Over the next two decades, Ontario’s population is expected to grow substantially. However, experts warn that the infrastructure will not be adequate to support the ageing and growing population.
According to new estimates from Statistics Canada, the province’s population might grow to almost 19 million by 2043, an increase of about 30 per cent since 2021.
The above figure is based on a report released on Monday that predicts medium growth and includes several demographic projections for the coming decades. By 2043, the province’s population, estimated to be 14.8 million in 2021, may have surpassed 21.0 million.
However, experts say that Ontario is unprepared to manage this population growth. It lacks the housing and basic infrastructure to accommodate the expanding population, particularly in significant urban centres like Toronto.
The president and CEO of Royal LePage, Phil Soper, says, “it’s obvious: we’re not prepared.”
As households get smaller, people live longer, and immigration numbers climb, we can’t even handle the population growth we’ve experienced over the previous 20 years, let alone anticipated growth in the two decades, he explained.
According to Sheila Block, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Toronto’s future economic potential may be hampered by the city’s lack of affordable housing and population growth planning. She pointed out that residents and investors are concerned about livability and sustainability.
She raised the concern about affordable housing, saying, “If we don’t increase the supply of affordable housing, people will be living in substandard housing.” As a result, more people will be under-housed, she explained.
Further, she says the city already feels the effects of poor planning and a growing population.
She says we need to discuss a sustainable future with less climate change harm and greater equity. These are the things to consider, and affordable housing is a component.
However, Soper believes the federal and provincial governments will be forced to deal with the crisis and “aggressively” support the population growth.
According to Patrice Dion, a demographer with Statistics Canada, immigration will be a significant factor driving population increase in Ontario and Canada. For example, when Canada’s border partially reopened in 2021, the country welcomed more than 400,000 immigrants, accounting for 87.4% of the increase in population that year.
Although Soper and Block assert Ontario’s lack of preparedness for population growth, they also suggest immigration is necessary because it addresses another critical concern, the ageing population.
Block explains that immigration is necessary to increase the number of working-age Canadians as the natural growth rate continues to decline.
For example, countries with broken immigration systems like Italy or Japan, wherein it is difficult to become citizens, become very isolated with decreasing birth rates. As a result, they will face similar, but greater challenges than Canada, explained Soper.
By 2068, more than 25 per cent of the population will be 65 years of age or older, up from 18.5 per cent in 2021. Between 2021 and 2068, the number of Canadians over the age of 85 may triple, from 871,000 to 3.2 million.
As more people age, Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, head of financial security studies at the National Institute on Ageing, stated that Canada needs to consider how to care for its senior citizens.
She predicted we would start seeing many people needing care in the next ten years.
MacDonald expressed how the pandemic reflected the lack of care for seniors in Canada. While the numbers reflect that many will be asking for seniors’ care, she explained that the prospects of meeting that demand are not good.
Presented by CTC News