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What has happened to Canada’s demographic over the past 50 years? Essay

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In the past 50 years, Canada’s population demographics have changed, in that the whole population has gotten much more older. In the 1950s, the distribution of the population was in a pyramid form, while by 2006 the shape does not resemble a pyramid. (see Fig. I) This means that the bulge is in the middle, which shows that most of the population is between the ages of 40-60. The reason for this steadily aging population is that there is a drop in fertility, and the life expectancy has increased in the last 50 years.

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Also, the reason that the bulge in the demographic is ‘moving upwards’ is because they are the result of the baby boom that occurred in the mid 20th century.

In 1956, the median age of the population was 27.2, while in 2006 it was 38.8 years. Throughout the 50 years, the population has grown more than 10 years, which is another indicator of the aging demographics.

As indicated by the projections, in 2056 the greatest demographic of Canada will be approximately 60-70 years old. This means that the population as a whole will be quite old, which means that if these people retire, there will be very few workers in the workforce, because there will be a large ‘retiring movement’ across the nation, which could create many labour shortages.

Fig. I: Changes in the age structure of the Canadian population

Proportionally More Seniors than Children Toward 2015


As seen in the graph (see Fig. II), the percentage of people aged 15-64 is quite high, as it represents the youth and adults of the population. However, the percentage of people aged 0-14 years is slowly decreasing, due to the aforementioned decrease in fertility of Canadians. The dotted lines represent projections, and through the projections it can be predicted that the percentage of the elderly will exceed that of the young, and will eventually be almost double the value.

Fig. II: Proportion of the population aged 0-14, 15-64, and >65 in Canada

Less Working-Age People per Elderly People


In 1956, the ratio of working-age people to elderly people was almost 8 (see Fig. III). This means that there were 8 working-age people for every elderly person in the workplace. However, due to the aging population, this ratio has since decreased. By 2006, the ratio was a little over 5, and the projection shows that by 2012 the ratio is approximately 4. This means that, eventually, as the population ages more, there will be a larger number of elderly persons than working-age persons in the workplace. This change in ratio could cause a large paradigm shift in how workplaces operate and how employees work.

Fig. III: Ratio of people aged 15-64 to 65 years and over in Canada

Eventually, There Will Be Greater Potential Retirees than Potential New Employees


The following graph (see Fig. IV) shows the ration between the two age groups in the labour market. One is 15-24 years, and other is 55-64 years. During the 1960s and 1970s, the ratio increased because all the babies that were born from baby boomers had reached the age of 15, contributing to the number of workers in that labour market. This would cause the ratio to increase drastically, which is what happened. Since then, the ratio has decreased, due to these youth from the baby boomers slowly aging into the 55-64 years category. The projections state that eventually, the ratio will be less than 1, which means that there will be more people leaving the labour market than people who enter the market. This can be potentially dangerous for the market, as there may be a shortage of workers for many corporations.

Fig. IV: Ratio of people aged 15-24 to 55-64 years in Canada

The Working-Age Population Is Aging


The following graph (see Fig. V) shows the number of people aged 45-64 as a percentage of the people aged 15-64 in the labour market. During the 1980s and 1990s, the percentage begins to rise drastically as the children of the baby boomers reach the age of 45 or more, thus allowing them to be put in that category. According to the predictions, by 2011 the trend will reach its highest point, and after that it will stabilize and refrain from rising.

Fig. IV: Proportion of people aged 45-64 in the working population of 15-64 years in Canada


What is it? What are its different forms?

What Is Age Discrimination?


Age discrimination is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups because of their age. It can be casual or systematic. Age discrimination is most commonly used against older employees, because people believe that they don’t have as many ‘good years’ left compared to younger employees, and they can also be considered more of an expense (pension and benefits) than a younger one. However, for many older employees, they enjoy the pleasure of having a job. For others, a job represents social status, dignity, and financial security.

The Various Types of Age Discrimination/Ageism




Personal Ageism

Occurs when a single person holds prejudicial or discriminatory views toward older persons in the workplace.

Institutional Ageism

Relates to rules, policies, and practices, such as mandatory retirement, that can apply to a certain age group.

