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More Canadian Women Aged 55 to 64 Enter the Workforce

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: March 13, 2023
More Canadian women aged 55+ are entering the workforce as utilities and mortgages crush the middle class
A file photo of window cleaning tools at the One Canada Square skyscraper in February of 2011 in London, England. Statistics Canada data for February of 2023 show that an increasing number of women aged 55 to 64 are entering the workforce. (Image: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

The number of Canadians aged 55 to 64 entering the workforce to make ends meet has significantly increased, according to monthly Statistics Canada data. The greatest rise in the age bracket was notable in that it was among women.

Released March 10, the Labour Force Survey showed that overall, 22,000 Canadians entered the workforce in February, mostly in the health care/social assistance, public administration, and utilities sectors.

The figure was down significantly compared to December and January reports, which found that 69,000 and 150,000 Canadians respectively entered the workforce overall during those months.


Data showed that while employment remained static among the 19 to 25 and 26 to 54 age brackets, 25,000 new workers in the 55 to 64 ages entered the workforce, “Continuing a strong upward trend since August 2022.”

Although, “Employment for both men and women aged 55 to 64 has been on a strong upward trend since August 2022,” Stats Can noted that 30,000 new women in the age group entered the workforce.

Slightly more than 6 in 10 of all Canadian women aged 55 to 64 are working, the report stated.

“Retirement decisions can be influenced by labour market conditions, financial considerations and many other factors, and may impact labour market trends for groups approaching retirement age,” the agency said.

Overall, February’s unemployment rate of 5.0 percent was just shy of the record low set in June and July of 4.9 percent.

Data showed that slightly more than 1 million Canadians were unemployed in February, with more than two-thirds having been so for 13 weeks or less.

Long term unemployment, measured by 27 weeks or more, came in at 14.4 percent, down significantly from 18.3 percent year over year.

One of the greatest drivers of the situation is likely the tax on disposable income presented by the Bank of Canada raising interest rates.

Although the BoC paused rate hikes on March 8, the reprieve was on the heels of eight straight hikes, bringing the central rate from 0.25 percent in February of 2022 to 4.5 percent by January of 2023.

In July of 2022, Vision Times reported during an article on a Royal Bank of Canada economist warning clients of an impending housing market correction that the cost of borrowing increases imposed on homeowners under a variable rate mortgage is exceptionally significant.

We calculated that, based on publicly available data, that the difference between an average rate of 2.99 percent in 2020 compared to 5.89 percent at the time on a 25-year mortgage amounted to an $800 per month difference in monthly payments on a typical $500,000 loan.

In November of 2022, Statistics Canada reported that consumer bankruptcies had ballooned by 22.5 percent in the third quarter, the largest increase in 13 years.

In October, CTV News warned Canadians that “natural gas or electricity can expect their bills to rise by between 50 and 100 per cent on average this winter” based on comments from an expert who runs a utilities rates website.

One factor involved in the increase, they stated, was the country’s escalating carbon tax.

In February, one Twitter user located in Alberta published a screenshot of her December natural gas bill, which revealed that on top of a $675.08 invoice when the commodity was approximately $6.4 CAD per gigajoule that an additional $181.21 was levied from the federal carbon tax.

The woman added that her electricity bill was an also $460 for the month.

Despite the manifestations from the recently tightening economic conditions appearing chronic, 55+-year-olds having to re-enter the workforce has been trending for years.

A 2016 article published by the Canadian Business magazine showed that October’s Labour Force Survey recorded the 55+ age bracket as having 57,000 new heads enter the workforce compared to August, and 170,000 more compared to September of 2015.

Although the article analyzed that part of the problem was an aging workforce, with the 55+ age bracket amounting to more than a third of the population, economic conditions were still an issue, “Canadians—along with Americans, Europeans, and others—are working longer in part because they haven’t saved enough for retirement.”

Based on a private firm’s economic survey at the time, Canadian Business said that “almost a third of Canadians aged 55-64 and without a company pension plan have put aside less than $1,000 for retirement.”