For the first time in Canada, there are more seniors than children, according to Statistics Canada.

The national statistics agency released its latest annual demographic estimates on Tuesday.

On July 1, 2015, preliminary estimates showed that for the first time Canada has more people 65 years and older than children between the ages of zero to 14, Statistics Canada said.

On July 1 of this year, Canada's population was estimated at 35.9 million, up 308,100 in the past year. About 5.8 million Canadians, or about 16.1 per cent, were at least 65 years old on July 1 of this year, StatsCan said.

The agency also explained that Canada has one of the lowest proportions of people aged 65 and older among G7 nations.

Demographer David Foot said the latest figures point to the beginning of a trend that is likely to continue for at least a decade. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Foot said that the aging population will have the greatest impact on Canada’s health care system. But he noted that the effects won't be felt for some time.

"They're still fairly young seniors. They're in their late 60s," Foot said of the baby boomers born between 1946 and 1965. "Many of them are still working and paying taxes."

Canada's population annual growth rate was +0.9 per cent in the past year, down slightly from 2013-2014 when it was +1.1 per cent. This past year's annual growth rate is the weakest growth rate observed since 1998-1999 (+0.8 per cent).

The latest population figures also include:

  • On July 1, 2015, New Brunswick had the largest proportion of seniors aged 65 and older (19 per cent), while Nunavut had the lowest proportion (3.7 per cent).
  • On July 1, 2015, the population of centenarians in Canada was estimated to be 8,100, or about 22 centenarians per 100,000 people. Most of the centenarians were women (88.4 per cent).
  • In the past year, net international migration was responsible for 60.8 per cent of population growth in Canada.
  • Net international migration was estimated at 187,400 people, down 27.7 per cent from the previous year, and at its lowest level in absolute numbers since 2002-2003.
  • Population growth in the last year was negative in Newfoundland and Labrador (-0.2 per cent) and New Brunswick (-0.1 per cent), and strongest in Nunavut (+2.3 per cent) and Alberta (+1.8 per cent).
  • Alberta posted the strongest slowdown of population growth this year compared to 2013-2014, falling from +2.8 per cent to +1.8 per cent. Alberta also recorded a large decrease of net international migration, falling from +1.1 per cent in 2013-2014 to +0.3 per cent in 2014-2015.

StatsCan said in a notice that the estimates are not to be mistaken with the 2011 Census counts. 

“Estimates released in this publication are based on the 2011 Census counts adjusted for census net undercoverage and incompletely enumerated Indian reserves to which is added the estimated demographic growth for the period going from May 10, 2011 to the date of the estimate,” the notice said.

StatsCan cautioned that the analysis is based on preliminary data, and that the data will be revised over the coming years.

“It is possible that some trends described in this publication will change as a result of these revisions. Therefore, this publication should be interpreted with caution,” StatsCan said.

With files from The Canadian Press