A record number of Canadians are set to retire, the country’s statistics agency has said, warning of a looming labour crisis linked to the ageing national workforce.
Statistics Canada said on Wednesday that the working-age population – those aged 15 to 64 – “has never been older”, while over 1 in 5 workers in Canada (21.8 percent) were nearing the mandatory or proposed retirement age of 65.
“This is an all-time high in the history of Canadian censuses and one of the factors behind the labour shortages facing some industries across the country,” the agency said.
It cited the so-called baby boomer generation – people born between 1946 and 1965 – that is exiting the labour force as one of the factors accelerating population ageing.
“There are challenges associated with an older workforce, including knowledge transfer, retaining experienced employees, and workforce renewal,” it said.
Canada’s ageing population has been a matter of concern for several years.
In 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government said it would bring in more than 1.2 million new immigrants over three years to help fill gaps in the labour market and stimulate the country’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said at the time that Canada needed more workers “and immigration is the way to get there”.
But Statistics Canada said on Wednesday that “immigration has a rejuvenating effect on the Canadian population, but this effect is not enough to stop the population aging process”.
In late 2021, the agency said in a separate report that there were nearly one million unfilled positions across Canada, more than double the previous year. Some of the hardest jobs to fill included restaurant staff, construction labourers, nurses and social workers.
Statistics Canada said seven million people are now aged 65 and older, accounting for about 19 percent of the total population of 37 million, while the number of people aged 85 and older could triple by 2046.
The demographic shift, it said, was linked to low fertility, an increase in life expectancy, and the fact that the so-called baby boom generation began turning 65 in 2011.