18 Apr Saving for Retirement? Ha!
It’s all very well to say Canadians should be saving for retirement, but it’s increasingly unrealistic for many in today’s economy.
Increasingly, employment is precarious for many, not just for people with low-paying jobs but also including the middle class and self-employed persons. Short-term contracts and intermittent work periods are becoming the new normal, along with part-time and seasonal work. Saving during good times may be eaten up in surviving through the lean times.
People without private pension plans, investments or savings, who also receive less than the maximum payments from Canada Pension Plan (CPP), are living below the poverty line. Even Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are not enough to raise them above the poverty line.
In 2009, only 39.2% of all workers in Canada had a registered pension plan through their work. Nowadays, many work-based pension plans are also uncertain, with no guarantee of a secure income in retirement.
Improvements to CPP as a form of mandatory saving is an obvious step, as well as careful attention to OAS and GIS payments to reduce inequities, but what else can be done to create an adequate income for an aging population?
We need to tackle ageism in the workplace, so that people who want to work and need to work can help to meet the current and predicted labour shortages over the next 20 years. In 2015, the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S.A. reported strong evidence of ageism in hiring women. I suspect we’d get similar findings in Canada, and likely for men, too.
We need to design provincial and municipal social policies that increase the opportunities of older adults for lifelong learning and service, and facilitate and support their contributions to community and society. Groups such as the Seniors College Association of Nova Scotia are a case in point.
We also need a wider range of housing options for the enormous variations in the older population in terms of their financial status, health, and functional ability. Affordable transportation for both urban and rural populations also needs attention as part of age-friendly community planning and design.
And if Canada truly wants to be a welcoming nation for diverse new Canadians, we need to ensure that they, too, have sufficient support in old age. Currently, many immigrants will get less than the full OAS, which erodes the universality of our old age pension system.
Check out these
An international report about ageism in Canada
Age discrimination in the workplace in Canada
What’s your experience? I’d love to hear from you.