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Recently, the Globe and Mail ran a story about someone I know who was, and still is a volunteer member of CARP, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.  I met Bill VanGorder, a current CARP board member living in Halifax, years ago while I was Vice President and General Manager of the organization Lillian and Murray Morgenthau, my in-laws started back in 1984.   Apparently, as the article stated, he went back to work after spending three months in retirement.   The article quotes “restlessness and a desire to keep contributing” as the motivation, but it also goes on to mention the global financial meltdown and its effect on “retirement savings, making the prospect of ongoing work both attractive and inevitable”. (I underlined the last word for emphasis, given that this was a retiree we were talking about.

The statistics, as related by the Globe make a fairly clear-cut case for the reversing of a trend started several generations ago, ie the very act of retirement itself.   More than half of men over 65 were still working 2015 and 30% of those over 70.

Canada’s age guru, demographer David Foot, who’s work has been cited by CARP on numerous occasions, suggests that both finances and life expectancy are both in play here in the decision calculus as to when to stop working.   Here’s the thing though – although many have to work, a lot of them don’t mind it, in fact preferring it to staying home watching daytime TV on the sofa and waiting for the trumpet to blow.

Still, many of the best, high-paying jobs elude older workers on the hunt.  Employers often preferring younger talent, play the age-ROI game in their minds, and accrue all the false economies of that kind of thinking.

When asked, the convenient answer that many workers offer is that ‘government should do something about this’ referring possibly to age discrimination in the workplace or the dearth of high-grade, skills (re)training programs.  Don’t hold your breath.

Others have considered going into business for themselves, doing what they were doing in the private sector previously, but now for hire to any bidder, while others consider starting a business or buying a franchise.

The article about my old acquaintance was superseded only a day or two later by another very well thought and researched article by Linda Nazareth, economist, author and Senior Fellow for Economics and Population Change at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

This article starts with the premise that based on a new report by the OECD covering 35 developed countries, the next generation of seniors, ie. Baby Boomers and beyond will fare less well in retirement than the generation ahead of them.   Defined benefit pension plans, a fixture of the previous generations’ retirement plans, are becoming increasingly rare.  There has also been some alarming trends regarding the rise of poor elderly.

Again, she states “[p]olicies to support older workers also need to be front and centre.”  Dream on.  It appears that the only concerted actions governments are capable of these days are responses to crises.  Temporize, waffle and delay long enough and we will have one.  Disturbingly, she goes on to state that, “[w]e have had a little taste of what happens when income inequality becomes an issue and it has not been pleasant. From social unrest to political disruption, nobody seems to benefit when people feel that they are not getting their fair share.”   Revolutions have started this way.  Short of that, you will need to develop both strategy and tactics to develop income for life.