Education rates, commute times and time at work all growing, census shows

Statistics Canada data shows more than half of Canada’s working population has degrees or diplomas

Canadians are putting in more effort in the classroom, additional time on the job and extra teeth-gnashing minutes on the road getting to and from work, Statistics Canada says in the latest — and last — batch of numbers from the 2016 census.

The data released Wednesday show more than half of Canada’s core working population — those aged 25 to 64 — have earned degrees or diplomas from a college or university, the highest rate among comparable OECD countries, a group that includes the United States.

When it comes to educational laurels, women appear to be closing the gap with men: they accounted for half of all master’s degrees in 2016, and nearly half of all earned doctorates among younger Canadians aged 25 to 34.

The wage gap, however, persists. In B.C., for instance, a male with an apprenticeship certificate enjoyed a median income of $75,344 – roughly $12,000 more than a female with a university degree.

“Even though women are more highly educated, they don’t earn more. Their workforce participation rate isn’t greater. So education is clearly not the whole story,” said Laura Wright, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan.

Seniors in the workforce

One-fifth of seniors over 65 remained in the workforce in 2016, twice the rate of 1996, while median income for full-time workers increased 30 per cent over the last decade. At the other end of the age spectrum, the employment rate for Canadians 15 to 24 dropped by almost six percentage points compared with 2006.

And another from the no-kidding file: getting to work isn’t getting any faster. The “journey to work” inched higher across Canada last year, even with more Canadians than ever opting to use public transit for their daily commute.

Wednesday’s release put the cherry on the statistical sundae Statistics Canada has been building since February, illustrating how life has evolved since 2011 for Canada’s 35.15 million people.

There are more people over 65 than under 15 in a historic grey shift; immigrants are driving population and workforce growth; there are more Indigenous Peoples than ever, and on average they’re younger than the rest of Canada; and young Canadians are living at home longer.

So where do we go from here?

The percentage of the population over 65 is expected to grow from 16.9 per cent to 23 per cent by 2031, while the proportion of children under age 15 flatlines and the ranks of the working-age population shrink.

Older Canadians are lingering longer in the workforce, some because they can, others because they must.

Wednesday’s numbers show a 31 per cent spike in the number of health workers since 2006 — a good thing, given the aging baby boomers, said Julien Picault, a senior economics instructor at University of British Columbia.

“It’s not a crucial point, I think, at this stage, but it’s crucial that we start actually adapting.”

Replacing retiring workers will depend on immigrants, who are driving population growth in the face of low fertility rates. The proportion of immigrants in the population could reach 30 per cent by 2036, up from the 21.9 per cent recorded in 2016.

Those coming to Canada are highly educated — they have rates of post-secondary education more than double their Canadian-born counterparts — and already comprise half or nearly half the labour force in major centres like Toronto and Vancouver.

Michael Haan, a sociology professor at Western University in London, Ont., said it’s high time Ottawa put a plan in place to steer new Canadians towards population-starved rural communities.

“You can’t have a national immigration policy that stands on its own, because what is going to happen is that future immigrant flows are likely to follow the pathways of previous immigrant flows,” Haan said.

As always, the census offers only a snapshot in time, and projections come with a caveat: public policy, the economy and changing social norms, among other factors, could always cause a course correction.

Shifting public and political attitudes towards immigration could impact population estimates, said Haan. North American trade talks could change the face of the labour market. And the advent of online retailing could bring seismic change for the 626,775 people working in retail sales last year, the most common occupation recorded by the census.

Governments could boost the value of child benefits to encourage families to get bigger. Fertility rates could go up if more dads take parental leave, relieving moms of some of the burden of balancing work and family, Wright said.

Whatever happens, it all begins and ends — much as the 2016 census did — with the transformative power of Canada’s aging baby boomers.

“Population aging is the crux of the change,” Wright said. “It drives a lot of other changes.”

Key figures from the 2016 census:

This most recent release of data marks the last in a year-long series of statistical snapshots of the Canadian condition, one that also heralded the return of data from the much-maligned long-form census for the first time in a decade.

35,151,728: Canadian population on census day 2016.

5: Percentage increase in the population between 2011 and 2016.

16.9: Proportion of the national population over age 65, a historic high.

41: Average age of the Canadian population.

7,974,370: Canadians whose mother tongue is neither English nor French. See more >

34.7: Percentage of people age 20 to 34 living with their parents, a historic high. See more >

$70,336: Median household income in 2015, the most recent year available. See more >

10.8: Percentage increase in median household income between 2005 and 2015.

4.8 million: Canadians, including children, living below the poverty line in 2015.

1.2 million: Number of children living in low-income households in 2015.

73,000: Number of same-sex couples in Canada. See more >

14.5: Percentage of Canadian seniors over age 65 living in low income in 2015.

97.8: Response rate from the long-form census, the highest Statistics Canada has ever recorded. See more >

22: Percentage of Canadians who are immigrants. See more >

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Contributed - City of West Kelowna)
City of West Kelowna to consider endorsing Smith Creek project

Smith Creek neighbourhood plan proposes 900+ housing development on 154 hectares

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
15 cases of COVID-19 tied to Kelowna Francophone school outbreak

Three other schools in Kelowna are also dealing with potential exposure events

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

City of Kelowna crews are cleaning city hall after it was vandalized overnight. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

Nicole Bell, one of the women missing from the Shuswap, has been missing since Sept. 2, 2017. (Photo contributed)
Mother implores people to not forget daughter missing in Shuswap

The birthday of Nicole Bell, one of four women missing in region, is fast approaching

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

An elderly woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past an advertisement for a television series in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency for more than half the year

Province has been under a state of emergency for 32 weeks – and counting

Most Read