Rick Mercer’s Talking to Americans special once asked our neighbours to the south to condemn our government’s practice of setting our seniors adrift on ice flows.
A glance around any Canadian community would confirm we don’t do that. If we did, we wouldn’t have hit this year’s tipping point: there are now more Canadians over 65 than under 15, for the first time ever.
This will no doubt spark some concerned articles about our aging population, and even the possibility of “demographic collapse,” as though we were facing a childless wasteland of a future.
We suggest that Canadian seniors will actually do pretty well in the coming years. There will be challenges, of course, but our country is wealthy, and no only do people generally want the best for their parents and grandparents, seniors are perfectly able to look after themselves. They’re a desirable demographic, much courted by politicians, thanks to the fact that they actually vote.
No, if we’re seeing more seniors and fewer children, we might want to be careful in the coming years not to neglect the next generation.
With a larger population retired and a smaller one replacing them in the workforce, we need to make sure that the children out there now are ready for the world they’ll inherit.
It’s impossible to know with certainty what we’ll face in the future, but the next generations will certainly face challenges. They’ll be replacing many hands with few hands, as the number of children per family shrinks. They’ll have to be trained to work smart, not just hard. It’s going to be creativity, flexibility, and skill that wins out in the future.
If we can’t make sure that the next generations are able to take their place in a globalized and often ruthless world economy, then who will take care of the growing ranks of seniors? Someone’s got to do it, and it will fall to those currently in elementary school.