New Brunswick

Employers in Edmundston area turn to retired people to ease labour shortage

The Retiree Employment Agency pairs employers with retirees interested in working. The bilingual service has offices in the northwestern New Brunswick communities of Grand Falls, Edmundston and Haut-Madawaska.

Project matching employers with retirees helps fill job vacancies

Maryse Clavet left retirement to work part time at a bed-and-breakfast and is now an administrative assistant. She found her jobs through the Retiree Employment Agency in Edmundston. (Submitted by Maryse Clavet)

A year after retirement, Maryse Clavet was eager to get out of the house and back to work. 

She picked up a part-time job at a local bed-and-breakfast, doing everything from changing the sheets to checking in guests at the front desk.

"I'm still young, I'm able to work," Clavet said in French. "There's such a lack of workers in the region that I can't stay home when there's people that need me," she said in French.

Clavet, 52, retired early after a 32-year career with UNI Cooperation Financiere in Edmundston. She started as a teller at age 19, working her way through administrative positions into her final role in regional human resources.

The retiree, now back to work part-time, found a job with the help of a pilot project started by WorkNB and the Edmundston Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Retiree Employment Agency pairs employers with retirees interested in working. The bilingual service has offices in Grand Falls, Edmundston and Haut-Madawaska.

WATCH | Northwest N.B. businesses filling jobs with retirees

Why employers in the Edmundston area welcome retirees

9 months ago
Duration 2:08
The Retiree Employment Agency pairs retirees with businesses in need of extra help. More than 100 employers have signed up.

Clavet is now in her second job through the project, working as an administrative assistant for the employment agency. She initially wanted to do something different from her role at the credit union, but said she started to miss those administrative duties. 

"I was missing all my tasks and everything I was doing before," she said. "I love it. I can bring them all my experience acquired in other jobs."

Seniors asked to help

The Retiree Employment Agency started after a forum with seniors in northwest New Brunswick. During the discussion, many expressed interest in having an organization that would help them find part-time or flexible jobs.

The pilot project started in mid-2021 and so far about 80 retirees and more than 100 employers have registered. There are more job openings than people to fill them.

Marco Ruest, who runs the Retiree Employment Agency, said many retirees want to work part time for the social experience. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

Marco Ruest runs the agency and works with retirees and employers to make a good match.

"We approach employers to sell them the idea to hire some people that are over 50 and retired from their old job, with the idea that they might save on the training. Those people can help them grow their business, at least until they need a full time employee," he said.

The jobs range widely, from positions at the hospital, to retail, garages, golf courses and recreation centres.

'They are reliable'

Employers are finding advantages to hiring retirees and it's resulted in growing acceptance around hiring them.

Charles Deroches, co-owner of Excel Promo Plus in Edmundston, hired two accountants through the project to work at his embroidery and printing business. He plans to hire a third retiree.

"Their schedules are flexible so we're able to accommodate them and they're able to give us what we need," he said.

"They are reliable, they are very meticulous."

Charles Desroches has hired two retired people to work as part-time accountants at his Edmundston printing businesses. He plans to hire a third. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

Ruest said while some retirees want to earn some extra income with inflation rising, most are looking for a social experience.

"They arrive at your store or your business with their life baggage," he said. "They can give you advice. They are really welcome at businesses."

'A bit of a solution'

If the model works, the program will be expanded to other regions of New Brunswick.

Deroches said that despite extensive recruitment efforts, employees are hard to come by, particularly for part-time roles.

"We put on advertisements to try to get people to apply and it's very difficult," he said.

The Edmundston Regional Chamber is constantly hearing about the labour shortage from its members.

Cathy Pelletier of the Edmundston Region Chamber of Commerce said she hears frequently from members about the labour shortage. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

Cathy Pelletier, the chamber's executive director, said short-staffed businesses frequently need their employees to work overtime. Many have also been forced to cut business hours, or to automate if possible. Members are also turning to immigration and trying to persuade young people to return home in the long term.

She said the retiree agency has helped to fill between 35 and 40 per cent of the vacancies at employers who have signed up to participate.

"It's a positive way for us to fulfil the lack of employment in the region. We don't resolve it, but it's a bit of a solution."


Alexandre Silberman

Video journalist

Alexandre Silberman is a video journalist with CBC News based in Moncton. He has previously worked at CBC Fredericton, Power & Politics, and Marketplace. You can reach him by email at: