Showing posts with label Jim Flaherty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jim Flaherty. Show all posts

Ottawa starting to tackle rapidly aging workforce with renewed urgency

Government Convention Centre (formely Ottawa U...Image via Wikipedia
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the highest levels of the public service are immersed in a flurry of closed-door talks aimed at tackling the rising costs of health care and retirement benefits in the face of a shrinking number of working-age taxpayers available to foot the bill.
Internal government documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show Canada’s aging population is no longer a problem on the horizon, but rather one that will impact the federal government this year. It's a challenge Ottawa is now discussing more openly and with added urgency.
This week Mr. Flaherty kicked off a policy retreat with business and policy leaders in Wakefield, Que., by saying he wanted the discussion to focus on how Canada can position itself now for the longer term – listing “Canada’s rapidly aging workforce” as an issue that shouldn’t be overshadowed by the current focus on wildly fluctuating stock markets.
“The need to address current challenges must not keep us from tackling the key questions that affect our future prosperity,” he said.
The Finance Minister has offered few hints as to how he will approach forthcoming negotiations with the provinces over health-transfer arrangements, which need to be renewed. Provinces – and ultimately Ottawa – face rising health costs as older Canadians will make greater use of the system.
Documents obtained by The Globe show Mr. Flaherty has been receiving regular briefings on “transfer renewal” from his deputy minister for months, but offer no sense as to Ottawa's negotiating position.
Canada, currently the 27th oldest country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, is on track to become the 11th oldest within 20 years. It’s a challenge that will spark debate over Canada’s retirement age, fertility rates and immigration, while risking generational tension between a growing population of older voters and a shrinking pool of younger taxpayers.
Last November, Canada’s most senior public servant, Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters, invited deputy ministers from across the government for a meeting on demographics in Ottawa’s Langevin Block. There they reviewed a draft report on the impacts of Canada’s aging population. Unlike past warnings on the topic, this report did not paint it as a problem looming in the distance.
“The oldest baby boomers start to turn 65 in 2011, meaning the dependency ratio will start to increase significantly in a matter of months,” states the draft report, which was obtained in redacted form by The Globe under Access to Information.
Prepared by officials at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Finance Canada, the report is full of alarming statistics. It also lays out several measures the government could take to limit the impact, including incentives to boost fertility rates, bring in younger immigrants and encourage Canadians to work longer.
“A Canada where seniors outnumber children is uncharted territory,” the report states.
When asked about the report, Alyson Queen, press secretary to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, listed recent government measures to encourage older Canadians to stay in the workforce.
“Our Government has done more to support older workers than any before,” she said in an e-mail.
Monte Solberg, who preceded Ms. Finley as Human Resources minister and retired from politics in October, 2008, said incentives for older workers were among the easiest options – politically speaking – available to the Conservatives in the face of an aging population.
Now, he says, the government will have to consider the hard ones, like raising the retirement age – a move so controversial he says it would likely require a Royal Commission to build public support.
Even more pressing are the upcoming negotiations on health-care transfers to the provinces, which currently grow at six per cent a year under the Canada Health Transfer Program that expires in fiscal 2013-14.
“It’s a very real problem,” said Mr. Solberg in an interview. “It’s easily the largest unfunded liability that we have, without question, because we have this wave coming at us [and] there’s no extra money that’s set aside to address it.”
By the numbers
Percentage of Canadians by 2036 who will be over the age of 65
Ratio of workers to seniors in Newfoundland in 2010
Ratio of workers to seniors in Newfoundland by 2050
Percentage of Quebec’s population that is seniors
Percentage of Quebec’s population that will be seniors in 30 years
Source: Canada’s Changing Demographics: The Impacts of Population Aging, a draft internal HRSDC report marked secret and dated Oct. 27, 2010, that was circulated in advance of a Nov. 3 meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Deputy Ministers.

Canada popular with Irish expats in 2011

Irish DancingImage by wburris via Flickr

Catherine Deshayes

An aging population and low birth rate means that Canada needs expats more than ever with high immigration levels likely in 2011, according to government officials...
The country expects to have between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2011, the same as for 2010, said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
‘Canada's post recession economy demands a high level of legal immigration to keep our workforce strong,' he said. All of the country's labour force growth will come from immigration within the next five years, according to the ministry.
Some 25% of newcomers are destined for provinces other than Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, compared to 11% in 1997, with the Federal Skilled Worker Programme expected to be the most popular means of entry. It admits a range of workers, including technicians, skilled tradespersons, managers and professionals.
Anecdotal evidence suggest that there will be a significant influx of Irish expats as more and more people search for jobs abroad due to the country's financial crisis and Canada has always been popular with the Irish.
Irishman Eamonn O'Loghlin has set up an online job seekers website with support from the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) to help Irish people find jobs and move to Canada. He also publishes a magazine for Irish expats in Canada.
With Canada emerging from the global recession in good shape, it is an increasingly popular destination among young people, says O'Loghlin. The Irish will always receive a good welcome here, he says, making special mention of the Canadian finance minister, Jim Flaherty, who is descended from Irish stock.
He advises young immigrants to be professional, to be prepared and to look the part. ‘Make sure the first two or three sentences in the CV grab the reader because the competition is fierce. You've got to be better than the rest.'
Those looking for jobs in Canada include mechanical engineers, IT system analysts, construction managers (the Irish construction sector has been particularly badly hit in the downturn), accountants and marketing executives.
Irish companies are also increasingly looking to the Canadian market, which has shown a lot of resilience in the face of the global economic crisis. More than 220 Irish companies now sell goods and services into Canada, and over 45 Irish companies operate offices and facilities in Canada, according to the ICCC.
Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, has just led the largest Irish trade mission in history to Canada, visiting Edmonton, Toronto and Ottowa. The focus of the mission was to increase the profile and highlight the achievements of world-class Irish companies who have successfully broken into the Canadian market.
The trade mission cantered around 35 high tech Irish companies who are doing business in Canada and many of companies have secured high profile deals and partnerships worth over €10 million. Bilateral trade between Ireland and Canada is expected to increase by €80 million this year, and sales into Canada by Irish companies have trebled in the past five years.
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