New census data shows Medicine Hat’s population is aging at greater rates than other urban centres in the province.
Statistics Canada released the 2021 Census of Population profile for Medicine Hat on Wednesday, which shows the median age of city residents is 43.2, compared to median ages of 37.2 in Lethbridge, 38 in Calgary, 38.8 in Red Deer, 36.8 in Edmonton, 34 in Grande Prairie and 38.4 provincially. The 2021 number is a slight increase from Medicine Hat’s 2016 median age of 40.5.
While data shows one in five Hatters are above the age of 65, community figures say the numbers aren’t worrying. Veiner Centre director Cori Fischer believes Medicine Hat has the resources necessary to meet the needs of an aging population, so long as the community is involved in resource allocation moving forward.
Community spaces and programming designed specifically for and by seniors will play an important role, Fischer told the News, as it will keep aging populations engaged and active. As time passes, Fischer hopes discussions about such topics will become commonplace in Medicine Hat.
Medicine Hat is not the only community which will have to engage in such discussions though. Across the country, these discussions are rising to the forefront as the Baby Boomers grow older.
As of July 2021, Canada’s median age was slightly above the 40 threshold, at 40.8. Of the nation’s 36.5 million residents, approximately 6.7 million are above the age of 65.
Not only did census data shed light on age, it also provided insight into the region’s population, which is showing a 0.2 per cent decline since last recorded in 2016. Medicine Hat’s census area, which includes nearby towns and county, is 76,376 in 2021, down from 76,522.
The News reported in February the city proper’s population to be 63,271, an increase of just 11 people over five years.
According to the federal data, Redcliff’s population is down 0.3 per cent, sitting at a population of 5,581. Cypress County’s population shrunk by 1.8 per cent, bringing its total down to 7,524. The County of Forty Mile suffered the greatest population loss in the region with a decrease of 3.1 per cent, bringing the total population down to 3,471.
Meanwhile, Lethbridge, Taber and Taber Municipal District all saw increases. Lethbridge’s population grew by 5.5 per cent from 117,394 in 2016 to 123,847 in 2021; Taber saw an increase of 5.1 per cent, resulting in a total population of 8,862; and Taber Municipal District saw an increase of 4.9 per cent, bringing the total population up to 7,447.
KENDALL KI, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News