Addressing the impact of Canada's aging workforce
With Canada’s large baby boomer demographic getting older and older, now is the time for legal experts, business managers and policy makers to start addressing the impact of Canada’s aging workforce.
“This issue is timely and pressing for all workplaces. It’s a two-sided issue affecting both young and old employees,” says Professor Banks, the director of Queen’s Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace, who also teaches in Queen’s University’s law school.
The news that the Prime Minister Stephen Harper is planning to raise the Old Age Security benefits from 65 to 67 garnered a lot of headlines but there are less obvious issues that don’t get media attention.
An aging workforce will result in more employees with disabilities – so how far should companies go to help employees with age-related health issues? Companies are creating two-tier workplaces where entry-level workers are getting inferior wages and pay more into underfunded employee pensions plans than older workers. Will there be increases in age-related discrimination cases because of the glut of older workers?
“These issues are coming whether we like it or not and I don’t see a lot of policy movement on them. There is a lot of discussion but we haven’t landed on a set of solutions as employers are experimenting with difference approaches,” says Professor Banks.
Many of these age-related workforce problems will be discussed at an upcoming CLWC conference entitled “Shades of Grey: Law and Aging in the Contemporary Workplace Conference.” The event, which takes place in Toronto, will feature a keynote address by Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell.
The CLWC recently received a $250,000 gift from the law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. The gift will help Queen’s develop courses and research into the field of workplace law, which is of growing importance to Canadians as our workforce ages.