Intentional Ageism

Has to do with behaviours or practices that are intentionally and knowingly discriminatory, or biased, against older workers.

Unintentional Ageism

Occurs when an individual unknowingly, or accidentally, engages in a discriminatory act against an older worker in the place of employment.



Describe some myths that are related to older employees who are in the workplace.

Myth 1



Older workers can’t learn as efficiently as younger workers


According to a recent Harvard study, the ability to use an accumulated body of knowledge keeps rising throughout the lifetime of a person, rather than declining. Another interesting fact is that the fastest growing group of Internet users is above the age of 50. Older workers may have different methods of learning than younger workers, but they do not learn slower than them.

Myth 2



Older workers are less creative/innovative than younger workers


Many scholarly institutions have conducted research, trying to find the correlation between age and creativity/innovation. Every study that was conducted supports the theory that having a diversity of age in a workplace encourages innovation, and rich knowledge, accumulated by experience, is crucial to a creative process.

Myth 3



Older workers are less productive than younger workers


Many people seem to think that ‘productivity’ is a generational trait, while it is a character trait in reality. This means that being productive depends on your personality rather than your age. As long as older employees are healthy and know how to operate standard technology, they can be smart as well as productive.



What are some issues that need to be addressed in a workforce with older employees?

Issues in the Workplace


First of all, the term ‘older employee’ needs to be defined. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, “There is no exact, commonly recognized age at which someone is considered an older worker. Some studies have focused on people older than 55, while other studies examined those 45 years or older.”

Older workers might need special accommodations, but not specifically for older workers. For example, a company may provide personalized workstations and job tasks which are best suited to one employee’s ability, but this does not mean they have to address older employees differently. However, older employees may need certain requirements to be able to work efficiently, comfortably, and safely.

Regarding health and safety concerns, older employees have a few extra concerns that should be addressed. Even though older workers usually experience fewer accidents/injuries, they can still get injured. When they do become injured, it can be much more severe than if it would have happened to a younger employee. Also, it can take much longer for an aging employee to heal than a younger employee.

Another issue regarding older employees is work performance. However, this issue is not negative, as it favours older employees. Studies have shown that older employees have more dedication to the workplace, more positive values, and less absenteeism. Many people believe that older employees have a lower work performance, while studies have shown that there is no relationship between age and work performance.

Physical Issues


There are various physical changes that people undergo as they age, and it can also affect their work:

Maximum muscular strength, range of joint movement

From 20 to 60, people generally lose 15 to 20% of their strength. Most jobs nowadays don’t require maximal physical effort, but when a young employee may be simply ‘warming up’ by lifting a box, an older employee may be exerting himself to his maximal capacity, and could cause fatigue.

Sleep Regulation

Work hours in the 21st century can be extremely varied, depending on the person and their preferred hours. Older people cannot regulate sleep as well as young employees, and thus can be impacted heavily by a drastic change in work hours. For young employees, it usually isn’t a problem to change hours. However, older employees might need a greater recovery time to adapt to the new change.


Many people believe that the only change in vision that older people can have is simply having a hard time seeing far or short distances. However, there are many other changes that can occur, such as peripheral vision, visual acuity (blurriness), depth perception, and much more. All of these factors can contribute to an older employee, hindering him from performing at the same level of efficiency as a younger employee.



What parts of the economy are potentially facing labour shortages and why?

Main Areas and Reasons for Labour Shortages


According to HRSDC (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada), there are multiple areas which are facing labour shortages, all at a national level. Also, these occupations have increasing wages, along with low unemployment rates.

There is a high demand for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, medical technologists and technicians in the health services sector. The demand for these occupations has been growing recently, due to various factors. First of all, because the population is aging, there has been more healthcare needs for this population, because an older person will generally need more healthcare than a younger person. Secondly, there has been an increase in government funding for healthcare, which means that they have a surplus of money to use.

They have a surplus of money, which they are supposed to use to benefit the healthcare area of Canada. Thus, they are able to employ more workers, so that the tax payers’ money doesn’t go to waste. However, there is a labour shortage in this area because not enough people are getting employed. Thirdly, there is a high rate of retirement of workers who are already in the labour market. This is due the aging population, and thus there are many people who are leaving the labour market as they become older.

