Why did Mario Lemieux retire so early?
“At some point, it seems like you don’t value your free time anymore, because you can do whatever you want with it.” Retirement is not for everyone. Or at least, for some, it’s more than just a beautiful beach in Florida.
“It’s like my weekend starts on Tuesday night. I have a big weekend and I work two days. It allows me to enjoy my free time more. And I think that’s a main reason that made me go back to the job market.”
In light of a survey by Coops de l’information on employers’ reluctance to hire older workers, Le Soleil sat down with four retirees to better understand their motivation to return to the labor market.
Daniel Gendron wore the engineer’s blouse for Énergir for more than 20 years. Today, at 62, he is a clerk in a small hardware store in the Saint-Sacrement district. And he is the first retiree to be hired by the establishment.
And unlike the premature departures caused by the pandemic, the crisis has rather delayed his retirement. Which only lasted a few months.
He who has spent a good part of his career doing more complex tasks as an engineer, in addition to frequent trips between Quebec and Montreal, Daniel appreciates the “Zen side” of mopping the floor, cleaning the aisles and advising customers on their next renovation project. And this, two days a week.
“We couldn’t prove anything. Not because we have proven everything, but because it no longer interests us. His only regret is not having retired earlier. “But still, it’s a small regret.”
“I go there because I like it.”
“What I realized when I retired was that after two months, you can do almost anything you want. You are free. You get up in the morning and you decide what to do.
Among other things, Daniel discovered a passion for sharpening knives, in addition to developing other hobbies, such as repairing old amplifiers from the 1970s and 1980s.
A goal, purpose, or purpose, “maybe it’s human nature, or just mine, but it feels like we need obligation. Of things that you know you have to do,” he philosophizes.
“And I find that a job is an obligation, but when it’s an obligation that you like, it’s fun .”
Karine Roussy, general manager of GIT services-conseils en emploi, explains that this path is not unique. Whether it is to contribute to society, fill time or simply socialize, more and more retirees are looking for a place in the job market.
And the time is right. “Before, retirees were reluctant to return to the labor market, because they were afraid of taking the place of young people. But there, the market needs them so much.
She adds that employers are increasingly daring to call back their former employees, for lack of new workers. “It happens, but especially for one-off contracts, to help out,” she says.
The exact case of Serge Lévesque and Mario Lemieux, production supervisors at Prevost, in Sainte-Claire.
“The first time they called me back, my boss at the time, for him there was no question [that I would come back] since I was retiring. And someone said to him: did you ask him?” says Serge.
“It’s been a couple of months since I left and I said yes,” he adds, smirking.
He worked for 31 years in the large Prevost bus factory before retiring. “After that, I was with us for a few months, and then I said no, I have to do something. So I went to work on school buses. And I plan to go back eventually.”
He is now in his 35th year with the company.
In 2021, Mario Lemieux returned to sit in his supervisor’s chair, which he had occupied since 1994. “It was supposed to be two months to help out, and in the end it was extended until February 2022. But in the end, I’m still here in 2023.”
The two men know every corner of the business. “Prevost will be 100 years old next year, and in my case, underlines Serge, I’ve been here for more than a third. It’s our life.”
An advantage for the employer, but especially for young employees, like Mélina Michaud. With a technical background in aerospace engineering and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, the 26-year-old woman has been working at Prévost for a year.
“When I arrived, I had a lot of questions about things that I didn’t have the answers to and my team is fairly new to my part of the department, so they didn’t have the answers either.”
“And there, they brought back the person who can answer all our questions”, she underlines, throwing a knowing look with her “grandfather of job”, Serge.
“Mélina, it could be our granddaughter. Of course, it’s gratifying to be able to help these people at our age. At least we tell ourselves that we are still useful for something”
These “encyclopedias on two legs” allow the next generation not to reinvent the wheel. A major asset for a company if it wishes to train new cohorts.
“Knowing why it was installed this way, we understand better how it works today and it allows us to move forward,” explains Mario.
“And the things we want to change today, the new ideas that come out, we know in which direction we shouldn’t go, completes Serge. Because we have already tried it and we know what a pitfall we had.
Stay grounded in reality
For some, however, leaving the profession practiced for several decades does not always end voluntarily. That doesn’t mean life is bitter though.
Alain Lacasse will soon be 65 years old. A college teacher for nearly 25 years, he has been a full-time store manager at the Royal 22e Régiment Museum for four years.
Coordinator of a multimedia program at the time, he unfortunately had to suspend this one for lack of registration. “And that forced me to retire, but I wasn’t ready to take it.”
“Anyway, I wanted to continue working, to be active.” So he signed up for GIT, an employment counseling service.
“What I found [at the Museum] by chance was that the majority of my colleagues are the age of my CEGEP students. So I find myself in a totally similar environment. And what I find fun is that you are connected to reality and you are forced to evolve with this world. Hear them, see them. And me, it has always fascinated me.
Alain Lacasse wants to break the retirement cliché. And even more that of “Freedom 55”, because the possibility of accessing one’s retirement fund should not be a benchmark for leaving the labor market. “For me, the ideal would be to have a choice.”
“I don’t see a frontier before retirement or after retirement. I see a mixture that continues, until the person decides that it is made too difficult. […] For me, it is a question of health and of interest , summarizes it.
According to Mr. Lacasse, companies have every advantage in taking advantage of the different generations. “One brings novelty and naivety, the other brings experience and moderation. This mix is the winning formula.”
“And I find that when you get older, one of the essentials is to stay connected to life, to reality. Otherwise, you get really flat.”