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Seniors in the workforce: some by choice, many by necessity

Important statistics for Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and REALTOR® Gwen Price is eager to share some information that many may not know. 

Price is one of the cohosts of Ageing in Action, a TV show and podcast on ageing well in Northern Ontario. She has a certificate in gerontology, a SRES® (Seniors Real Estate Specialist®) designation and has long advocated for seniors. 

In addition, she has a video/podcast, Sudbury Talks with Gwen Price - Because We All Have A Story.  She interviewed Sudbury resident Bev Brisco to get to know more about her life story.

Brisco is well known in the community for the fundraising work she does for a number of charities. A long-time Sears employee, when the company closed and went bankrupt, she lost most of her pension. She is forced to keep working in order to cover her expenses and she continues to work even now, despite the fact that she is battling cancer and is palliative—it helps to give her a sense of purpose, she says. The Northern Cancer Foundation is one of the many charities she has raised funds for over the years, and she continues to do so, even in the midst of her own health issues. 

Brisco is not alone, as the numbers tell us. According to Census in Brief: Working seniors in Canada, by Statistics Canada, in 2015 one in five Canadians aged 65 and older—nearly 1.1 million seniors—reported working during the year. This was the highest proportion recorded since the 1981 census. Of the seniors who worked, about 30% did so full year, full-time, and the majority were men. 

The percentage of seniors who reported working nearly doubled between 1995 and 2015, with most of the increase coming from part-year or part-time work. Increases applied to men and women alike, at all ages. 

There are several reasons why seniors might continue to work. Some don’t retire because they find fulfillment in their work, want to stay engaged and mentally sharp, improve their finances in retirement and continue to support worthy causes. Those were the top reasons given for not retiring, according to a U.S. News article by Rodney Brooks on second careers.

Another article, published this month in the Windsor Star, cited a study that found that one third of Canadian seniors who rent or pay a mortgage are struggling to pay their bills.

“The first wave of Baby Boomers turned 65 in 2011 and in the ensuing years there has been a steady increase in seniors continuing to remain in the workforce,” explains Price. 

Price, a senior herself, also continues to work. “I enjoy working because I still love my career as a REALTOR® and get a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment from helping clients with their most valuable asset. I can’t imagine continuing to work if I hated what I was doing,” she admits.

Price’s husband has a pension but it isn’t large so her income helps pay for improvements to their property that would be difficult to do if she wasn’t still working. She feels fortunate that her profession doesn’t have a set “retirement age”. “As long as I am physically and mentally able to do my job, I will,” she says. 

She believes that continuing to work keeps her brain active; she keeps up to date with technology, changes in the real estate market and what is going on in the world. “As an older woman in my profession, I have never felt a bias against me because of my gender or my age. I consider myself friends with a number of my colleagues who are much younger and all genders,” she says.

If she wasn’t working in her profession, she would volunteer to help the less fortunate, so she could still socialize and feel connected. Over the years she has been involved in a number of different charities and has always found the work very fulfilling.

Says Price, “I am not a person to sit idle. I would have to have something to do. I think it is essential to stay active as long as you can.” 

According to a release from Statistics Canada in 2016, the employment rate among senior women nearly doubled over the decade between 2005 and 2015. Part-time work was more common among seniors, especially senior women. While their median income has increased, it remains lower than that of their male counterparts. 

Many older women have to continue working because their pensions are small. They either didn’t work outside the home or did jobs that were lower in income (clerical, retail, etc.). Add to that the fact that life expectancy at birth in Canada has risen substantially over the years—to 79.8 years for males and 83.9 years for females—and it’s no wonder so many can’t afford to slow down.

For more information, visit Gwen Price Homes or call 705-561-2335.