By The Numbers: The job outlook for 2036

Ottawa – May 1, 2019 – A recent report from Statistics Canada projects that over the next 17 years, the percentage of people over the age of 15 who are working or looking for work (known as the participation rate) will drop. One reason is the aging population, as baby boomers reach retirement. Another reason is, that on average, people are having less children than they used to. So, with more people retiring and fewer people entering the job market, this decline in the participation rate could lead to a lack of available workers in certain communities (and already has in some).

The decrease in the available workforce would be even greater except for two factors: immigration to Canada, as well as tens of thousands of older workers who are delaying their retirement, mostly because they need the income.

This trend in dropping participation rates will be more pronounced in Quebec outside the large metropolitan area of Montréal and in rural areas of the Atlantic provinces, where the populations are aging faster, and immigration is lower.

• The number of people in the Canadian labour force (including persons who are employed or unemployed) is expected to continue to increase, from 19.7 million in 2017 to 22.9 million in 2036.

• However, the overall participation rate is expected to decrease from 66% in 2017 to 63% or less in 2036, mainly because of population aging.

• In big Canadian cities, high immigration as well as young adults moving to those cities will counter the effects of population aging. By 2036, the ratio of younger workers to non-working seniors could be at least three-to-one in Montréal, close to four-to-one in Toronto, and close to five-to-one in Calgary and Edmonton.

• New families to Canada are a vital factor in maintaining the size of the workforce. In 2016, foreign-born Canadian workers accounted for one-quarter of the total Canadian labour force. By 2036, foreign-born individuals could represent more than one-third of the Canadian labour force.

• More older workers are working longer. Among those aged 60 to 64, the participation rate rose from 43% in 1995 to 61% in 2017 among men, and from 23% to 49% among women over the same period.

• At the national level, older workers could make up more than 25% of the labour force in 2036, compared with 21% in 2017. By contrast, in 1976, 11% of the labour force was over the age of 55.

• In Atlantic Canada, outside the major cities, 32% of the labour force could be aged 55 or older by 2036.

SOURCE: Martel, L. (2019, March 20). Statistics Canada: The labour force in Canada and its regions: Projections to 2036. Retrieved from: