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Age discrimination: fit senior can't find job

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Some seniors need to work to supplement their pensions, but even though some are as fit or even in better shape than some people in their 40s, no one will give them a job.
Dear Nurse Kris: I'm a 75-year-old fellow who wants and needs work, but can't find anything suitable. My wife died seven years ago. My CPP just isn't enough to cover my monthly expenses anymore.
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 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 to 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 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 per cent 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
Dear Larry: I feel your pain. As a female who has at times worked in male-dominated industries, I feel 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.
Essentially, the federal government and each province have established labour market agreements which fund programs to 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 offers a program called Grey Power, which is a program designed for older, urban workers, but after checking with them, it seems it is full for its last intake of the program. They do not know if they will have funding for this to continue beyond the program end date of March, 2014. This last intake is full. Any inquiries will be sent to WorkBC.
WorkBC centres dot the landscape around B.C. and provide job search support and job postings for workers and more. Helpful people work there, so call
778-478-8390. WorkBC helps workers of all ages, 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 specifically targetted to older workers.
I spoke with Okanagan Education Centre staff, who were most helpful. They advise me their Job Options program is targetted to those workers who are 55 or older and not currently receiving Employment Insurance benefits, who are unemployed, are B.C. residents 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 students.
Those who are supported by Income Assistance are also eligible.
This is a pilot project and 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 followup support.
Their phone number is 250-860-3166. They seem like the organization in a better position to assist you.
Good Luck, Larry. You are setting a great example.

- Kris Stewart can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at the website AdvancedHomeCareSolutions.-com.

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