The picture and experience of work and retirement are continuously changing in Canada and will likely continue to change into the future with the aging of the population. There are two pictures of work in older age presented in the literature: a positive and enriching picture and a picture that highlights the challenges facing some older workers. The positive and enriching picture focuses on the experiences of older individuals who are able to continue working if they want to work and are able to work; those who continue working because they are motivated by work rather than pay or new opportunities for growth; and, older workers who are appreciated for their skill and education. However, these positive experiences are not shared by all older workers. For some, working at older ages is motivated by financial survival rather than personal pleasure. This financial insecurity may have occurred due to a work displacement in mid-life or the inability to secure stable and non-precarious employment throughout the life course. Some older workers may find it challenging to find new work if they are unskilled or lack up-to-date skills. Many older workers may want to continue working but are unable to do so as a result of personal health circumstances or disability, lack of accommodations in the workplace, or caregiving responsibilities. Others who want to work may face discrimination in the labour market due to ageism. As the population ages and new generations reach old age with varying work trajectories, alongside changes in policies surrounding public pension plans, the need for a better understanding of new experiences of work and retirement is more important now than ever.

The key areas of focus in this report are experiences of employment for older workers and work-retirement transitions. This report addresses the need to redefine the terms “older worker” and “retirement”, due to their shifting meanings over time. The implications of the 2008 recession on older workers are also discussed. The report concludes by discussing the impact of policy reforms on older workers.