, and we are now only slightly below a stable population birthrate. Are we in, or out, of trouble in the years to come?

Strong economies attract people in their child-bearing years and encourage families to have children. Will Canada's relative economic strength translate into a more stable demographic position, meaning we will avoid the worst economic and social problems associated with having a high proportion of seniors, relative to youngsters?

It depends on which hand you're looking at.

In the West, it seems the future will look a lot like the present. Burgeoning job opportunities continue to attract young families, and we'll continue to need to build schools and recreation infrastructure as youngsters grow. Our soon-to-be-seniors will remain healthy and without physical disability far longer into retirement, but we appear set to maintain a tax base that will support infrastructure designed for three generations of users.

In the East, the future looks like the present -- only more so. When young people look at their career opportunities, many will be looking to leave. So boomers in Eastern Canada will still see their grandchildren -- when they come here to visit.

The Canadian demographic now entering retirement years is part of the wealthiest cohort the world has ever seen; older Canadians own a higher portion of the nation's wealth than Canada has ever known. Never in history has a generation retired so rich, so early -- and yet is acquiring debt at three times the national average. …

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