Monday, January 12, 2009

Canada: Study Finds Current Economic Downturn Will Not Solve Demographic Problems; Governments Must Switch Gears

The current economic slowdown may help ease, but will not stop the coming shortage of
available workers in Nova Scotia, specificially, and in Canada, generally. According to the report "The Developing Workforce Problem: Confronting Canadian Labour Shortages in the Coming Decades" prepared by Dalhousie University Professor Emeritus Dr. Jim McNiven for the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), Canada would need "a sustained recession over some 20 years to cope with the demographic crunch we have created for ourselves."

The combination of the baby boom generation aging and hitting traditional retirement age, the decline in birth rates, the failure of immigration to pick up the slack, and stagnant productivity mean that government policy must be overhauled. Programs that helped boomers, such as job creation, employment insurance, and nearly retirement all helped open jobs for the boomers are no longer what is needed. Instead, McNiven suggests a combination of approaches to alleviate the pending crisis:
  • better immigration and child care policies to increase the population;
  • encourage an increase in the productivity rate; and
  • increase the labour force participation rate by reaching out to segments of the population with traditional low rates and encourage people to stay working beyond "Freedom 55."
Sources: Atlantic Institute for Market Studies Media Release (January 7, 2009); Halifax Chronicle Herald "Freedom 85, or why you’ll work forever" (January 10, 2009)

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