Feeling old, Ottawa? Capital region younger than rest of country, but aging fast

Children still outnumber seniors in Ottawa-Gatineau as of the latest census, but that likely won't hold true four years from now.

Statistics Canada has released new data from last year's census, which showed for the first time on the national level people 65 and older outnumber children 14 and under.

Here in the National Capital Region, however, that isn't yet the case. In the Ottawa-Gatineau census metropolitan area — which includes Ottawa, Gatineau and surrounding municipalities like Cantley, Chelsea and Clarence-Rockland — there were 227,195 children 14 and younger and 156,880 seniors 65 and over.

Buoyed by growing suburbs like Barrhaven and Cumberland and a baby boom on the Gatineau side of the border, the region had the 11th highest percentage of children among census metropolitan areas.

Elsewhere in the region, however, the numbers are more stark. Petawawa was the only other major centre with more children than seniors.

In Hawkesbury, seniors made up 26.2 per cent of the population, nearly double the number of children 14 and under.

Could be more than 250K seniors by 2021

The long-term trend, however, is much the same as the rest of the country. Ottawa and Gatineau are getting older, and getting old fast.

While the population in Ottawa-Gatineau as a whole grew 5.5 per cent from 2011 to 2016 (from about 1.25 million to 1.32 million), the population of people 65 and older grew 26.7 per cent.

At that rate of growth, by 2021 there would be more than a quarter of a million seniors in Ottawa-Gatineau.