Census 2001 Highlights: Factsheet 2: Age and Gender Profiles of Ontario

Median Age Rising

  • According to the 2001 Census, the median age of Ontario's population reached 37.2 years, an increase of 2 years from 35.2 in the 1996 Census. The decline in the number of births that occurred since 1993 is a major factor in the increase in median age.

  • Ontario's median age is lower than that of the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Canada (37.6 yrs.), but higher than that of the Western provinces except British Columbia.

  • The increase in the median age is one of many indicators that Ontario's population is aging.

  • Median age is the point at which exactly one-half of the population is older and the other half is younger.
Bar chart showing the median age in 2001 for Canada and the Provinces

Women Outnumber Men

  • In Ontario, in 2001, there were 95.6 men for every 100 women overall, little changed from the 1996 Census.

  • Although men in the 65+ group increased faster than women of this age, women continued to substantially outnumber men in older age groups.

  • The male:female ratio in older age groups increased between 1996 and 2001. However, there are still only 75 men per 100 women in the 65+ group, and 43.2 men per 100 women in the 85+ group.

  • The Census enumerated 1,380 people aged 100 and over in 2001 compared with 1,135 in 1996, a 21.6% increase. Among these individuals, 1,110 were women and 270 were men.

Bar chart showing population growth rate by age in Ontario comparing 1996 and 2001

The Oldest Age Groups Grew Fastest

  • The oldest age group (75+) increased at the fastest pace. From 1996 to 2001, their number increased 21 per cent from 541,000 to 654,000.

  • Seniors 65+ accounted for 13 per cent of Ontario's population, up from 12.4 per cent in 1996. The proportion of people aged 65+ will start to increase more rapidly beginning in 2011 when the oldest of the baby boomers start to reach 65.

  • Adults aged 45-54, the older half of the baby boom generation, increased by 20% between 1996 and 2001, the second highest rate after the 75+ group.

  • Children 0-14 had an overall growth rate of 0.8% with the number of youngest children (0-4 yrs.) declining between 1996 and 2001.
Bar chart showing the number of men per 100 women in Ontario in 1996 and 2001

Fewer Children Aged 0-4

  • Between 1996 and 2001, the number of Ontario children aged 0-4 declined 8.6 per cent to 671,300, due to declining births in Ontario. Children aged 5-14 increased 5.5 per cent to 1.6 million in the same period.

  • In 2001, children aged 0-14 accounted for 19.6 per cent of the population, down from 20.6 per cent in 1996.
Two pie charts showing the breakdown of children aged 0-14 years in Ontario in 1996 and 2001. The ranges used are 0 to 4, 5 to 9, and 10 to 14.

The Working Age Population Grew Older

  • Ontario's core working age population aged 15-64 represented more than two-thirds of the total population in 2001, unchanged from the previous Census. Baby boomers (aged 35-54 in 2001) accounted for 47 per cent of the working age population, compared to 49 per cent in 1996.

  • Between 1996 and 2001, the oldest age groups of the working age population (people aged 45-64) increased fastest at 17 per cent. In 2001, they represented 35 per cent of the working age population, compared to 32 per cent in the 1996 Census.

  • Fewer young people entered the working age population to replace individuals in the age group nearing retirement. In 2001, for every person aged 55-64, there were 1.4 individuals in the group aged 15-24, down from 1.5 individuals in the 1996 Census.
Bar chart showing the working age population in Ontario for 1996 and 2001 by age groupings.

Ontario's CMAs and Cities

  • Four of Ontario's Census Metropolitan Areas (Kingston, Greater Sudbury, Thunder Bay and St. Catharines-Niagara) were among the top ten “oldest” in Canada.

  • St. Catharines-Niagara was the oldest Ontario CMA in 2001 (the third oldest in all of Canada's CMAs) with a median age of 40.2 years, an increase of 2.6 from the 1996 Census.

  • Kitchener was the youngest Ontario CMA with a median age of 35.3 years in 2001, up 1.8 from the 1996 Census. Four of Ontario's CMAs (Kitchener, Oshawa, Windsor and Toronto) were among the top ten youngest of Canada's CMAs.

  • Ontario's youngest municipality with a population of 5,000+ was Wellesley in the Waterloo Census Division, with a median age of 28.7 years; the oldest was Elliot Lake (Algoma Census Division) with a median age of 49.4 years in 2001.
Bar chart showing the ten oldest CMA's 
                   in Canada in 2001 and the median age increase in years.
February 5, 2003

Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch

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