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Health Care

Baby Boomers and the Job Boom

Canada is on the cusp of a major change.  The first wave of our country’s aging baby boomers is about to turn 65.  With this milestone birthday comes retirement, of course, along with a host of challenges that will dramatically transform the country.  Most significantly, mass retirement will have a striking impact upon employment and health care in Canada. 

As Canadians enter their golden years, they will be turning to the medical community to keep them healthy.  In fact, over the next twenty five years, the passage of about 10 million boomers into retirement will present both major challenges and opportunities for our country’s medical system. From dental work to x-rays to in-home support, these new Canadian seniors will be creating a significant demand for health care across the board. 

In addition to the increased need for health care, as older workers retire, the mass retirement will create openings for advancement and entry into jobs previously held by boomers.  In short, the swell in the senior population spells out security for workers in the health care industry and opportunity for students seeking a future with good prospects. 
According to Jobfutures.ca, Canada’s National Career and Education planning tool, a number of occupations in the health care industry have been given the “Good Prospect” stamp of approval.  By “Good”, the government of Canada is indicating that new entrants into that particular field have “a relatively easy time finding permanent employment in targeted occupations with relatively high pay or attractive labour market conditions.” 

Of the forty or so occupations listed as “Good” prospects for 2009, over half are in the health care industry.  As the country prepares for the upcoming 25 years of boomer retirement and its accompanying need for increased health care, this number can only be expected to rise-good news for current and potential health care workers.
So what are some of the careers that stand to prosper from this mass retirement?  We’ll take a look at three of these rising-star careers to learn more about the nature of the work, the education required and what one can expect to earn while contributing to this booming field.

Dental Assistant

Dental assistants can perform a number of duties in support of a dentist.  These can include polishing teeth, applying fluoride, preparing patients for dental examinations, preparing dental instruments and taking x-rays.  Dental assistants require training in a college program and, in all provinces but Quebec, licensing is mandatory.  Once graduated, Dental assistants can expect to earn about $16.51 per hour.  The growth of employment for this field is above average and expected to remain as such due, not only to the aging population, but also to the increase in Canadians with insurance coverage and improvements in dental technology.

Pharmacy  Assistant
Pharmacy assistants assist pharmacists by preparing, packaging and labeling pharmaceutical products.  They also verify prescriptions, maintain patient records and monitor inventories of medications and pharmaceutical products.  Pharmacy assistants require completion of secondary school and a college program in Pharmacy Assistant or Pharmacy Technician training.  Once completed, a Pharmacy Assistant can expect to earn an hourly wage of about $14.51. 

Nurse (Nurse Aide)
Nurse Aides attend to the needs of patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities.  They may be involved in answering call signals, serving meals, take patient’s blood pressure, collect fluid specimens, maintain inventory of supplies and perform maintenance tasks such as cleaning and sterilizing equipment.  A Nurse Aide usually requires a college program with practical, on-the-job training.  Once graduated, a Nurse Aide can expect to earn about $14.77 per hour. 

The next few years will bring many changes with them.  For those Canadians thinking about jobs and what education or training they need for a prosperous future, it’s important to consider the effects of phenomena like the baby boomers.  A growing and aging population that requires more health services coupled with new vacancies in these fields present a positive outlook for health care jobs. The three fields highlighted here give an idea of solid directions for students considering a new career in Canada but they are just a selection of the many opportunities that will be opening over the next few years.  This period may be the end of work for some but it can be the beginning of a long and happy career for others. 

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