Retirement used to be a brass ring for all adults to reach for throughout their working lives. After a few decades in the professional world, seniors could look forward to retiring and spending their golden years traveling, pursuing leisure activities or visiting with family. However, recent reports have revealed that many Canadians are bucking this trend. Not only are seniors putting off retirement until later, some are actually returning to the workplace later in life. Whether it's for financial reasons or simply because they enjoy the activity, Canada's workforce is more silver-lined than ever before.
Canadians working longer, living longer
If you think you've been noticing more seniors in the workforce, you're not wrong. According to The Globe & Mail, 2013 marks the first time in the country's history that the number of seniors between 65 and 69 in the workforce rose to 25 per cent. This number seems to be rising somewhat alongside the average life expectancy in Canada, which has been steadily increasing over the past few years. The rising life expectancy, coupled with the baby boomer generation hitting conventional retirement age at an astounding rate, means it's very likely that more seniors will be remaining in or returning to their jobs in years to come.
What's keeping Canadians in the workplace?
Despite the fact that more older Canadians are keeping their jobs than ever before, there isn't a single reason that's keeping older adults in the workplace. The University of British Columbia publication The Thunderbird cited a report that found that Canadian seniors were holding on to their jobs for reasons ranging from financial necessity to personal preference. According to the source, research from Statistics Canada found that 38 per cent of seniors who returned to or remained in their jobs were motivated to do so financially. A combination of inadequate savings and pensions that simply weren't enough to support retirement made the prospect of not working unfeasible. More seniors are having to continue to work just to make ends meet, which sets aside the possibility of focusing on senior care or exploring retirement community living.
However, this isn't the case for most Canadians. The Thunderbird pointed out that 22 per cent of post-retirement-age working seniors maintained their jobs because they weren't enjoying their retirement, and another 19 per cent claimed they simply liked their jobs. Interestingly, the source found that those who had immigrated to Canada were around 50 per cent more likely to express uncertainty about their financial ability to retire than were native-born Canadians. Reasons for this range from some immigrants spending less time in the workforce earning pension to the need for these Canadians to support other non-working family members.
How will Canada respond?
The influx of working senior Canadians is likely to have an impact on the country as a whole, specifically as far as certain economic considerations are concerned. For example, Canada's Guaranteed Income Supplement, offered to eligible Canadians at age 65, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, could potentially face review if the trend of adults working through conventional retirement age holds out. The ability for older adults to receive regular government benefits alongside their part- or full-time job income may possibly lead the federal government to revise the eligibility age as a means to save Social Insurance money.
According to The Globe & Mail, the Conservative government is looking into raising the minimum eligibility age for GIS from 65 to 67. If this measure is successful, it may create an even greater need for some seniors to remain in the workforce for longer. As the Globe noted, the proposed legislation, set to begin phasing in around 2023, could lead to around 33 per cent of 65- to 69-year-old Canadians remaining in the workforce.