Some sectors in Canada are seeing a wave of retirements. Burnout might be why

Canada is facing a wave of retirements driven by workers in high-pressure areas, with increasing numbers retiring before the age of 65.

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A new analysis of labor force survey data by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that 73,000 more people retired in the year ending August 2022 than a year earlier, a 32 percent jump.

Two-thirds of those additional retirements were in four industries: health care, construction, retail, and education and social assistance.


Senior economist David McDonald said it is extremely unusual to see retirements at this level. But a closer look at some of the industries in question paints a picture of burnout, stress and the ongoing pandemic-related hardships that cause workers to retire earlier than they planned.

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McDonald’s said retirement is expected to increase gradually as baby boomers retire, with 2022 seeing a clear spike.

“It is very focused on a few specific areas, which makes it more of a short-term trend,” he said.

McDonald found that the retirement wave started earlier in 2022. By April 2022, retirements in health care had nearly doubled in a year, with 19,000 more retirements than the year before.

Macdonald said this likely means there is a wave of highly skilled nurses out of the profession, perhaps due to burnout after two years of the pandemic.

Canada’s most populous province is also riding a retirement wave, with less than 40 percent of Canadian workers making up 66 percent of additional retirements in the year ended August. Teachers retired in large numbers; Two-thirds of retirements in education were in Ontario.

Retirement in teaching followed this trend in the year ending August; Of the 73,000 additional retirements, 21,000 were in education services.

Macdonald said that wage increases in Ontario’s public sector, restricted by Bill 124, could be a factor in health care and education workers’ decision-making.

“There is a breaking point,” he said.

“Those professions have not returned to normal. They are quite different from the way they were in 2019. ,

In the year ending June, additional retirements in the retail business peaked with an additional 13,000 workers. In July, it was the construction that saw the retirement.

It is not just the boomer generation that is contributing to this wave. McDonald said that surprisingly, workers under the age of 65 are retiring early.

In August 2021, the largest age group to retire was between 65 and 69, accounting for 38 per cent of total retirements. A year later, that group made up 33 percent of the retiring workers, while the next smallest group of workers aged 60 to 64 had risen three percentage points to 31 percent. Retirements also increased among workers 55 to 59.

“People are retiring, not because they’re hitting 65, they’re retiring for some other reason,” Macdonald said.

There was a wave of retirements even at the start of the pandemic, as many workers chose to retire early rather than pass through unemployment, he said.

McDonald said that if Canada goes into recession, the same could happen in some sectors, such as finance or real estate.

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