Boom or Bust

No more 'Freedom 55': Number of Manitoba seniors working has doubled

The number of Manitobans aged 65 and older who are working part-time and full-time has doubled since 2000.

The number of Manitobans aged 65 and older who are working part-time and full-time has doubled since 2000.

Randy Waylett spent his career in the manufacturing industry left his job last year, but not for retirement. He is joining the wave of baby boomers who are reinventing their resumes and rethinking retirement. 2:05

At age 59, Randy Waylett's full-time job is looking for a job. 

The Winnipeg man who spent his career in the manufacturing industry left his job last year, but not for retirement. He is joining the wave of baby boomers who are reinventing their resumes and rethinking retirement. 
Randy Waylett, 59, currently has 15 job applications out and plans to work at least five to 10 more years before retirement. (CBC News)

"Right now I have about 15 job applications that are out there and I have had a couple of interviews," he told CBC News.

Waylett has narrowed down his job search to home sales, car sales and funeral planning. He is looking for a "fun job" for the next five to 10 years before he tries out retirement. 

"I could have possibly retired however probably wouldn't have had the retirement I'm really looking for" he said, adding he wants to save more money to travel and pass on to his children.

Data collected by Statistics Canada shows the number of Manitobans aged 55 and older who are either working or actively looking for work increased to 40 per cent in 2015 from 27 per cent in 2000.
In Manitoba, the number of people over 55 holding part-time and full-time jobs has more than doubled since the year 2000, according to Statistics Canada.

In Manitoba, the number of people age 55 and older holding part-time and full-time jobs has more than doubled since the year 2000. The number of seniors (age 65 and older) working part-time and full-time has also more than doubled since 2000.

One factor in the spike is a shifting demographic — the older population is simply larger. Waylett and his fellow boomers are also considering the reality of living longer and the rising cost of doing so.  

"I think once people get to 55 they still feel like they're still fairly young," he said, adding he has factored in the possibility of living to age 90. "Just making sure I have enough financial funds to live that long and not be a burden to my family."

60 is the new 40

"Sixty is probably the new 40 at this point," said Sue Barkman, CEO of Third Quarter, a Winnipeg-based recruiting firm for mature job seekers. 

The non-profit offers free job searching and coaching services to people 45 and older across Canada.

Barkman said she was not prepared for the "deluge" of clients when Third Quarter launched five years ago.
Sue Barkman heads Third Quarter, a recruiting firm for mature job seekers. She said 90 per cent of clients cannot afford to retire. (CBC News)

The number of job-seekers signing up continues to grow. In the last year, more than 55,000 Canadians have signed up for their services. In Manitoba, that's roughly 8 to 10 mature workers looking for jobs every week, she said.

"We did a focus group of people of people 50 to 55 not long ago and they pointed out they have kids still in high school, kids to put through college, and they have aging parents," she said.

"These are people who say they're going to work another 20 years — easily."

The majority of job seekers turning to Third Quarter are male professionals between age 45 and 64, she said, who have typically been out of work for a year. 

"They might have tried retirement for 6 months and said 'boy this isn't working; my pension won't cover it, I just can't afford it, what do I do?' or there might be an incident of divorce or widowed," she said, adding that in roughly 90 per cent of circumstances clients cannot afford to retire.

Barkman said boomers have been "working within the myth that you retire at a certain age and should just go away," but the economy and expenses are delaying retirement, and in some cases, making it out of reach.  

Not all 'doom and gloom': expert

According to a new poll by CIBC 75 per cent of Canadians are worried about their retirement savings. 

A recent study conducted by the Broadbent Institute found the median value of retirement assets of Canadians who have an annual income of 50,000 to 100,000 is just over $3,000. And fewer than 20 per cent of middle income earners have more than five years of savings.

"Recent reports are out there are very doom and gloom," Tim Cottee, vice-president of retiree planning for Investors Group said.

"A lot of research that's out there doesn't take into account non-registered savings because it's hard to measure that."

In fact, Cottee said the vast majority of research Investors Group has done indicates that people who are working longer for financial reasons are often doing so "out of the perception of financial need rather than the reality of it" he said. 

Fluctuating markets and a low dollar tends to create a climate of fear for retirees, he said.

"I think overall, retirees are in a good place — especially the baby boom generation," said Cottee.

"What we find is if a person has a defined benefit pension plan...and they've got enough saved comparative to what they're currently earning and they're not frugal but not going to be crazy with how they're going to spend the money, they're going to be okay." 

Cottee said there is no "magic number" people need to sock away. It's a personal calculation hinging largely on how much a person plans to spend when they retire, he said. 

"If they have to work an extra year or two  — and actually do the math to figure out that — it's not a bad thing," said Cottee, noting an advisor he once worked with aid retirement is a relatively new concept and expectation. 

"[He said] if you think about your father or grandfather the concept of retirement was alien to him."

"The fact that we are talking about 'do I have enough to retire?' This state of being that was alien to a vast majority of Canadians through history and honestly the vast majority of the world today, it's not such a bad thing."

About the Author

Jill Coubrough

Reporter, CBC News

Jill Coubrough is a video journalist with CBC News based in Winnipeg. Before joining CBC Manitoba, she worked as a reporter for CBC News in Halifax and an associate producer for CBC's documentary series Land and Sea. She holds a degree in political studies from the University of Manitoba and a degree in journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax. Email: