If current trends continue, Canada's labour force is going to change drastically over the next 20 years, Statistics Canada said in a report Wednesday.

Here's the outlook:

  • After expanding by about four per cent a year in the past, the labour force growth rate will slow to less than one per cent a year by 2031.
  • The workforce is going to get a lot older. In 2001, when the first batch of baby boomers turned 55, only one in 10 Canadian workers was at least that age. By 2031, Statistics Canada expects that ratio to jump to almost one in four.
  • In 1981, there were roughly six people in the labour force for each retiree. By 2031, 50 years later, that ratio will have declined to fewer than three to one.
  • Twenty years ago, fewer than one in five Canadian workers were born in a different country. By 2031, that ratio is expected to rise to one in three.
  • In 1996, one in 10 Canadian workers were part of a visible minority group. By 2031, that's expected to be more like one in three. And even if immigration stopped completely from this point on, the percentage of Canadian workers who were a member of a visible minority would still be more than one in five by 2031.

Statistics Canada considers the labour force to be the country's total of people aged 15 years old or more, who are currently working or actively looking for work.

Any way you slice it, that pool is going to change dramatically, the agency says.

Canada's statistics agency projected 20 years into the future based on a number of different projections and assumptions. Though the final numbers changed a little, the trend was the same in all cases. "The projections also [are] that … the labour force will become older and increasingly ethnoculturally diverse," as the agency put it.

The agency cites demographic trends to explain the changes. Specifically, baby boomers will age and exit the workforce, and an increasing percentage of those who will replace them will be immigrants.

The trends were moving in the same direction in every province.