Commutes, education and jobs: Statistics Canada to release last of census info - InfoNews

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Commutes, education and jobs: Statistics Canada to release last of census info

Traffic crosses over the Lions Gate Bridge from North Vancouver into Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday July 2, 2015. Just how long a commute takes will be part of the latest tranche of census data Statistics Canada will release Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
November 27, 2017 - 2:27 PM

OTTAWA - Larry Frank knows from experience that commute times in Canada are stuck in the slow lane. And given the country's shifting demographics, Frank — a professor of sustainable transport at the University of British Columbia — doesn't think they'll get better any time soon.

The time it takes a typical Canadian to get to work will be part of the latest — and last — tranche of 2016 census data, to be released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

This final batch of numbers is expected to showcase an increasing percentage of women in graduate studies, more seniors working longer and more people moving farther away for work — just some of the flourishes that will put the finishing touches on the agency's statistical portrait of Canada's 35.15 million residents.

So far, the census has shed light on population counts and growth rates, as well as an aging population, an increasing number of immigrants, the growing, younger ranks of Indigenous Peoples and the changing dynamics of the Canadian family.

Wednesday's census release will link to those previously revealed demographic shifts, beginning with the rapidly growing ranks of seniors.

Workers over age 55 are expected to grow by almost 20 per cent between 2011 and 2016 compared to a one per cent growth for those aged 25 to 64. The participation rate for workers over age 65 — the traditional retirement age — is also likely to go up, potentially doubling over a 15-year period, says Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics.

About half of those workers over 65 are working part-time, a percentage that declines as people hit their 70s, Norris said.

"There are a lot of who 'retire' from one job, and then they do consulting work, they may work for the firm again for the part-time basis, work through the summer but go away during the winter," Norris said.

"So (there are) all kinds of more complex patterns of work happening, going along with the delays in retirement."

Overall, the number of immigrants in the working population grew by about one-fifth from 2011, compared to a small drop for Canadian-born workers, said Norris, who spent three decades at Statistics Canada.

Highly educated immigrants may be the driving force behind what's expected to be a modest increase in post-secondary degrees and diplomas in Canada for those between the ages of 25 and 64.

Canada welcomes more international students annually than new permanent residents, many of whom governments hope to keep in the country after graduation, driving education rates even higher, says Michael Haan, an associate professor in the school of sociology at Western University in London, Ont.

More Canadians staying in school can also be linked to census data from August that showed more young people are staying at home longer, couples without children are growing at a faster rate than their procreating counterparts, and fewer Canadians are choosing to get married.

"Increasingly, getting established in a career, graduating from school and transitioning to work is a prerequisite before you get married and that wasn't always the case," says Laura Wright, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

"People, if they feel they haven't achieved all the other markers of adulthood, they would rather co-habit than marry ... and you're going to delay fertility, too, until you have that all set up and then that's population aging."

Which brings us back to commutes.

Frank, director of the Health and Community Design Lab at UBC, sees how an aging population can affect commute times — seniors working longer are going to stay on the roads longer. He also links commute times to an increase in the suburban population.

Back in February, the census illustrated how growth in the suburbs is being fuelled by rising home prices in major urban centres, which drive people to the outskirts, where they can afford larger, more comfortable homes — as long as they're willing to put up with a longer trip to work.

"Transportation and housing are basically the twins separated at birth," he said.

"As transportation costs go down, housing prices go up. If you want to live in the central locations, you're going to pay more for housing, but your transportation costs and your travel time is going to be much more convenient."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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