Other Areas Which Are Facing Labour Shortages


There are other sectors in Canada that are also experiencing labour shortages:

1. Oil/gas sector, due to the large amount of investments in this area, which causes a large growth, and thereby needing more employees

2. Trades such as home builders/renovators, due to the large growth in the last several years in residential and commercial construction

3. Information technology, more specifically, computer engineers and software engineers, due to the low school enrolment in these fields.

4. Social sciences such as university teachers, due to a large number of retirements, as well as increase in funding for post-secondary education, which opens up many more jobs.

Overall, the main reasons of labour shortages are due to higher government funding for certain organizations, but more importantly the aging population, which causes a large number of retirements. Because there are more older employees than younger employees, every time an older employee quits, a younger employee must fill his spot right away. Due to the large amount of older employees retiring, it creates a giant gap in the work force, which causes labour shortages.



What can be done to address labour shortages?

Various Solutions for Labour Shortages


As mentioned previously, one of the main causes of labour shortages is that the aging population is causing a high number of retirements in the workplace. There could be various reasons for the older workers retirement, such as boredom, lack of motivation, or even disliking their job. In a workplace, it is very important to be able to create a motivating atmosphere to encourage work for employees of all ages. The solution is to create an environment where the working conditions are good, and where workers will be happy to work in.

If a workplace resembles a dictatorship, where the boss makes all the decision and everyone must follow, it can be quite unpleasant. It will be much more beneficial to approach a new and modern style of management, allowing the employees to make decisions and take lead. Also creating a fun work environment can help workers enjoy the workplace. If the workplace deals with customers, it will seem very gloomy and can discourage both customers and employees.

If workers do not enjoy their job and are unsatisfied with it, it can promote early retirement and/or quitting of the job. An easy way to solve this problem is to have colleague/peer evaluation forms, as well as group surveys issued by the manager. This will allow the manager to understand how employees feel, and what the manager can change to create a pleasant work environment.

Some corporations do not tell the employee what is expected of them, and what they can do to grow as an employee. Offering a employee policy handbook will let employees know what exactly they have to do every time they come to work. Also, having information about promotions with job descriptions, along with evaluations and salary is quite beneficial, as it allows employees to strive further to become a better employee, to result in a promotion. This can create a very motivation workplace, which enhances the environment overall.

A common problem with some companies is that they do not offer various types of training and they do not have it often. This can cause employees to work inefficiently, and not do what they are supposed to do, which can have a negative effect on the company as a whole. Therefore, it is important to offer various types of training such as 1 on 1, online, or even through media such as a DVD. This will target the largest amount of potential employees, and it can cater to every individual’s needs. Having different methods of training can allow individuals to learn properly and efficiently, thus improving the success of the company.



Below is a list of the sources that were consulted in the creation of the report.

“Age Discrimination in the Workplace.” A Common Problem in the Workplace. Web. 02 June 2012. <http://www.canadianlabourrelations.com/age-discrimination-in-the-workplace.html>.

“ARCHIVED – Looking Ahead: A 10-Year Outlook for the Canadian Labour Market (2006-2015).” ARCHIVED – Looking Ahead: A 10-Year Outlook for the Canadian Labour Market (2006-2015). Web. 02 June 2012. <http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/publications_resources/research/categories/labour_market_e/sp_615_10_06/shortages.shtml>.

“Common Menu Bar Links.” Aging Workers : OSH Answers. Web. 02 June 2012. <http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/aging_workers.html>.

“Common Menu Bar Links.” Canadian Demographics at a Glance: Some Facts about the Demographic and Ethnocultural Composition of the Population. Web. 02 June 2012. <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-003-x/2007001/4129904-eng.htm>.

“The Globe and Mail.” The Globe and Mail. Web. 02 June 2012. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-looks-to-unemployed-canadians-to-fill-labour-shortages/article2408394/>.

“Overcome the Labor Shortage.” Home. Web. 02 June 2012. <http://www.monkeydish.com/trade-secrets/articles/overcome-labor-shortage>.

“Reach and Teach’s Just Lists.” Reach and Teach’s Just Lists. Web. 02 June 2012. <http://justlists.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/myths-about-older-workers/>.

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