Canada counted for the first time more seniors than children due to longer life expectancies and persistently low fertility rates, according to census data released Wednesday.
The number of seniors jumped 20 percent in the last five years while the number of children rose by only 4.1 percent, according to Statistics Canada -- a demographic trend that a number of developed countries are facing.
"As a result of the rapid increase in the number of people 65 years of age and older since 2011, 2016 marked the first time that the census enumerated more seniors (5.9 million) than children 14 years of age and younger (5.8 million)," the government statistical agency said.
The increase in the number of elderly Canadians during the period was the "largest observed since 1871 -- a clear sign that Canada's population is aging at a faster pace," it said.
Seniors accounted for 16.9 percent of Canada's 35 million people, while the share of children was 16.6 percent.
The 2016 census enumerated 23.4 million people aged 15 to 64, or 66.5 percent of the total population, down from 68.5 percent in 2011.
Centenarians were the fastest-growing group, up 41.3 percent from 2011 to 2016, to 8,230.
Despite the recent spike in seniors, Canada continues to have the lowest proportion of seniors of any other G7 country except the United States.
If the current trend continues, however, the proportion of seniors in Canada could eventually equal the level now seen in Japan, where one in four is over the age of 65.