Many Canadians may be forced to work longer, delay retirement—report

October 26, 2006

OTTAWA—As the leading edge of the baby boom generation reaches its late 50s, concern is growing about labour shortages and the affordability of pension programs. Governments are abolishing mandatory retirement, abandoning early retirement incentives, and considering raising the age of eligibility for public pensions. As a result, Canadians may be forced to go on working as they grow older—whether they want to or not, says a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Growing Older, Working Longer, by CCPA Research Associate and pension expert Monica Townson, examines these emerging trends and considers the implications of the new face of retirement in Canada.

According to Townson, the responsibility for retirement income has been shifted away from collective actions and programs and onto individuals. Less than 40% of Canadians now belong to a registered pension plan through their work, and many won’t be able to save enough on their own.

“We could face growing rates of senior poverty in the future, reversing the gains we’ve made over the past 20 years or so,” Townson warns.

Raising the age of eligibility for public pensions such as Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan would hit hardest at lower-income elders who must rely on these programs as their major sources of retirement income. They would be forced to go on working until they qualified for benefits.

"All the signs are that Canadians don't want to work longer, but many people may not have much choice in the matter," Townson says. The new face of retirement will continue to evolve - with or without government intervention, Townson says.

"We will need to keep a watchful eye on the process to make sure retirement really does offer the free choices Canadians want to have without replacing the collective responsibility that ensures all citizens are equally protected."

The report also considers new and more positive perspectives on our aging population and discusses how older workers might be protected in this changing environment.


Growing Older, Working Longer: The New Face of Retirement is available from the CCPA.

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.