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What is an “older” worker?

Introduction

There are many definitions of “older” workers:

  • The Government of Canada defines an older worker as someone 50 years of age or older who is interested in continuing to work or looking for a new job to match his/her skills.
  • In BC, older worker programs are targeted for workers 45 years of age and up.
  • Other private agencies target older worker programs to workers over 45 years of age and older.

To collect the Old Age Security pension from the government, you must be 65 years of age.

Older workers in the workforce

The Canadian workforce is aging quickly. In 2016, individuals aged 55 and over accounted for 36% of the working-age population. By 2026, 4 in 10 working-age Canadians could be aged 55 or over.

  • More people aged 55-64 are working than 15-24 year olds

This means older workers with experience are needed to maintain the current workforce.


As an older worker, you have significant experience and knowledge of workplace operations. You can be a valuable resource for information sharing to younger workers. The current trend is for older workers to work as professional service consultants or contractors, working part- or full-time without being on permanent staff.

Distribution of Working Age Population by Age Group, 1976-2026

Labour Force Survey, 1976 to 2016 population projections for Canada, provinces and territories, 2017 to 2026.

Source: Statistics Canada

Helpful Books

The Vancouver Public Library has a number of books that can help you look for work. The titles below are just some examples:

Career Exploration and Job Search

Resumes and Cover Letters

Networking

Networking is still one of the best ways to find employment, regardless of your age. If you’ve been in Canada for a few years, you may already have a network of family and friends who you can talk to about your job search.

Another option is to grow your network by joining a professional association or using social media to connect with like-minded professionals.

  • MeetUp
    Many of the groups in MeetUp are based on professional networks. Search the Vancouver site for groups with similar career interests.

Job Boards for Older Workers

Besides checking standard job boards, there are a few options that target experienced workers over 45 or 55 years of age.

Working as a Consultant

If you find it difficult to find permanent work in your professional field, you may want to consider working as a consultant. Consultants have the flexibility to set their own hours, and you can work as much or as little as you choose.

Employment Programs for Older Workers

Tip: Make sure to check the requirements for older worker programs. Often government-funded programs have special requirements for where you live, whether or not you’ve received employment insurance recently, or a specific age range.

Your Rights as an Older Worker

The BC Human Right’s Code states that an employer cannot refuse to interview, hire or promote you or decide to fire you because of your age.

What can’t a prospective employer ask?

  • Your age,
  • When you expect to retire

In BC, you are protected from age discrimination in the workplace related to:

  • employment (hiring, firing, or terms and conditions of employment);
  • age requirements in employment;
  • membership in a trade union, employer’s organization, or occupational association (such as excluding or expelling from membership because of age, or discriminating against a person or member due to their age)

If you have experienced age discrimination

  • If it is safe to do so, tell the person firmly that their actions or comments are unacceptable and ask them to stop. If you find this difficult, consider asking a friend for help.
  • Keep a written record of exactly what happened and when and what was said.
  • File a human rights complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Filing a complaint starts a legal process that is similar to a court proceeding. Assistance is available when either filing or responding to a complaint.

For more information see:

Additional Resources

  • CARP
    A national non-profit organisation that promotes the interests of older Canadians.