TORONTO – Glamorous grannies, women surpassing men in school despite being trapped in “traditional” jobs, taking the ferry to work?
It may sound like the makings of a Canadian reality TV show, but it’s actually the highlights from the latest release of Statistics Canada data from the National Household Survey, formerly the long-form census.
First, the good news.
Canada’s seniors are keeping active with some rather glamorous jobs after they hit 75. Some are shining off their dance shoes and hitting the stage, mixing cocktails behind the bar, and a few are working as masseuses. Despite a mandatory retirement age below 75, some say they still serve in the military.
But if you’re looking for circus performers, magicians, models, puppeteers or flight attendants, you won’t find your grandparents.
Things are also looking up for Canada’s First Nations communities: more are choosing a post-secondary education as a way to improve their lives, whether they are just out of high school or going back to school at an older age. More than four in 10 First Nations people aged 25 to 64 had some sort of post-secondary qualification according to this latest data, and the number of people at post-secondary school in Saskatchewan alone was up 2,000 people from five years earlier.
“There’s the saying, ‘Education is the new buffalo,’ because historically the buffalo gave us food, clothing and shelter, and now as First Nations and Metis people, we need to look to education to give us those things,” College of Medicine aboriginal co-ordinator Valerie Arnault-Pelletier said.
When it comes to gender differences in education, this survey’s data shows the first time women have bypassed men in overall educational attainment, with the gender gap growing dramatically as the level of education increases. More working-age women than men now hold university degrees and medical degrees, but this doesn’t seem to be reflected in the workplace.
Women overwhelmingly dominate the fields of childcare, administrative assistants, nursing and cashiers…though for the first time, the most common job for both sexes is retail sales.
But nearly two-thirds of adults in Canada reported having post-secondary qualifications in 2011, up from 60.7 per cent in 2006, and significantly higher than the four per cent in 1961.
And now for the bad news…
Experts fear Canada is becoming dependent on foreign workers, despite the fact that 1.4 million people in Canada are jobless, out of a total eligible workforce of 18 million. More than 330,000 workers now live and work in Canada as part of the federal temporary foreign worker program, and it’s a figure that has nearly tripled over the last decade.
“The way the rules work, you’re supposed to only have temporary foreign workers if you cannot find Canadians to fill the position,” said Jason Foster, an academic who has researched the program. “However, we now know that that didn’t happen. The numbers levelled off for a year or two, and continued to rise.”
The NHS data suggests that Atlantic Canadians are being lured west by high-paying jobs, and concerns the trend will worsen have been heightened by controversial changes to the employment insurance system. Alberta’s 69 per cent employment rate was among the highest in Canada last year, while Newfoundland and Labrador came in dead last at 50.7 per cent. Alberta also reported the largest proportion of workers who had been living in a different province five years earlier.
So you’ve had the good, the bad and now for something that can go either way: your commute.
Global News reporter Laura Stone writes on the thousands of Canadians who are taking the ferry to work: in an age of highways and Hummers, 6,445 Canadians have to cross water to make it to the office. Most live in British Columbia, and average ferry time is the longest of any public transit commute, at 48.6 minutes each way.
Of course most Canadians are still driving cars to work, with the longest drives in Toronto (32.8 minutes) Oshawa, Ont. (31.8 minutes) and Montreal (29.7 minutes), slightly less than the longest average time in the United States reported in New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (34.7 minutes).
And when it comes to the number of Canadians cycling to work, there’s been no difference in the percentage of Canadians who reported riding their bike to work in 2011 and 2006. The figure remains at 1.3 per cent, which amounts to 201,785 cyclists out of more than 15 million commuters.
“We know that younger people are more likely to cycle to work. But at the same time, the population is aging, so it’s possible that there’s a structural effect of population aging on this trend,” said Martin Turcotte, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada.
With files from Laura Stone and The Canadian Press