Premier Moe says many job opportunities coming in Sask. as Canada's workforce faces record retirements

Canada’s workforce is aging at a record-breaking rate, which could lead to both challenges and opportunities in Saskatchewan.

Opposition says province not ready for aging population

Premier Scott Moe speaks with reporters after question period on Wednesday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Canada's workforce is aging at a record-breaking rate, which could lead to both challenges and opportunities in Saskatchewan.

The country's working-age population — which includes people aged 15 to 64 — has never been so weighted to the older side, according to Statistics Canada's recent census report.

More than one in five people in the working-age population is close to retirement — aged 55 to 64 — which is an all-time high in the history of Canadian censuses.

"The aging of many baby boomer cohorts, the youngest of whom are between 56 and 64 years today, is accelerating population aging," the report says.

There are also more people aged 55 to 64 than people aged 15 to 24 — which is when people typically start working.

Premier Scott Moe said he wasn't able to go over the census report before speaking with reporters after question period on Wednesday, but that more job opportunities will lead to more people relocating to Saskatchewan.

"What we are going to see in this province over the course of the next number of months, the next few years, is significant growth in opportunity for jobs and careers," he said.

"You're going to see people moving here, moving their families here to fill those careers and fill those jobs, and I think Saskatchewan most certainly has a number of years of very strong growth potential ahead of it."

He said that, in particular, industries like construction, agriculture, forestry and potash will be looking for workers. 

The StatsCan report says there are some challenges associated with an older workforce, such as retaining experienced employees, passing down knowledge to new employees and workforce renewal.

Also, most of the country is seeing high job vacancies and historically low unemployment, which indicates a challenge in filling current job positions, let alone vacancies that could open up from a record-amount of retirees.

Preparing for aging population

Saskatchewan has one of the youngest populations in the country, according to the report. It is one of three provinces where children under the age of 15 outnumber people aged 65 and older. Manitoba and Alberta are the other two. 

However, people aged 65 and older are expected to outnumber children under 15 by 2036.

To start preparing for that, Minister of Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Everett Hindley said the province will continue to invest in long-term care and work with groups who advocate on behalf of seniors.

In its latest budget, the province announced a $17-million increase to support for seniors, ncluding $4.8 million for home care services and $6.5 million for an additional 117 continuing care aide positions.

However, Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said the province isn't taking the aging population seriously.

"Over the last two years, the problems in long-term care, the lack of home care, have been displayed in such a very clear way and yet no action has been taken whatsoever to try to address that," he said on Wednesday.

"We still don't have a seniors advocate in the province — something we and the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism have been advocating for for years."

Meili said the province also needs to do more to recruit and retain health-care workers.

"One thing they shouldn't be doing is chasing away doctors and nurses. That seems to be a bad strategy," he said.

Several health-care professionals have recently left the province or stepped down from their positions, while others have said they're considering leaving or reducing their hours due to burnout or how the province has handled the pandemic.


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