Canadians aged 55 and older include people in a wide range of situations, from wage earners who are still raising children to retirees in a variety of health, wealth and family situations. Because of this diversity, it can be almost impossible to draw widespread generalizations about this group.
To help housing developers better understand this increasingly important segment of the housing market and respond to the changing needs of older Canadians, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has developed an updated, multi-volume series titled Housing for Older Canadians: The Definitive Guide to the Over-55 Market.
The first volume in the series, Understanding the Market, offers a broad overview of the targeted housing market at both the national and provincial/territorial levels. It answers questions on topics such as the size of that market, and where Canadians in this age range live in Canada.
Canada’s population is aging at a rapid rate. Canadians aged 55 years and older make up about one-quarter of the population. By the year 2036, it is estimated that more than one-third of all Canadians will be over the age of 55, and almost one-quarter will be over 65.
The proportions of persons aged 55 and plus varies among the provinces and territories. For example, persons aged 55 and plus were less common in the territories, with Nunavut being lowest at about 10 per cent. The demographic profile of individual communities also varies widely; In Wood Buffalo, Alberta, persons 55 and plus accounted for about 10 per cent of the population, whereas in Parksville, British Columbia, they represented more than 50 per cent.
Many Canadians in this age range own their home, which is often their most important asset. However, as people approach, begin or live throughout retirement, their housing needs often change. Most Canadians this age either already live in urban areas, or will move to larger cities to be close to medical and social services and pedestrian-friendly forms of transportation. Some downsize, others move closer to recreation opportunities, while others prefer to remain in their current home for as long as they can. Baby boomers in particular, many of whom are approaching the traditional age of retirement, are less likely to live in the same city as their children.
Other volumes of the Guide cover such topics as market analysis, planning and designing seniors’ housing, and services and amenities to consider when developing housing geared to seniors.