Long gone are the days when 60-year-old workers were left on the “service road” while waiting for their pension! Businesses are vying for these experienced workers who could help Quebec deal with its severe labor shortage.
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“This category of workers can make a difference if we find the right ways to do things, the appropriate arrangements to support them,” Karl Blackburn, president of the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), said during an interview with The newspaper.
The employers’ association has been racking its brains for months to deal with the labor shortage. There are currently more than 250,000 job vacancies in Quebec.
“We’re fishing in an empty lake! In some cases we are seeing worker displacement rather than networking,” explains Mr Blackburn.
“In all regions, employers are using new methods to tackle the labor and housing shortage. Employers have become real estate agents, these are not pranks,” he says.
Closing the gap with Ontario
For a number of years, companies have been encouraged to robotize and automate, to reskill employees, to use foreign temporary workers. But according to CPQ, it could also be possible to solve a third of Quebec’s shortage by retaining or recruiting people over 60.
“If we had the same employment rate for 60-69 year olds as Ontario, that would be between 75 and 90,000 more workers than we have in the Quebec job market,” says Mr. Blackburn.
But to do that, employers need to change their ways and listen. “We will develop best practices to retain and attract these employees,” he promises.
The CPQ is also launching a major project called “Séduction 60-69 ans” to develop tools to keep or hire these workers.
Over a period of two years, the organization will list the best practices with around thirty companies (see below) to develop a guide and wants to help around 60 of them in the most affected sectors (construction, manufacturing, retail, accommodation and hospitality).
While waiting for the guidance to be published, Mr Blackburn believes employers must make efforts to keep their workers aged 60 and over employed, particularly by introducing short-time work.
“We’ve found that it’s much easier to retain workers than it is to bring them back into the labor market, that’s a clear observation,” he explains.
The CPQ notes that workers in Quebec retire at age 62, two years earlier than the Canadian average.
“Has that to do with the culture of freedom 55? I dont know. But we will have to reconsider or reconsider this element. We used to plan to retire at 65 because life expectancy was 70-75 years. But you can live to be 85 years old there. We may need to rethink our model,” he believes.
A few weeks ago, Labor Secretary Jean Boulet closed the door on raising the retirement age to 67 in Quebec.
“We continue to examine our options, particularly in terms of taxation, but at the moment there are no plans to raise the retirement age,” he stressed.
Contacted by The newspaperthe Minister’s Office supports the seduction process of 60-69 year olds.
“All market partners must commit to integrating and retaining more experienced workers. They have valuable know-how and experience for companies,” the minister said via email.
Although this is considered insufficient by employers, the CAQ government has established a career extension tax credit and a targeted initiative for older workers.
People over 60 and the lack of staff in a few figures
- Vacancies in Quebec 1: 253,000
- Positions to be filled by 20302 : 1.4 Million
activity rate of 60-69 years old
- In Ontario: 42.7%
- In Quebec: 36%
inactive population in Quebec 3
- 60-64 years: 300,900 people
- 65-69 years: 426,100 people
1. May 2022
2. According to Quebec government forecasts
3. In March 2022
The most important measures to please 60 to 69 year olds
- Schedule adapted to the needs of workers (week of 1-2-3 days)
- Employer flexibility
- Reduce or adjust workload
- Respond to workers’ needs
- Do not schedule overtime
- Attract experienced workers with an attractive tax system
Reduced week and flexible hours to maintain the experience
In times of staff shortages, one rarely encounters companies that are not short of employees. This is the case of Ultima Fenestration, an SME in Saint-Georges de Beauce with 84 employees that has managed to retain the most experienced employees.
Photo courtesy of Ultima Fenestration
David Pauline. Director of Ultima Fenestration
“I’m knocking on wood, but right now I have all the staff I need,” said David Poulin, the company’s director of operations and human resources, during an interview with the protocol.
The SME, founded 17 years ago, relies on foreign temporary workers, but also on people over 60 years of age.
“Your 9 hours are expensive”
“We had employees who were retiring. They gave to society and they are often grandparents. So we have to allow them to enjoy their family time. What we did internally, we told them: “Tell me what you can give me and we’ll take it,” explains Mr. Poulin.
There are currently 7 experienced employees in the company. Some work part-time or one day a week.
“We have a 60-year-old worker doing maintenance. He only had one day to give us. We told him, “We’ll take it! Your nine hours are expensive now!” explains the manager.
Accept atypical models
In another case, a 71-year-old worker, Hilaire Bergeron, wanted to be able to work in a sugar shack in the late winter and early spring. The company accepted this atypical schedule, to the seventy-year-old’s delight.
“I stop on the holidays, rest a little, and then go to the cabin and put the torches in the notches. They call me the lumberjack! There isn’t a youngster who can follow me,” he says, laughing.
Then, after he’s sugared off, he returns to work at the factory. For all the gold in the world, he wouldn’t change his schedule.
“The world calls me crazy for keeping working. But for me, stopping work means dying standing up. They say to me, “You’re still fast!” But I’m pedalling, I’m going fast,” he said.
He was a frame builder for several years. In the last two years his employer has relieved him and he is assembling parts.
“I’ll stay as long as I can stand! I said to the boys: “Even with a walker, if I have to, I can come to work!” the brave worker assures.
Flexibility remains the key to retaining or recruiting these employees.
“It is certain that it is necessary to take a high school diploma in Tetris with the timetables, but the Beaucerons is capable!” starts Mr. Poulin.
It is also necessary to respect the wishes of employees and not to push their limits.
“If I have overtime, I don’t ask her. They will say yes to me, but they may walk away afterwards. They don’t want to do 60 hours. They must be respected. You have to estimate the time they are there,” he explains.
- Hear Olivier Bourque, business journalist, on Yasmine Abdefadel’s mic on QUB radio: