The unprecedented wave of retirements by Baby Boomers from the Canadian labour force is causing massive headaches for business owners and great opportunities for economic immigration.
“The working-age population (persons aged 15 to 64) has never been older,” says Statistics Canada.
“More than one in five persons, 21.8 per cent, in this population is close to retirement, that is, aged 55 to 64. This proportion represents an all-time high in the history of Canadian censuses.”
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In the five years that ended in 2021, the number of seniors over the age of 65 years old rose by 18.3 per cent to hit seven million in Canada.
“This is the second-largest increase in 75 years, after the (20-per cent) increase observed from 2011 to 2016,” says Statistics Canada.
Employers scrambling to find people to fill jobs left vacant by retiring employees are raising wages in a desperate attempt to outbid one another for the limited supply of workers.
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“Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees in Canada rose by 3.5 per cent year-on-year to $1,159.01 in June of 2022, outpacing a 2.5 per cent increase seen in May,” says the Trading Economics website.
“It was the thirteenth consecutive month of growth in average weekly earnings, led by the goods-producing sector, where wages rose 6.1 per cent to $1,437), mainly manufacturing, which increased wages by 6.9 per cent to $1,273.
“The services-producing sector also posted gains of three per cent to $1,102, driven by the professional, scientific and technical services sector where wages climbed 10.8 per cent to $1,657.”
Canada’s working-age population has never been older.
“The aging of many baby boomer cohorts, the youngest of whom are between 56 and 64 years today, is accelerating population aging,” says Statistics Canada.
“There are challenges associated with an older workforce, including knowledge transfer, retaining experienced employees, and workforce renewal.”
Wave Of Retirements Grew By A Third This Year Alone
By August this year, roughly 307,000 Canadians had retired this year. That’s up almost a third, 31.8 per cent, compared to the same number last year and 12.5 per cent higher than in August 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, Statistics Canada figures reveal.
In some sectors, the shortage of workers in Canada has reached the crisis point.
Nurses are among the most in-demand workers in the country. In its Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, Statistics Canada reported earlier this year there were 23,620 vacant nursing positions in the first quarter of 2022.
“Nursing vacancies in early 2022 were more than triple, rising 219.8 per cent, the level of five years earlier, illustrating the extent to which longer-term trends may be contributing to the current challenges facing hospitals and other health care employers.”
Statistics Canada noted 11.2 per cent of nurses holding down jobs in July were off sick for at least part of a week.
“One of the ways hospitals and clinics can respond to absences and unmet labour demand is by scheduling more employees to work extra hours. In July 2022, the proportion of nurses working paid overtime was at its highest level for the month of July since comparable data became available in 1997,” noted Statistics Canada.
More than one in five nurses on the job were putting in overtime in July just to keep operations in hospitals running. In many cases, emergency rooms or other services at hospitals had to suffer a reduction in hours open due to the lack of nurses.
Truckers And Nurses Are In High Demand As Retiring Workers Shrink The Labour Pool
Cathryn Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, says the big challenge is finding younger workers to replace the retirees.
“It’s a huge problem right now, because we’ve had so many that have retired unexpectedly,” she said, citing the pandemic, working conditions and a wage dispute with Canada’s largest province.
Truckers, too, are a hot commodity in Canada.
The transportation industry is grappling with that severe worker shortage, both because of the pandemic-driven frenzy for more goods and due to retirements.
“More and more drivers are aging and therefore retiring or contemplating different lifestyle,” said Tony Reeder, owner of Trans-Canada College, a career college that trains transport truck drivers.
At the same time, demand is booming from trucking companies, many of which take on student drivers for on-the-job training courses and then hire them outright as soon as they are fully licensed, said Reeder.
Faced with this paucity of people to fill positions, businesses are increasingly turning to immigration as a solution to their labour shortage woes.
Economic Immigration Offers Hope To Foreign Nationals And Canadian Employers
Employers hoping to hire a foreign national can avail themselves of this international talent and labour through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and the International Mobility Program (IMP).
Under normal circumstances, the Global Talent Stream (GTS), a part of the (TFWP), can lead to the granting of Canadian work permits and processing of visa applications within two weeks.
Employers can also bring in foreign nationals to fill available positions through the Express Entry system, which receives immigration applications online.
Applicants who meet eligibility criteria and have a job offer submit an online profile known as an Expression of interest (EOI), under one of three federal immigration programs or a participating provincial immigration program, to the Express Entry Pool.
The candidates’ profiles then are ranked against each other according to a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest-ranked candidates are considered for ITAs for permanent residence. Those receiving an ITA must quickly submit a full application and pay processing fees within a delay of 90 days.