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Canada faces record wave of retirements as it grapples with historic labour shortage

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Canada’s working population has never been older

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Canada is facing a record wave of retirements as one in five Canadians near the end of their working lives in a country already grappling with labour shortages and historically low unemployment.

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A Statistics Canada study based on the 2021 census finds that Canada’s working population has never been older. Almost 22 per cent of the population is between 55 and 64, an all-time high in the history of the census.

Canadians aged 15 to 64 drive the economy and at 64.8 per cent this age group still represents one of the highest in the G7. Less than 60 per cent of Japan’s population, for example, is within working age.

But things are about to change as the last of the baby boomers leave the workplace and fewer young people step up to replace them. By 2051, the proportion of working age Canadians is expected to fall to 60 per cent.

“An increase in immigration — even a large one — would not significantly curb this projected drop,” said Statistics Canada.

Between 2016 and 2021, the number of children under the age of 15 grew at a pace six times slower than the number of people 65 and older.

During that time, the number of people 65 and over rose 18.3 per cent to 7 million, the second largest increase in 75 years. The largest was a 20 per cent gain between 2011 and 2016.

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