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William Robertson, academic director of the Internetworking Program, Faculty of Engineering, teaches at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Nick Pearce

As baby boomers steam toward retirement, and with another generation hitting middle age close behind, this year's Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 are taking care to keep talent in the house longer with programs and benefits designed for older workers.

Some of the highlights that placed organizations on the winners list include: stable pensions, particularly defined-benefit programs that have become increasingly rare over the past decade; targeted recruitment of older employees; health plans that extend into retirement with no age limit; opportunities for training and development; flexible working arrangements and time off; recognition of previous experience for vacation entitlements; retirement planning; and phased-in retirement working options and mentorship programs to ensure that skills are passed to younger workers.

Now in its 11th year, the competition involves a detailed review of the employer's operations and human resources practices. Companies were selected from the 2012 Top Employers national competition and were compared with other employers in their industry and region.

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Agriculture Financial Services Corp., Lacombe, Alta.: Non-depository credit intermediation; 488 employees. Actively seeks experienced adjusters for their knowledge.

Agrium Inc., Calgary: Nitrogenous fertilizer manufacturing; 2,419 employees. Supports employees with older children through an academic scholarship program.

Bank of Montreal, Toronto: Commercial banking; 29,605 employees. Encourages ongoing employee development through subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation.

Business Development Bank of Canada, Montreal: Monetary authorities-central bank; 1,834 employees. As part of its health plan, it offers employees the option of purchasing additional vacation days.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Ottawa: National security; 3,104 employees. Encourages employees to stay fit with organized sports teams and a fully equipped onsite fitness facility with subsidized memberships.

Dalhousie University, Halifax: Colleges and universities; 3,278 employees. Supports retiring employees through a health benefits plan that extends into their retirement years.

Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Lévis, Que.: Credit unions; 34,713 employees. Helps employees plan for life after work with retirement planning assistance services.

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EllisDon Corp., Mississauga, Ont.: Commercial and institutional building construction; 1,014 employees. Makes profit-sharing and share purchase plans available to all employees.

Enbridge Inc., Calgary: Natural gas distribution; 4,224 employees. Considers previous work experience when establishing vacation entitlements for experienced applicants.

HP Advanced Solutions Inc., Victoria: Computer system design; 401 employees. In addition to paid personal days off, starts new employees at three weeks of paid vacation.

Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg: Hydroelectric power generation; 5,959 employees. Employees may apply for an educational leave of absence after fours years of employment.

NB Power Holding Corp., Fredericton: Hydroelectric power generation; 2,369 employees. Offers alternative work arrangements including flexible hours, shortened and compressed workweek options, telecommuting and reduced summer hours.

Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Ottawa: General government support; 689 employees. Offers phased-in retirement work options for its older employees.

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SaskTel, Regina: Telecommunications; 3,190 employees. Supports employees with older children through an academic scholarship program for post-secondary education (to $3,000 per child).

University of Toronto, Toronto: Colleges, universities and professional schools; 8,458 employees. Offers generous contributions to a defined benefit pension plan.

An earlier online version of this article incorrectly described the U of T pension plan as a defined contribution plan.

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