Canada’s economy will be at risk if the country doesn’t start addressing the issue of its aging workforce, according to a new report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, an Ottawa-based network connecting business and government.
In the past few decades, growth in Canada’s working age population has declined by a third while the country’s fertility rate ranks among the world’s lowest. As more baby boomers get ready for retirement, the Canadian labor force is expected to shrink even further, the report said.
The loss of key experienced workers will create labor shortages in sectors like skilled trades and professional and managerial occupations.
“The time to act is now,” said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“Many companies and sectors are already facing shortages of the talented people they need to remain competitive and grow,” he added.
Beatty said both government and business must come up with solutions to the demographic crunch that threatens to hurt Canada’s per-capita output and global competitiveness.
The report makes several recommendations, such as:
Changing Canada’s immigration policies and programs to better integrate newcomers into the workforce.
Improving labor productivity by investing in capital equipment, research and development and new technologies.
Drawing on underused labor sources such as younger and older workers, the Aboriginal population, and people with disabilities.
Creating more flexible work patterns for young families.