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Robust immigration contributes to the deceleration of Canada’s population aging

Canada’s population aging decelerated for the second consecutive year due to robust immigration, fueled by a recent surge in foreign students and temporary workers.

According to data from Statistics Canada released on Wednesday, the median age, a crucial metric for assessing a country’s age distribution, declined from 40.9 to 40.6 years over the one-year period ending on July 1, 2023. Similarly, the average age of the population decreased from 41.7 to 41.6 over the same period. This marks the first time in 65 years that both the median and average ages have dropped in the same year, attributed to the arrival of over 1 million immigrants, who typically skew younger. The last instance of such a decline occurred between 1957 and 1958, driven by the baby boomer generation.

While the age composition of a population typically changes gradually, Canada has experienced a significant impact from immigration over the past year, leading to a notable demographic shift, according to the statistics agency.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration has actively pursued an immigration strategy aimed at replenishing the labor force with working-age newcomers and mitigating the effects of declining fertility rates and retiring workers. Despite achieving record population gains, the surge in newcomers following the pandemic has sparked criticism over strains on housing, infrastructure, and public services.

Canada’s open immigration policy has resulted in a growing working-age population, with the proportion of individuals aged 15 to 64 rising to 65.7% from 65.5%, a notable development given the departure of baby boomers from this demographic as they reach 65 years old.

However, the country continues to grapple with population aging, a trend mirrored in many advanced economies. On July 1, 2023, the number of individuals aged 65 or older surpassed those under 18 for the first time in Canadian history, though the influx of newcomers in 2022 and 2023 has slowed this process.

Canada’s aging population is primarily driven by the baby boomer cohort, with the youngest members expected to turn 65 by 2030. Additionally, significant interprovincial migration occurred, with Alberta experiencing a net gain of over 56,000 migrants from other provinces, while Ontario and British Columbia witnessed net losses of 42,000 and 8,000 people, respectively, representing the largest numbers in decades.

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