Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Older workers and unemployment

One of the things that came out of the weekend workers' compensation conference I attended was a discussion of how difficult re-employment is for injured workers. This came up in the context of deeming, a practice by Workers' Compensation Boards whereby wage-loss compensation to injured workers is sometimes reduced based upon a deemed amount the worker is expected to earn (whether or not the worker has a job).

By coincidence, this 20-minute CBC radio documentary (called Freedom 95) arrived in my inbox. It discusses the difficulties faced by older workers who find themselves unemployed. While older workers don't have exactly the same challenges as injured workers do, they do face similar systemic barriers. The result is that they can never retire.

The documentary discussed the federal Targeted Initiatives for Older Workers (TIOW) program. This provincially delivered program ends in March (in Alberta, at least). It is unclear whether it will be renewed. If it isn't renewed, one of the knock-on effects is that those who are served may well abandon efforts to connect to the labour market and, instead, access various social benefits.

Interestingly, the TIOW is designed to serve workers up to age 64, although the need for post-65 labour market attachment assistance seems clear as many Canadians don't have adequate resources to retire.

-- Bob Barnetson

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