Canada’s aging workforce threatens to worsen labor shortages | world news

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadians close to retirement outnumbered those entering the workforce by a record margin in 2021, census data released on Wednesday showed, raising concerns that the labor shortage in the country will worsen in the years to come.

Although Statistics Canada expects the gap to narrow before widening again around 2036, it warned that the share of the population of working-age Canadians was falling. Meanwhile, the number of people aged 85 and over is expected to triple by 2051.

“We’ve reached a point where the working-age population has never been older,” said Julien Bérard-Chagnon, senior analyst at Statistics Canada’s Center for Demography.

More seniors are working at least part-time and helping their children and grandchildren, Bérard-Chagnon said. But the shrinking workforce as a share of the population will nonetheless present economic and fiscal challenges, he said, creating an increased need for health care workers, for example – an area already in short supply. .

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As Canada faces a labor shortage – the unemployment rate fell to 5.3% last month – its government is increasingly relying on temporary residents – a quick fix, some economists say , drives down wages and makes migrants vulnerable to exploitation.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced it was further expanding its temporary worker programs, removing limits on low-wage positions in seasonal industries and allowing certain sectors to hire up to 30% of their workforce. labor through low-wage temporary foreign labor, among other measures. .

Residents of retirement age make up a smaller share of Canada’s population than in Germany, France, Italy and Japan, but larger than in the United States and the United Kingdom, said Statistics Canada.

The results are “a warning shot against the bow” of the Canadian government, said Armine Yalnizyan, an economist. She said they showed an imminent need to improve training and working conditions to optimize the workforce.

“We could maximize the potential of the people around us much more effectively, but we need a plan to do that. It doesn’t happen by accident.”

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Paul Simao)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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