Multiculturalism and Intergroup Relations

By James S. Frideres | Go to book overview

6.
ETHNIC RELATIONS IN AN AGING MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY

K. Victor Ujimoto

There are two important characteristics to observe in the rapidly changing demographic profile of Canadian society. First, recent Census of Canada data confirm the fact that we are indeed a nation of people rapidly growing old. The 1982 census indicates that there were over 2.4 million people in the age category sixty-five and over. Demographers have been able to document the changes that indicate that the proportion of our elderly population has been increasing over the years. According to Statistics Canada ( 1979: 2), only 5 percent of the total Canadian population was over sixty-five years of age in 1901, but by 1981, this proportion had increased to nearly 10 percent. This trend, which is shown in table 6.1, is expected to continue; by the year 2001 the proportion of our elderly will be "between 11% and 13%" of the total Canadian population. This means that in terms of numbers, at least, the elderly are becoming a more significant group today than ever before.

The second important factor to recognize is that in a multicultural society such as ours in Canada the aged population is not a homogeneous one and that ethnic differences must also be taken into account when considering solutions designed to alleviate some of the problems faced by our elderly. As shown by Benjamin Teitelbaum, visible minorities in Canada account for some 1.1 million of the total Canadian population ( 1984: 6). However, in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, these minorities account for approximately

-73-

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