Recent studies show that for the first time on record, deaths are exceeding births in British Columbia. In 2021, there were 603 more deaths than births in our province, with more than 44,000 people dying. Whereas over the past 30 years, there were roughly 1.5 births for every 1 death, despite decreasing birth rates. It appears that this has been caused by an aging population and two public health crises: the opioid crisis and the COVID pandemic. These two crises are responsible for at least one in every 16 deaths in 2021.
According to the latest census data, the average BC resident was 43 years of age in 2021 compared to 41 years old a decade earlier. The number of senior citizens in BC is also on the rise, doubling in the last 10 years. In 2021, 20% of the population of BC is age 65 or older.
In the Fraser Valley in particular, there are still more births than deaths but the gap is closing and each community is unique. The City of Hope has an aging population (average age is 50), whereas Langley is seeing a younger and wealthier population (average age is 41), affecting the birth to death ratio. In Abbotsford and Mission, births are still outpacing deaths, but not so in Chilliwack and Agassiz.*
What does this mean for family law? The phenomenon of “grey divorce” where older couples are separating is becoming more prevalent in many communities. Older couples tend to desire to avoid the damage and cost of litigation, opting instead for out-of-court resolution processes, such as mediation and collaborative divorce. To consider ways you can assist an older family member or friend through separation, check out this blog post: https://www.connectfamilylaw.ca/six-ways-to-help-an-elderly-friend-or-relative-leave-an-unhappy-marriage/.
With an aging population we are also seeing many second and third marriages or common law relationships in which people are choosing to confirm their desired financial arrangements through cohabitation or marriage agreements. These agreements allow couples to determine how they wish to set up their finances while together. They can protect their excluded property and allow couples to opt out of all or some aspects of BC’s Family Law Act , agreeing with each other how their assets and debts will be divided if they do separate. To learn more about marriage and cohabitation agreements, check out this blog post: https://www.connectfamilylaw.ca/agreements-in-family-law-an-inexpensive-way-to-get-your-say/.
We at Connect Family Law look forward to assisting clients of all ages in navigating these changing seasons.
*These statistics were taken from www.fvcurrent.com/article/bc-death-birth