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Employment in an Aging Canada

Canada's population has aged dramatically in the last five years. We can expect significant changes to our economy and our workplaces as a result.

Census 2006: Age and Sex, released in July, shows nearly one out of every three Canadians is now a "boomer". Canadians aged 55 to 64 are the fastest growing demographic, up nearly 30 per cent from the last Canadian census five years ago.

Higher life expectancy means there are more seniors than ever - now one in seven Canadians. At the same time, declining birthrates mean fewer children. Statistics Canada projects that within a decade, seniors could outnumber children younger than 15.

Our over-80 population is the second-fastest growing group, increasing by more than 25 per cent in the last five years, followed closely by centenarians (aged 100 and over) whose numbers grew by 22 per cent since the last census.

Today there's a one-to-one ratio between those entering the workforce and those nearing retirement. But in 10 years there may be more people leaving the workplace than entering it. In twenty years, there may be only two workers for every senior - down from a five-to-one ratio today.

The aging population may lead to more jobs in the private and public sector dedicated to servicing this demographic. New businesses and organizations are already being created to reflect demands of the aging population.

Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) will continue to re-define society, as they have practically from day one. The question is: how will they do it?

Already many boomers are rejecting or re-defining retirement. Many are healthier and more active than previous generations, and may find "traditional" retirement unsatisfying. Others may not be in a financial position to retire.

Fears about worker shortages may not be realized if boomers keep working longer, but expect new dynamics in a multi-generational workplace. Employers will have to adapt to retain workers, and to maintain productivity and competitiveness.

Boomers who stay in the workforce will continue to be squeezed by the demands on generations on either side. The seniors in their lives - parents, in-laws, aunts and uncles, neighbours and friends - will live longer. Boomers who take on caregiving roles will be doing it longer, all while they juggle the demands of work, "boomerang" kids, grandchildren, and time for themselves.

The implications for individual health and well-being and for our overall economy are significant. Governments, employers and businesses in the private sector, service agencies and extended families all face challenges in adapting to these population shifts.

We invite our readers to weigh in on predictions for the future. How will your family, your workplace or business be affected by today's aging trends? Please send us your thoughts at [email protected].

Vol. 3. No. 19 

© ElderWise Inc. 2007.
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