Royce Shook

1 year ago · 2 min. reading time · ~10 ·

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Promoting the labour force participation Of older Canadians

Promoting the labour force participation Of older Canadians

In 2018 the government published a report on the labour force participation of older Canadians. It was relatively upbeat, and it saw a world where there would not be widespread labour shortages over the next 5 to ten years. Then the Pandemic hit in 2020 and we are still feeling the impacts. The workers had the opportunity to reassess how they feel about work and there was a paradigm shift in attitudes toward work. We hear talk of the quiet resignation or the refusal of workers to go back to the office or the mass resignation.

Because of all of these factors and an ageing population, skill shortages are expected to increase in certain occupations, sectors and regions. Consequently, industry and the government believe there is a need to increase the labour force participation of older individuals, and other groups of Canadians, to support businesses, economic growth and continued improvement in Canada’s standard of living.

According to the report issued in 2017 overall, older Canadians fare relatively well in the labour market, with record-high labour force participation rates and a clear upward trend in retirement ages. However, there is still room for improvement, as Canada’s participation rate of older individuals lags behind other countries. There are also many older adults who struggle when trying to stay in the labour market or re-enter the workforce because they face particular challenges, including:

·        ageism;

·        lack of education and access to training;

·        difficulty in finding and applying for jobs;

·        health issues, work-life balance issues and lack of workplace accommodations; and

·        disincentives or lack of incentives to work in the retirement income system.

For the first time in Canada’s history, there are now more individuals over the age of 65 than there are children under the age of 15. As the population ages and more individuals exit the workforce, this will put pressure on labour force growth that could adversely impact economic growth. Canada will have to rely more heavily on productivity growth and increased workforce participation of all Canadians, including older individuals, to maintain its pace of improvement in living standards.

In addition, rapid globalization and technological changes have led to the changing nature of work. The traditional employee/employer relationship is evolving, sometimes leading to less secure relationships, as well as increases in different types of work. The economy is also restructuring, resulting in more opportunities that require highly skilled and knowledgeable workers. Making the adjustment to this new reality is going to be hard for both employers and workers, both young and old.

Canada’s population is evolving and is experiencing significant changes: its population is aging due to lower fertility rates and longer life expectancy. Some of us baby boomers (born during the post-World War II boom between 1946 and 1960) have already transitioned into retirement, while many others begin preparing their retirement plans. Hence, the age structure is changing in Canada—the number of people aged 55 and over increased from 6 million in the mid-1990s (around 20 percent of the population) to 11 million in 2016 (around 30 percent of the population). Although not all regions are equally affected by population aging, the number of individuals 55 and over is expected to reach 17 million by 2036 (almost half of the expected population).

Furthermore, given that women have a longer life expectancy than men, the gender distribution is much different at later ages. While women account for a little more than half the population in Canada (50.9 percent in 2016), among people aged 65 years and older, the number of women exceeds the number of men by more than 20 percent, and in the 85-and-older population, there are about two women for every man. This gender gap is serious as women can not save the same amount as men for retirement because of the inequality of pay. As a result, women are more likely to end up needing help from society as they age.

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