Why Aren’t There More Seniors at Work in Canada?

August 15 2022

Early this year, Statistics Canada showed that the unemployment rate had recovered to pre-pandemic levels. However, a closer look at Canada’s employment statistics revealed that the workforce demographics had changed. Particularly, there were fewer seniors at work.

According to the Labour Force Survey, from 2020 to 2022, the number of unemployed Canadians aged fifty-five and older increased by over 5 per cent. Whereas the number of unemployed Canadians aged twenty-five to fifty-four decreased by almost 40,000.

A Deeper Look at Canadian Seniors at Work

One issue with Statistics Canada’s demographic breakdowns is that having a category of people aged fifty-five and older groups together workers with disparate challenges. For example, someone aged fifty-six will likely be in a different position than someone aged seventy-seven.

This demographic will require a deeper analysis, but based on the Labour Force Survey, employment gains in this group were entirely part-time jobs, mostly among women.

One possible explanation for seeing fewer seniors at work in Canada is that many who were close to retirement during the onset of the pandemic may have chosen to leave their positions early.

Also, many seniors feel discouraged about retraining or opportunities for employment. In one survey from before the pandemic, 80 per cent of seniors said they felt their age was a consideration in the hiring process. Age discrimination represents a fifth of human rights claims filed in Ontario.

Canada Needs Seniors at Work

According to The Harvard Business Review, the commonly held view that people should retire at sixty-five is flawed for several reasons.

Firstly, people who stop working often experience heart attacks and depression due to not having as much purpose in their lives. Not everyone is suited for extended years of leisure and many benefit from working.

Secondly, seniors are more successful entrepreneurs. They are three times more likely to create successful companies because they’re more patient and collaborative. They also lack the youthful “need to prove myself” attitude, which can be a hindrance.

Thirdly, while certain cognitive processes may decline in old age, knowledge and expertise continue to increase, which are the main predictors of job performance. There is no age limit on learning new things.

Finally, seniors at work are in a great position to mentor younger employees, passing on valuable knowledge.

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