Early retirement on the bargaining table

This time management wants retirement incentives reversed
By Roy Stuart and Catherine Graham
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/27/2003

It wasn’t that long ago that “freedom 55” was a goal of both management and labour. Many employers provided early retirement incentives to help reduce — or, in some cases, renew — their workforces. Unions successfully pressed for rule changes to provide earlier access to employee pensions. Changes in government policy reinforced the trend by dropping the age at which people could access public pensions. And workers began thinking of retirement as the start of a new life, rather than the end of their usefulness.

Recently, however, there has been a rising chorus of concern about the future of the labour market in Canada — specifically, apprehension regarding an impending shortage of experienced workers. This fear is well-founded. Consider the following data from Statistics Canada:

•There has been a steady decline in the median retirement age of workers from 64.9 years in the late 1970s to 62.2 years in the early 1990s to 61.0 years in the late 1990s.