Outdated thinking about old age hinders Canada’s economic and social development

Governments in Canada define working age between 15 and 65, but that distorts the lives of Canadians.

The 2016 census revealed that one in five Canadians aged 65 and over—nearly 1.1 million people—still works and one-third works full time.

Many of the private sector workers and the self-employed work well beyond age 65, which is why the the average retirement age in Canada is now 64.4an increase of three years in two decades.

False assumptions about age 65

Although mandatory retirement at age 65 was eliminated more than ten years agolaws and public policies, including Statistics Canada definitions, continue to assume that everyone retires at age 65.

In many provinces, workers’ compensation laws pay injured workers for lost earnings up to age 65or for two years if they were over 63 at the time of an accident at work.

Employers’ obligations to rehire workers following an injury only apply until someone turns 65.

Employers are not required to provide medical and dental benefits, or life and disability insurance, to workers age 65 and older. There may be no difference between the skills, abilities and duties of a 64-year-old employee and a 65-year-old employee, but one receives benefits while the other does not. not benefit.

Being 65 is not magical. A reformulation of the working and retirement age is strongly justified to strengthen Canada’s economic and social development. Other countries have already done so.



Read more: Retirement age is rising – but our new study finds most only work a healthy ten years after 50


Recent development

Setting the age of entry into old age at 65 is a relatively recent development.

Germany, the first nation to adopt an old-age social insurance program in 1889, set the eligibility age at 70. Newfoundland Old Age Pension, established in 1911, set 75 as the minimum age for receiving benefits. The Canada Old Age Pensions Act, in force from 1927 to 1952, set the retirement age at 70.

In the mid-1960s, when the Canada Pension Plan was introduced, 65 has been established as the age to receive a full pension and receive Old Age Security benefits. The 65th birthday of Canadian workers has become the universal marker of their exit from the labor market and their official entry into old age.

Demographers and other experts say we should review the definition of “old age” and “retirement age”, because the use of 65 is increasingly inappropriate as people live longer and healthier lives than ever before.

In addition, compared to several decades ago, Canadians are devoting more years to post-secondary studies, which translates into a later start to full-time work.

The work itself has also changed, with fewer and fewer occupations requiring intense physical labor.

Most jobs no longer require intense physical labor.
(Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels)

Reconsider what is meant by old

There are ways to update the definition of old age that would have obvious social and economic benefits.

One is to have multiple markers for ‘old’, such as ‘young old age’ for people aged 65-74; “middle age” for those aged 75-84 and “old age” for those aged 85 and over.

This recognizes the diversity of people aged 65 and over, allowing politicians and other stakeholders to design more sensitive and age-appropriate policies for each of these three distinct demographic groups.

For example, working after age 65 has been shown to health benefits for certain groups and therefore should not be discouraged for the “young old”.

A second option is to adjust the age that marks official entry into old age – currently 65 – to take account of increased longevity. A century ago, Canadians reaching the age of 65 could expect to live another 13 years. Currently, men reaching 65 will live 18 years longer, while women will live 22 years longer.

With a longer life expectancy, it makes sense to have a higher age marker for old age. This option has been offered in the UK and is often accompanied by the proclamation: “70 is the new 65”.

Finally, old age could be made more gender sensitive. Women live longer on average than men and are therefore classified as older for a longer period. The latest results from the Canadian census there are more than 9,000 centenarians in Canadapredominantly women, each of whom has been defined as elderly for almost a third of her life.

An older blonde woman sits between two younger people in an office meeting.
Women live longer than men and now make up a large part of the working population.
(Shutterstock)

Intended for men

The use of the same age definition for women and men reflects the fact that historically the age of retirement and retirement was set for men and not for women, as fewer women worked outside the fireplace.

Since women live longer on average than men, they have to work longer to have similar retirement savings, but that’s not possible if they retire at the same age as their male counterparts.

A revised conception of old age would significantly reduce the number of people classified as old and more accurately reflect the total number of people in the working-age population in Canada. A modern definition would also allow reduce stereotypes about older workers and ageism while pushing governments to reform outdated laws and give a boost to an economy that often faces labor shortages.

Raising the age at which Canadians are considered old is certainly an easy political sell. After all, who could object to being considered younger?

Joel C. Hicks