Survey provides insight into older workers' thinking about work and retirement

The clear majority of older workers planning to retire at the age of 65 from both their job and the labour force.

Ottawa (15 November 2010) – Statistics Canada today released its Canadian Survey of Older Workers which provides some context of how recent retirees have approached retirement and examined the factors that influence the decision-making process involved in choosing between work and retirement or some middle-ground. The survey was conducted in the fall of 2008 with date being collected from more than 10,000 respondents.

With ongoing uncertainty clouding the economic environment and the long awaited retirement of older Canadians from the labour force moving into high speed, it is difficult to gauge how labour market adjustments and possible changes to pension programs will influence the decisions of older Canadian workers with regard to the work-retirement balance. The report, however, does provide some insight into how older workers in Canada (50 to 75) are thinking about work and retirement.

Some of the key findings from the survey are:

  • Five million Canadians between the age of 50 and 75 were working or had worked in the previous 2 years.
  • There is a significant difference between older workers and the general working age population in the proportion working as paid employees versus those who were self-employed.
  • Self-employed older workers have a larger percentage at the lowest income level, but, unlike the other categories, the self-employed also have a larger percentage at the very highest earning category.
  • Of the older workers who were unemployed, nearly half (48%) believed that their unemployment would not affect the timing of their retirement and they would still retire as planned. Twenty-seven percent (27%) believed they would retire sooner due to their unemployment, and 25% believed their retirement plans would be delayed.
  • Over twelve percent of the Older Workers (657,000 Canadians) reported having lost a job due to displacement (a job loss due to layoff, plant/business closure or downsizing) since the age of 50.
  • Eighty-two percent (82%) of older workers who looked for work right after their displacement found employment.
  • Of those who returned to work after their displacement, almost half reported earning significantly less (at least 25% less) than their previous position.
  • Of those older workers who were currently working and never retired, over half (54%) indicated plans to continue working part-time after retirement.
  • Eighty-eight percent (88%) of public sector workers indicated that they would be receiving a workplace pension in retirement, dropping to just 40% for private sector workers.
  • One third of older workers are unclear as to the requirements surrounding the relationship between labour force status and access to their CPP / QPP benefits.
  • The survey data indicated that the clear majority of older workers planning to retire at the age of 65 from both their job and the labour force.
  • Not surprisingly the most important reason for “first retirement” was financial readiness (30%).
  • Looking at the sources of retirement income the “primary” planned source would be workplace pensions, though the majority of older workers clearly indicated that CPP / QPP (96%) would be a part of their income stream in retirement.
  • It was also determined in the survey that only 44% of respondents currently working plan to draw their CPP / QPP at age 60.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:

First Results from the Survey of Older Workers, 2008


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