Dear Nurse Kris;
I’m a 75-year-old fellow who wants and needs work but can’t find anything suitable. My wife died 7 years ago. My CPP just isn’t enough to cover my monthly expenses anymore. I want to work, and I really need to work.
I’m fit, I’m in the gym a couple of times a week and can outrun just about any kid of 40 on the treadmill...they call me the Energizer Bunny. I like to be around people, shower daily and brush my teeth and wear clean pressed clothes, and although I’ve gone to interviews for jobs that I’ve done in the past, no one wants to hire me. I feel like I’m being discriminated against because of my obvious age. I know I’m not a spring chicken but I used to own a security business in Vancouver, and boy do I know the business! I sold it for a pretty tidy sum and it’s still going great guns today. A lot of that money went to provide care for my wife when she had cancer, because she wanted to obtain treatment for her Cancer in another country. It was expensive and drained our savings. There isn’t anything in the security business that I don’t know how to do. I know I’m not supposed to tell people my age unless, and until, they hire me, so I don’t, but it doesn’t even get to that stage. I live in an apartment building with lots of other people my own age, but my rent goes up every year, my heat bills are 45% higher than they were five years ago, and gas is higher. I think I’m probably living at the poverty level; it sure feels like it anyways. My CPP just isn’t going up fast enough to cover the rising prices of these things. I am fit, capable and able bodied and although I quit working to take care of my ill wife, she’s gone now and I want to go back to work.
There just seems to be no opportunities out there. Do you have any ideas on how I can find paid employment without being discriminated against?
Larry, from Kelowna
I feel your pain. As a female who has at times, worked in male dominated industries, I feel that I too had been discriminated against at times. I know that doesn’t make you feel better, but I just want you to know I understand, and that you aren’t alone. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada have a number of labour market initiatives to help older workers successfully return to the workforce. There are participating organizations which run these programs. In Kelowna they are Kelowna Community Resources, Work BC, and Okanagan Education Centre. There may be others, but these are the ones I found in a short period of time. These are all based in Kelowna, which is where you live. Let me explain a bit further…
Essentially, the Federal Government and each province have established labour market agreements which fund programs which help older workers return to the workforce. Human Resources and Development Service Centre Canada has a great program called “Targeted Initiatives for Older Workers” but that is not offered in Kelowna, only Vernon.
The Kelowna Resource Centre also offers various programs. If they do not have a program suited for your age group and abilities, they will refer you to WorkBC.
Work BC centers dot the landscape around BC and provide job search support and job postings for workers and more. Your will find very nice, helpful people there at 778-478-8390. WorkBC helps workers of all ages always, but will also refer older workers to the Okanagan Education Centre's “Job Options” program. This seems to be the only program that will still have confirmed funding after March 2014 that is specifically targeted to older workers.
I spoke with Okanagan Education Centre staff, who were most helpful. They advise me that their “Job Options” program is targeted to those workers who are 55 years of age or older, and who are not currently receiving Employment Insurance benefits, who are unemployed, who are a BC resident and legally entitled to work in Canada, not self-employed nor working part-time or full-time, who have not started a regular EI claim in the past three years, nor a parental/maternity claim in the past five years and are not a student. Those who are supported by Income Assistance are also eligible.
This is a pilot project and it is free as it is funded by Federal and Provincial governments. In the seven weeks of in-class training, you learn basic computer skills, emotional intelligence, vocational assessments, career exploration, work search strategies, and resume writing. You’ll also learn about business cards, networking, develop interview skills, plus you are entitled to a weekly training allowance. In addition, you may undertake extra certifications such as First Aid, WHMIS, World Host, and receive funding for other work related certifications. These kind folks also assist with sourcing subsidized work experience, and provide you with follow-up support. Their phone number is 250-860-3166. They seem like the organization who is in a better position to assist you.
Good Luck Larry. You are setting a great example!
Kris Stewart is a well-known, well respected Registered Nurse with advanced nursing and business degrees; she is also an inveterate health care entrepreneur. In 2003, she founded Image One MRI clinic. In 2011 she ran in the Federal Election for Kelowna-Lake Country, and established Advanced Home Care Solutions in 2011. She has received national recognition for her work at the Swiss Air Disaster and is a Distinguished Alumni at Thompson Rivers University. She is a sought after public speaker on health care and seniors matters, as well as workplace dynamics. Ms. Stewart's professional mandate is to ensure that private health care options remain accessible and affordable for all.