The Need


The Aging Workforce in Manitoba

Canada’s and Manitoba’s workforce are aging rapidly; consequently, older workers (45-65+) will increasingly make up a larger portion of the workforce. In addition to demographic changes and increased retirement age contributing to this change, there are some people who will both want and need to remain in the workforce past 65 years.  

The changing labour force demographic impacts the labour force supply and employers’ abilities to secure and maintain a skilled workforce. Many organizations will need to better understand the challenges of an aging workforce and how to provide a safe and healthy workplace for them. This includes aspects of workplace culture, such as age-based discrimination.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2019 projections, population aging will continue in the coming years.

  • Those aged 45 to 69 make up approximately 31% of Manitoba’s population.
  • Over the next two decades, the proportion of seniors aged 65 years and over in the population is projected to grow rapidly as the large baby-boom (1946 to 1965) cohort reaches age 65 and over.
  • By 2030, the year in which the youngest baby boomers will reach age 65, close to one in four persons in Canada will be aged 65 years or over compared with 15.3% in 2013.
  • During the same period, the working-age population—persons aged 15 to 64 years, most of them being in the labour force—would decrease according to all projection scenarios from 68.6% in 2013 to about 60% in 2030. This further demonstrates the increasing importance of retaining healthy workers.

While the composition of Manitoba’s workforce has decreased, or remained stable for most age groups as projected, it has already increased for both men and women in the 55 to 64 and 65 and over groups according to the 2016 census. 

  • The 55 to 64 age group shows the most significant increase from 15.5% in 2011 to nearly 17% in 2016, the latest year the data is available.
  • The MB Bureau of Statistics tells us that the employment participation rate for male workers 55 to 64 has already risen to nearly 75% in 2019 from 68% in 2011 and is at 65% overall.


At the same time, Statistics Canada projects the population of Manitoba will increase over the next 25 years according to all projection scenarios, with gains mostly driven by immigration. This suggests a further employment of older workers as newcomers may often be employed in jobs with no pensions or do not have the required number of years to retire early or even at age 65 while often supporting an extended family. 

With an overall decrease in the labor force in general, there will be a challenge for employers attempting to maintain or grow a business. There is a mutual benefit to recruiting and retaining healthy older workers. While the idea of early retirement may be attractive to some, the current reality suggests most people will either need or want to continue working. Pension plans have changed, investment income has been an issue for many and many with lower incomes don’t have access to either of these. As well, with better health care and improved treatments for chronic illnesses, many older workers are healthy and active and wish to remain in the workforce.

There are of course legal requirements under Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act for employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace including training and education as well as general and specific job orientation. These workplace protections apply equally to every worker. But all workers are not the same. There are differences in size, strength, age, sex, health status, and other factors that affect people's risk from hazards on the job. Since the Act intends to protect workers equally across this varied spectrum of characteristics, including age, it follows that workplaces will need to adapt and change to accommodate their aging workforce.

Thus, there are legal, economic, and social benefits to both employers and workers to develop programs to support the safety and health of their aging workforce.