Census figures paint statistical portrait of Canadian military members, veterans

By Jim Bronskill, CTV News, July 13, 2022 Statistics Canada has worked in recent years with federal agencies and others to paint a fuller picture of veterans, looking at their overall health and well-being.

Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

More than four in 10 military veterans counted in the latest census were seniors aged 65 and older, but almost one-third of former service members were in the core working age group of 25 to 54.

There were 97,625 Canadians serving in the military last year and another 461,240 former members, according to the new census data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

The figures also show currently serving personnel were younger on average than the employed population overall, and almost one in five were women.

The 2021 census asked Canadians about previous service in the Canadian Armed Forces for the first time since 1971.

Comprehensive data on veterans can help ensure proper allocation of money by the federal government for former members, their families and other program recipients.

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The census data could help provide valuable insights about the mental-health needs of former members, including those at risk of suicide, said Tim Laidler of the Veterans Transition Network.

The organization helps veterans make the move to civilian life, noting that those who have trouble doing so are vulnerable. It leaves many feeling isolated from the world and saps the strength they need to deal with depression, post-traumatic stress or substance abuse, the transition network says.

Laidler, who served with the army in Afghanistan, recalls the days when many believed suicide was not a big issue among Canadian military members.

“But a large part of the problem was they were only looking at people who are still currently serving who committed suicide, and nobody was tracking the veterans,” he said.

“So when you actually looked at the veterans and those serving in the military, you realized that there was a much higher percentage of people committing suicide and it was, in fact, a big problem.”

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