Are you willing to defer your retirement? A recommendation to the federal government to raise the retirement age forcing many Canadians to do just that was made early last month. It was hastily dismissed.
Maybe a little too hastily.
The Advisory Council on Economic Growth made the recommendation to the federal Finance minister to raise the eligibility age for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS). One of the reasons the council proposed it was to increase the number of people working. Canada lags behind most western countries in terms of workforce participation of people over 55 years of age, and the council saw the result of such a move, i.e. delayed retirements, as the ticket to an improved economy.
While many Baby Boomers breathed a sigh of relief at the government’s immediate dismissal of the idea, it may warrant a closer look.
We know that Canadians are living longer and healthier lives. And that our longevity is only likely to increase. We also know that Boomers, on average, have not adequately prepared financially (or emotionally) to support themselves in retirement on their savings/investments alone, at least in the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. And we know that government pension programs were never designed to fully support a person’s living costs in retirement, and that’s not about to change with some big infusion of funding.
So, if we have an aging workforce that is:
- Healthy, capable and willing to continue working
- Not financially capable of supporting themselves without a pay cheque
- Putting pressure on our already strained pension programs
why not consider deferring retirement? Many other countries already have.
And people are already doing it voluntarily. The most recent info from Stats Canada indicates the average Canadian’s retirement age has increased gradually over the past decade: 63 for men; 61 for women and if you have post-secondary education you are likely to stay in the workforce until you are 65. More older workers are staying longer either because they enjoy working, they don’t know what they’d do if they didn’t work, or they recognize it would create financial hardships if they quit.
On a national level, the economic benefits of an extended work life could add $56 Billion to our national GDP according to the Advisory Council. On the organizational level, the benefits of an intergenerational workforce includes a diversity of knowledge, wisdom, and perspectives that provide both historic memory and innovative ideas. And on the individual level, having a purpose that comes from working longer has been proven to improve one’s overall health and wellbeing, and even extend your lifespan.
I think part of the reluctance to look at a formal deferred retirement program relates to our outdated view of retirement. For many years, we have looked at this stage of life as our just reward for putting in long, hard labour over the course of our careers. And rightly so. But, we developed this picture of retirement as an unending holiday that we would enjoy without fully understanding how that impacts our very core as human beings. We were sold a vision of leisure; and even the dream of early retirement.
In actuality, the days of ‘Freedom 55’ are long gone for the average Canadian. It is unrealistic for most of us to retire before our mid-60s. And the idea that we could have another 30 years of productive life to live after we retire begs the question about whether our current system and beliefs about retirement still serve us.
What do you think? Does a deferred retirement make sense for you? Or are you happy that the government shot down the idea before it got out of the gate?
We offer a variety of coaching programs and workshops for individuals, couples and groups to help you assess your readiness to retire and how you can create a smooth transition from the workforce or enhance your current retirement lifestyle.