With Boomers and seniors now making up around two-fifths of the Canadian population, Ms. Eng says that change will also come from the ballot. “These people have been through the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” she says. “They understand social protest as a vehicle for change. They’re not going to take any sort of ageist behaviour.” Workplaces will have to deal with inter-generational dynamics , making use of people’s skills and introducingflexible timetables for older workers who have to look after families, she says.
In the midst of this state of flux stand public servants with their defined-benefits schemes — they are about the only people who have any certainty about retirement. William Robson, president of the think tank C.D. Howe Institute, says their position may become more untenable as social norms change.
“I think that, for a lot of Boomers, it’s going to be weird to come home in your early 60s from work and see your [public sector] counterpart on the porch with a drink. There may be a bit of irritation over that.”
Official figures show the proportion of older workers in employment has been creeping up. In 1995, as the country struggled to emerge from recession, barely a fifth of people over the age of 55 were in work, according to Statistics Canada. This had gone up to almost a third by 2009. For those over 65, the worker contingent went from 6% to 10% over the same time frame.
Keywords: retirement, ageism, work, boomers