Where's Toronto's aging population living? Nearly everywhere in the city, new report finds

In eight of this city's neighbourhoods, one in four people you’ll meet is a senior.

Just 6 of the city's neighbourhoods have seen the number of senior residents dip in the last decade

Seniors now make up 15 per cent of Toronto's population, according to the latest census. A report from Social Planning Toronto breaks that down further, mapping where those seniors live. (J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press )

In eight of this city's neighbourhoods, one in four people you'll meet is a senior.

The non-profit organization Social Planning Toronto is using 2016 census data to get a clear picture of how many seniors are here — and where they're choosing to live — for a new report set to be released Tuesday morning.

The results show the city has to act fast if it's going to be able to handle its rapidly aging population, the community organization's executive director Sean Meagher says.

"We need to get out ahead of that silver tsunami if we're going to serve those seniors well," he told CBC Toronto.

"They need to prepare for much more focused action than they're engaged in today," he said.

Seniors make up 15% of Toronto's population

The group is calling on city council to increase the affordable recreation programs it offers to seniors, particularly in the areas where the demand is greatest, as well as develop and fund a long-term care and seniors services strategy.

Here are some of the report's findings:

  • As of 2016, 426,945 seniors call Toronto home. That's roughly 15 per cent of the city's population.
  • That total represents a 13.1 per cent increase from 2011, and a 33.5 per cent jump from 1996.
  • Those aged 85 and older made up 15.5 per cent of Toronto's senior population.
  • Hamilton is the only city in the Golden Horseshoe with a higher percentage of seniors than Toronto.

The results may not be surprising — the data matches what's happening across Canada — but they do provide a detailed picture of where seniors are living. Turns out, they're nearly everywhere.

The report found 110 of Toronto's 140 neighbourhoods have seen their seniors populations climb by more than 10 per cent over the last decade.

Even though Toronto's increasingly vertical waterfront communities have largely been home to younger people, including a large chunk of the city's workforce, seniors aren't exactly being pushed out. The report found the area's population shot up by some 154 per cent in that time — while the senior population also climbed, but by 103 per cent.

Only six neighbourhoods, including Greenwood-Coxwell and Trinity Bellwoods, have fewer seniors living there now than in the past.

On the other hand, there are neighbourhoods like Humber Heights-Westmount (Etobicoke), Bayview Woods-Steeles (North York), Casa Loma (Downtown) and Guildwood (Scarborough) where more than a quarter of their residents are seniors.

Seniors' advocate on council worries about street safety

Coun. Josh Matlow says he supports boosting seniors' services in these neighbourhoods, particularly around the issue of pedestrian safety.

"I don't believe that the city has gone as far as it should to ensure that areas where we know seniors live have roads as safe as they should be," he said.

Seniors are some of the most likely to be killed in road collisions, something the city's Vision Zero strategy is aiming to eliminate. The city's transportation department is putting up seniors' safety zones, but Matlow says he would like to see that happen faster.

As for Social Planning Toronto's other recommendations, Matlow says they will be addressed in the second version of the city's senior strategy, which is set to be unveiled this fall. However, he said to make the city truly liveable for seniors, the city will have do far more than just enhancing recreation programs. 


John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?