According to Statistics Canada, “the working-age population [in Canada] — persons aged 15 to 64 — has never been older”.
In fact, more than 20% of people that Canada categorizes as being of working age are between the ages of 55 and 64, which suggests that they are close to retirement. To speak to the general aging of Canada’s population, it is important to realize that, from 2016 to 2021, the number of children under the age of 15 grew at a pace six times slower than the number of people aged 65 and older (total of 6.0 million). This reality, along with the fact that this 55-to-64-year-old proportion of the working population (over 1 in 5) represents an all-time high in the recorded history of the Canadian census, signals that Canada’s workforce is clearly aging.
Adding to this concern is the reality that Canada’s fertility rate is below the population replacement level. The current global population replacement level stands at 2.1 children per woman. Following a trend that has continued since 2009, Canada’s fertility rate has steadily declined over time, reaching a record low of 1.4 children per woman in 2020. In 2020, Canada also experienced the lowest number of births since 2007 and the greatest year-over-year decrease in births (-3.6%) since 1997. The prevailing idea that comes with this downward turn in childbirth is that Canada is trending towards joining the countries with the “lowest-low” fertility rates (1.3 or fewer children per woman).
Together, this data suggests that the future of Canada’s natural workforce could be headed in a suboptimal direction. Statistics Canada believes that these realities may put increased stress on the labour market as well as apply added pressure on public healthcare and pension systems across the country. Accordingly, Canada must now look to other places if the country wants to continue sustaining and growing its workforce.
Thankfully, immigration should help with this goal, especially thanks to the trends revealed by Canada’s most recent census.
According to 2021 census data, nearly two-thirds of Canada’s immigrants (64.2%) between 2016 and 2021 fell into the age range that this country defines as being of core working age (25 to 54 years old).
To understand the value that Canada places on the age of skilled workers coming to this country, we can simply take a look at the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) used to score applicants within the Express Entry immigration system.
The CRS system provides applicants with a different number of points depending on their age at the time of application. The most available points for age are given to Express Entry applicants aged 20-29 (100).
Prior to the age of 20, candidates receive 0 points if they are 17 or younger, 90 points if they are 18 years old and 95 points if they are 19. For candidates aged 30 or older, the points available in the age category will progressively decrease every year from the 100 points given out to individuals aged 20-29. At 30 years of age, candidates receive CRS 95 points. For most additional years past 30, candidates lose an extra five points per year — receiving 90 points at 31 years old, 85 points at 32, 80 points at 33 and so on. This slightly changes after the age of 40 (45 points), where there is a total 10-point decrease each year — receiving 35 points at 41 years old, 25 points at 42 and 15 points at 43 — until a candidate is 44 years old (5 points). Candidates aged 45 or older receive 0 CRS points under the age category.
Considering that an increasing number of immigrants are now working in Canada, especially compared to pre-pandemic levels, the reality that most recent immigrants are of core working age means that they could be an even bigger part of Canada’s workforce development going forward. Having already been a strong contributor to the growth of Canada’s labour force — accounting for 79.9% of workforce growth between 2016 and 2021 — immigration should continue to play a large role in Canada’s prosperity as a nation.
Recent immigrants of core working age will be able to work in Canada for a long time, contributing to the country’s workforce and economic growth for many years as a result. With the average retirement age in Canada coming in at 64.4 years in 2021, and over 20% of Canada’s recent immigrants coming to this country between 30 and 34 years old, it can be reasonably expected that they will contribute to Canada’s workforce over nearly the next three decades.
Accordingly, despite worrisome national trends including an aging natural population and a low birthrate, this country’s workforce seems to be headed for a brighter future thanks to immigration and the age at which recent immigrants are coming to Canada.
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