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Canada’s working-age population is older than ever, StatsCan says

Canada’s working-age population is older than it has ever been, with more than one in five working adults now nearing retirement in a demographic shift that will create significant challenges to the Canadian workforce in the coming decade, according to new census figures released Wednesday. 

Calling it a “date with demographic destiny,” Laurent Martel, director for the centre of demography at Statistics Canada, said: “Canada is at a very special place right now” in its demographic history. 

“There are very large implications of this situation and it is certainly one factor explaining the current labour shortages that Canada is experiencing.”

The Canadian population now has a larger proportion of people aged 55 to 64 than it does of those aged 15 to 24, the age at which people enter the workforce. 

In 1966, there were 200 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians aged 55 to 64, but that has now been flipped on its head. In 2021, there were only 81 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians in the 55 to 64 age group.

“There are challenges associated with an older workforce, including knowledge transfer, retaining experienced employees and workforce renewal,” the agency said in its report. 

Statistics Canada says that this trend can be slowed through immigration, but “an increase in immigration — even a large one — would not significantly curb this projected drop.” 

The 2021 census says that while declining fertility rates and an increased life expectancy are important factors, the single most significant driver of Canada’s aging population trend is the ongoing retirement of baby boomers (Canadians born between 1946 and 1965 ), which began in 2011.

More to come.

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