Older adults (especially those aged 65 and over) tend to represent a small part of the Canadian workforce. For some this may reflect a personal decision to leave the workforce and retire.

For many of those who are employed, this reflects enjoyment of their job and a desire to continue working. While for others it is an economic reality of not being able to afford to stop working.

For many older workers, there are significant challenges in the workplace, in keeping current jobs or getting new ones.

Even in early middle age (e.g. age 45 and over) it can be harder for older adults to stay employed. Key industries such as forestry and manufacturing  in which older adults have been employed have been changing significantly.

This page will identify employment issues that particularly affect older adults, and the ways Canadian laws protect or may negatively affect them.

For example, in Ontario, under Workplace Safety and Insurance Board rules and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act., workers who are injured on the job and who are aged 63 and older, may only claim loss of earnings benefits for up to two years (that is up to age 65). All other workers are eligible for loss of earning  benefits for six years, and possibly more.


Note: Often when governments are talking about "older workers" they are typically referring to people aged 55 to 64. not those over age 65.

A Few Figures

Statistics Canada notes that in 2006, workers age 55 to 64 represented 14% of the total population, up from 11% in 1976. At the same time, the overall labour force participation rate for this group increased from 53% to 59%.



Targeted Initiative for Older Workers Targeted Initiative for Older Workers


This is a two year initiative started in 2006 to help unemployed older workers in communities experiencing ongoing high unemployment and/or with a high reliance on a single industry affected by downsizing. Projects were designed to improve the employability of participants from 55 to 64 years of age, and assist them through activities such as prior learning assessment, skills upgrading, and experience in new fields of work. Nine provinces and territories participated. Alberta was one of the ones who did not. The program has been extended to 2012.


 K. Marshall & V. Ferrao (August 2007) Participation of older workers" in Statistics Canada's Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 8, no. 8, pg. 5-11. Online: http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/75-001-XIE/75-001-XIE2007108.pdf



D. H. Wegman & J. P. McGee, (eds) (2004) Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers. Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences and Education. National Academies Press: Washington, D.C.

Description: This American book notes "Older workers differ from their younger counterparts in a variety of physical, psychological, and social factors. Evaluating the extent, causes, and effects of these factors and improving the research and data systems necessary to address the health and safety needs of older workers may significantly impact both their ability to remain in the workforce and their well being in retirement. "

The book provides an image of what is currently known about the health and safety needs of older workers and the research needed to encourage social polices that guarantee older workers a meaningful share of the nation s work opportunities.


Canadian Labour Congress. April 2007.Submission to the Expert Panel on Older Workers on Employment Insurance and Displaced Older Workers

Description: In its note to government on the report,   CLC notes important areas that were not addressed : including the adequacy of current federal income security programs which help older workers, notably the Employment Insurance (EI) program.and the current context of labour adjustment for many older workers displaced by a major new round of industrial re-structuring.


Human Resources and Social Development Canada. (2007)

Expert Panel on Supporting and Engaging Older Workers in the New Economy

PDF: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/publications_resources/lmp/eow/2008/older_workers_2008.pdf

 Description: The Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada established the Expert Panel on Older Workers on January 23, 2007. The Panel's task was to consider the current situation and future prospects of older workers, and to make recommendations to the government. For the purposes of this study that older workers are those 55 years and older.  The panel established two overarching themes to guide its work:

The Panel provides key findings and offers 13 recommendations.