Three-Quarters (74%) of Canadians Think that Workplaces Discriminate Against Older Workers who are Looking for Jobs; Half (51%) Feel Similarly About Young Workers

Young Canadians Most Likely to Say They’ve Been the Victim of Age Discrimination at Work or in an Interview

Monday, July 23, 2012

Toronto, ON – Three-quarters (74%) of Canadians ‘agree’ (26% strongly/48% somewhat) that when it comes to hiring, they think that ‘workplaces discriminate against older workers who are looking for jobs’, according to the first poll in a three-part series about older workers conducted by Ipsos Reid, exclusively for Postmedia News and Global Television. Conversely, one-quarter (26%) of Canadians ‘disagree’ (3% strongly/23% somewhat) that workplaces discriminate in this manner. While a majority of Canadians of all ages agree, those aged 55+ (78%) and between the ages of 35 to 54 (80%) are considerably more likely than Canadians aged 18 to 34 (59%) to think so.

Younger workers, though, are more likely to believe that young people are discriminated against more than older workers. While a slim majority (51%) of Canadians, overall, ‘agree’ (11% strongly/39% somewhat) that when it comes to hiring, they think ‘workplaces discriminate against younger workers who are looking for jobs’, there is a steep generational divide on this matter. Most (71%) Canadians aged 18 to 34 believe this type of discrimination exists, while only a minority of middle-aged (42%) or older Canadians (44%) say the same.

One in three (33%) Canadians ‘agree’ (11% strongly/22% somewhat) that they’ve ‘been the victim of age discrimination at work or in a job interview’, but it’s a feeling that is largely driven by younger Canadians. Interestingly, those aged 18 to 34 (41%) are significantly more likely than those aged 35 to 54 (31%) or 55+ (28%) to believe they’ve been victimized in this manner. So while older people are more likely to believe that age discrimination against older people is more prevalent, younger people are more likely to say they’ve actually experienced it as a victim themselves.

What Would Canadians Do?...

As part of the survey, Canadians were given a scenario whereby if they were an employer and had to choose from various candidates of different ages, all with no previous experience in the job they’re hiring for, and all with equal qualifications. Overall, the majority (62%) of Canadians leaned younger in their choice, rather than older, and would choose the worker that was either between the ages of 25 to 34 (37%) or 35 to 44 (25%), while significantly fewer would choose the candidate aged 45 to 54 (19%), 55 to 64 (8%) or 65+ (3%). On the other hand, few (9%) would choose the youngest worker between the ages of 18 to 24 (9%). While the general trend is to lean towards choosing the candidate closest in age to themselves, the most popular age range among older Canadians aged 55+ was still the candidate aged 25 to 34 (24%).

The question was posed again to respondents, but this time explicitly stating that while all the candidates had similar qualifications, they had different levels of experience and time remaining in the workforce. While, overall, the results didn’t change much once experience was added, there was a general movement away from the youngest workers, but it wasn’t pronounced. The following chart outlines the age of the applicant, and the results depending on whether or not the candidate’s level of experience was mentioned, and the percentage-point change between the two:

(Click to enlarge image)

While the overall impact was minimal, the key finding is that adding years of experience did not make older workers significantly more attractive to hire.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between July 10 and 13, 2012, on behalf of Postmedia News and Global Television. For this survey a samples of 1,005 Canadians from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Associate Vice President
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

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About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,363 billion (1.897 billion USD) in 2011.

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Three-Quarters (74%) of Canadians Think that Workplaces Discriminate Against Older Workers who are Looking for Jobs; Half (51%) Feel Similarly About Young Workers


Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs