Back to work, grandma

Why the retirement age needs to change

Back to work, grandma—why the retirement age needs to change

The Star Tribune/Courtney Perry/AP

What explains the mystique of age 65?

There was no particular logic at work in 1966 when Canada settled on 65 as the normal age of retirement for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). We were simply copying the “minimum retirement age” the United States chose for itself back in 1934. Since then, the notion of 65 as the proper age at which to stop working and start enjoying oneself has come to be seen as a sacred right. It’s not. And it needs to change.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted at looming changes to Canada’s public retirement system. This has been widely interpreted to mean a shift in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) from 65 to 67. It’s an entirely reasonable idea, and has been predictably met with outrage and protest.

Continuous increases in life expectancy are fundamentally altering the mathematics of retirement in Canada. When we settled on 65 as the social norm for retirement almost half a century ago, life expectancy was around 72 years. Today it is almost 81 years. And there’s no reason to believe these gains—driven by better health care technology, drugs and education—will stop. Over the past 100 years Canadians have added, on average, an extra three months to their lifespans year after year. But retirement at age 65 remains fixed.

More years of leisure and comparatively fewer for work, partly paid for by government, sounds like a great deal. Yet such a scenario is unsustainable over the long run. According to a recent article in Canadian Public Policy by McMaster University economists Frank Denton and Byron Spencer, the ratio of Canadian workers per retiree will drop from 4:1 to 2:1 over the next two decades. If retirement programs are kept at current levels, this will inevitably require a doubling of the public cost of retirement—a massive burden to place upon future generations. The obvious solution is to adjust the age of retirement.

Canada is unique among developed nations in ignoring the issue until now. Countries that have already raised or are raising their retirement age include: the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Denmark, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Finland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey . . . and on and on. It’s worth noting that the U.S. began the process of hiking its retirement age to 67 as far back as 1983.

And yet opponents are now accusing Harper of unleashing a hidden agenda on retirees. “The government has taken off the sweater vest,” remarked NDP finance critic Peter Julian. Critics point out Canada is in much better financial shape than many European countries. That may be true. But whether or not we’ve avoided the excesses of other public pension systems has no bearing on the fact that our system faces a crisis of its own due to rising life expectancies and lengthening retirements.

If Harper deserves criticism for his recent trial balloon, it should be for excessive timidity. In his Davos remarks he sought to contain potential criticism by declaring the CPP off limits: “Fortunately, the Canada Pension Plan is fully funded, actuarially sound and does not need to be changed.” In truth, the plan is fully funded only for the next few years and will soon require a major re-evaluation. Relentless increases in longevity have just as big an impact on CPP as OAS. It makes little sense to adjust the retirement age upward for one program while protecting the notion of retirement at 65 elsewhere. The social norm needs to change.

Canada’s retirement system was never designed to cover several decades of freedom from work. While it may be politically expedient to argue that Canada’s retirement system should be protected from change of any kind, there are serious consequences to the status quo. If we allow retirement to grow longer and more lucrative, we rob the economy of productive workers, put a greater burden on the next generation and inevitably threaten the viability of every other social program in the country.

Of course, any changes to the retirement age must be gradual, transparent and fair. (Certainly nothing should disadvantage the elderly poor; the near elimination of seniors’ poverty is one of the great Canadian public policy success stories of the past few decades.) Denton and Spencer propose adding three months per year to the retirement age until it reaches 70. Alternatively, Sweden indexes its normal retirement age to life expectancy tables; as the Swedish lifespan lengthens, so too does time spent at work. Regardless of the process, however, something has to give. Retirement can’t last forever.

Amid the massive media attention paid to the recent Shafia murder trial in Kingston, Ont., Maclean’s coverage stands out from the pack for our detailed investigation into the inner workings of this fatally dysfunctional family. An exhaustive 22-page report by Maclean’s award-winning Senior Writer Michael Friscolanti offers readers an in-depth look at what really went on inside the Shafia home before and after the murders, as well as providing detailed coverage of the subsequent police investigation and trial. See “ ‘A sick notion of honour’ ” beginning on page 38.

Filed under:

Back to work, grandma

  1. I expect to work long after I’m 65 because I love what I do and see no reason why I should not. Most people who are working at something they at least like, would like to carry on working. 

    The problem I have is that the people I see working who are older, are not 65 or 67, they are much older than that. The woman in this picture does not look like she is in her 60’s, she looks slightly older. And why? Because elderly people cannot afford to live on CPP alone, even with a supplement due to housing markets in many of the cities they live in. I feel so bad when I am at he checkout and I see a woman who should not be standing on her feet for eight hours a day. It breaks my heart. So set the age of retirement up hire Mr. Harper, but put your money into helping older people in this country, instead of a program that will increase the rate of crime by building useless prisons cells.

    • What about the senior who is self-employed that enjoy what they are doing, but are not making enough money to live on.

      • Well, it would be nice if they could continue to work and then receive some smaller pension from the government to hopefully let them live with dignity. I certainly don’t want to retire at 65.

  2. what a crappy article.  First, it’s duplicitous in mentioning that list of countries that have, or are thinking of increasing the retirement age.  It does not mention what the retirement age is… For example, yes, France in increasing the retirement age, but from age 60 to age 62!  NOT 67…

    Secondly, given the age discrimination that is rampant in the HR departments of most firms, where people in their 50’s are already passed over en-masse, how are we supposed to work until age 67? There are only so many Wallmarts and McDonalds in this country.

    • Target is coming. 

    • Older people have a lot to offer to a company. So do younger people. At the end of the day you need to have fair competition. 

      If you ask me, being over qualified for your job, weather your 68 or 28 is a shame. What’s worse though, is to have one of the two just give up and force the other to pick up the bill for their… well… laziness.

      The government isn’t just some sort of entity that owes you something. It’s actually a pool of money that your generation has mismanaged. You might not have personally made bad promises but in a democracy you need to realise that the promises made were a reflection of what your generation expected and it was too much to ask. 

      You need to take responsibility for your careless spending now before it’s too late.

  3. The problem is not that Canadians are living longer but rather the tax base is more and more on the shoulders of the middle class and their wages have been stagnant for a number of years. Also there has been no consideration of productivity, it is time for the 4 day work week, which would create thousands of jobs in every sector and while the changeover might be tough it would benefit everyone from those with jobs to those that sell everything from soup to nuts to use an old adage. It is unfortunate that Macleans has chosen to be a shill for Harper and his American controlled neocons.

  4. …and the Americans were simply copying the policies of Germany by setting their retirement age a full 3 years beyond the average life expectancy.  Very good fiscal policy in that the odds of paying out a pension were stacked in the house’s favour.  This whole notion of a person’s right to enjoy the few remaining years left in their frail body as it slowly collapses around them until they finally slip away into oblivion is, of course, utter nonsense.

    If we really wanted to ‘fix’ the pension plan we should up the retirement age to 82 putting it back on par with its original design.  While we’re at it, we might as well eliminate the minimum wage.  The poor don’t invest that money anyways and it just goes to waste on things like food and clothing.  To do that I suppose we’d have to bust all the unions again but that would have the benefit of making it easier to simply fire people when they get too old to be useful and hire some of those younger do nothings.  Even better if we could drop the minimum age requirements to something like 12, we could pay them even less since they’re still living at home!

    Come to think of it, why are we wasting all this money on healthcare for these people that don’t save enough to take care of their own needs?  Disease should be the spur that encourages people to work harder not an excuse to lay on their backs in hospital.  Eliminating all those student loans that never get repaid on time would also put a pretty chunk of change back into the government’s coffers.  With all of that done we would have a fabulous amount of cash to invest in razor wire and guards to keep the unhappy hordes at bay.

    Or, we could just restore the GST to where it was and fairly adjust personal and corporate income tax rates.

  5. This makes sense. Either it gets raised now or OAS and CPP won’t be there later “at all”!
    Maybe a grandfather rule would work IE: born after 1971 (40 yr olds) now can’t claim until 67. As a contributing mbr of society with no post secondary education(spouse either) I have been able to put myself into a position where I most likely will not be able to claim this anyway and it is just poor financial planning by the masses that they think they can rely on these things. If you don’t like it take a hard look at Greece. Years of feeling entitled to (government pensions to not having to pay property tax)have crippled that country. Don’t think it could happen here? Think again

    • Yeah, they really screwed up their democratic system with all those irresponsible votes so, since we know for a fact that government corruption and the irresponsible actions of the financial sector had nothing to do with their problems, I suppose that’s the final vote on democracy as well.  Oh well, back to divine right and serfdom it is then.

      • I say again echoed by you entitlement!


        • I’m sorry, I can’t parse your grammar.  Do you mean you support returning to feudalism or that you are repeating your original statement as a rebuttal?  If it is the latter I should inform you that I was parroting your logic and extending it ad absurdum to other matters such as political freedom.  Perhaps a post-secondary education would have come in handy here.

  6. It should be up to the individual to save on their own, not a government program. I fully support and think it is absolutely necessary to change the age for both cpp and oas. 70 is probably an appropriate number to slowly get to, I like the idea of three months a year increase. This didn’t mean you have to work till 70, just means that you have to save on your own if you want to retire earlier.

    • I find it interesting you believe it is up to the individual to save on their own. It is a nice theory but not reality.

      Using the average salary in Canada as guideline of $47,481 per year in the province of Ontario, the government takes $21,249 or 44.75% of your income. This does not include CPP or EI deductions which would decrease your take home salary even further.

      From this net base you need to pay for shelter, utilities, vehicle, children expenses, schooling etc.

      Just where do you think a person can save any significant amount for retirement when the government is taking so much of what you earn?

  7. Harper is turning us into a USA state and your surprised??? The writing was on the wall and you chose to ingnore it. Since when is this goverment has ever listen to reports or consultations. Since when did they ever consult anybody to do anything. You voted for them endure them now, four more years. Cat food for the senoir is around the corner. You can thank your beloved westerner Harper.

  8. I don’t think life expectancy is a very good measure to base this debate on. It assumes the average to be more meaningful than it is.

    If I live to 100 and you live to 60, the average is 80, even though neither of us died at 80. This is a simple example of the type of skew that exists in terms of life expectancy.

    Add to this the fact that the more affluent live longer and are more likely to have a privately secured pension, and the notion of raising the age that a public pension like OAS or CPP can be collected becomes even sillier. The less affluent, who tend to work at more physically demanding jobs that they can’t do for as long, will suffer, while it likely won’t affect the more affluent at all.

    The type of job obviously comes into play in this regard. A person who dedicates their life say to working in construction as a window installation specialist, likely has a shorter worklife than an engineer working in an office building.

    The engineer probably has way more money to retire on too and is less likely to rely on the public system. Meanwhile the construction worker likely has less money and is more likely to rely on the public system while needing it sooner to boot.

    If we’re going to look at changing how pensions work, we need to abandon this “one size fits all” concept of a stated “retirement age”, and actually start looking at who needs what on a more individual basis.

    And for the elitists, who seem to think that everyone can get an MBA and those who don’t are “lazy” may wish to consider that somebody needs to pour the concrete your office building is made of, and that the last thing we want really is to go from a dedicated professional class of tradespeople, to one in which the average worker isn’t as skilled.

    • The life expectancy thing is a canard, too.  What’s driven it up so much is the decrease (even in the last 50 years) in infant mortality.  Most of my ancestors lived into their 80’s.

      • Totally agree.

        Nearly everyone of my grandparents lived to 90 or older. Both my paternal and maternal great grandfathers lived past 100.

        I don’t plan on retiring in my 60s anyways, so it won’t likely affect me unless I become gravely ill.

        However, in my wife’s family all the men die from heart disease. Even though her father is an avid outdoorsman and doesn’t smoke or drink, he’s not likely to live to the average life expectancy.

        So this notion of a one-size fits all is silly. If we continue this way, all we’re really doing is discriminating based on affluence and genetics.

      • Life expectancy at 65 has risen by 2.3 years since just the mid-90’s: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/100223/t100223a1-eng.htm . I couldn’t find older Canadian data, but US figures show an increase in life expectancy at 65 of 7.5 years since 1949-51, which is not far off from the figure the Macleans editors used.
        See (page 48): http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_09.pdf

        It isn’t too hard to figure out what is happening, either, the % of smokers has dropped considerably, as both medical science and wealth has improved (this does not, as is often claimed, reduce medical costs, but rather ensures that people die of prostate cancer at 80 instead of lung cancer at 65).

      • So, raising the retirement age means more contributions before drawing benefits.  How about overlaying that concept with some form of incentive for work-sharing, so that young people can get their foot in the door and absorb some job experience.

    • I liked what you said as it is true: 

      I chose to be a single divorced mom with no support and did well until the last recession and a chronic illness set in.  I chose to do it in a have not province when the last Conservative Gov. was in adding up billions in debt (didn’t Harper inherit  debt free and even after many transfers of billions from EI and CMH.and the like…….STILL GO AND IS GOING INTO BILLIONS IN DEBT?)
      anyway……….when I chose my life at the time………….I had a great job which went by the way side, my university degree got me nowhere and I paid 14% interest on term mtg’s for my shelter for my children.
      to bonus corporations, china, oil, investors…………give tax breaks to the rich etc.

      just wait ………watch it all play out until you see something like 14-22% interest rates on those homes you think you own and see if you can make it on a your paychecks, never mind a pension.
      or see what happens to you if you have an illness and have to be looked after by a gov. subsidized home….like many seniors.  then you can stay in there on boost and meds that alter your mind until you die of what ‘diginity’…or despair.

    • The less affluent, who tend to work at more physically demanding jobs that they can’t do for as long, will suffer, while it likely won’t affect the more affluent at all.

      I wouldn’t discount the possibility that the people advocating these changes consider that a feature, not a bug.

      • Culling of the herd.  Have we reached the point where the elderly are seen strictly as a liability? 

    • This is likely the most intelligent and thoughtful post about this debate (that I’ve read stemming from the MacLean’s article). Unfortunately the elitists have the power and all too frequently the narrowmindedness to disregard the contributions made by tradespeople. Just as a reality check who really considers the contributions made by people who haven’t had the benefit of learning a trade? people who perform jobs those same elitists would never consider doing themselves. Perhaps the fact that most of those people will work long beyond the age of 65 just to attempt to make ends meet is not worthy worrying about in this debate.

  9. “Denton and Spencer propose adding three months per year to the retirement age until it reaches 70.” That makes good sense. As age 70 approaches, the system should probably be further adjusted upwards.

  10. By the time I retire the age will be 75.
    Give Grandma a tip.

  11. TIn determining the retirement age, the question should not be: how old will you be when you die? but rather, how old will you be when you no longer have the strength or energy to continue working?  Some people, in some jobs, can easily continue working into their mid-seventies.  A manual worker cannot.  The solution should be to add more flexibility, backed up by laws that prevent companies from getting rid of seniors who can still do the job.  If this is done then I suspect that the demographic problem will largely solve itself.  Those who still enjoy the challenge of their job and are physically able to continue will continue to work (and earn more money).  Those who don’t, won’t.

  12. Here’s an idea: why don’t we move to a steady-state economy instead of a growth-dependant economy?  If everyone consumed less, everyone would “need” less, Production could go down while productivity could go up – two workers could support a pensioner, instead of four.  The environment would be less stressed.  If the super-consumers in the “1%” cut back, we could probably have enough to share with the very poor.  We wouldn’t have to keep stealing trained workers from other countries to keep our economy growing; we could allow our population to slowly shrink instead.

    Maybe it wouldn’t work, human greed and lust for power being what they are, so we’ll just have to keep consuming our way to oblivion.

    See http://steadystate.org/.

    • This is perhaps the worst idea I have ever heard.

      First, a steady state economy would require massive intervention into every facet of human existence, so as to ensure that people didn’t consume “too much”. This would create immense stresses on the social fabric as well – one person’s gain in consumption would be another’s direct loss. This goes double for peace among nations (invading others suddenly becomes a lot more appealing as a means of increased consumption, absent economic growth).

      Second, you are assuming productivity growth, but in fact, there would be very little incentive to do the things that drive productivity growth (innovation and entrepreneurship) in such a system. Innovation requires capital, and the basic assumption underlying capital markets is that there will be growth, which investors can profit from. Prior to the industrial revolution, the productivity growth rate was approximately 0.1%/year (and there were many periods in which it was negative, like the Dark Ages). State-led research (which would be necessary, absent private incentives) has not, historically, been very successful either. The Soviets, for instance, had more scientists than the US, but were way behind, outside of aerospace and military technology.

      Third, such a plan would be incompatible with a free society. The level of intervention needed to ensure that a country consumed below the proscribed amount would be staggering. But this is just bourgeoise economic freedom right? Wrong. Economic liberty is intrinsically linked to personal liberty. Can you really have freedom of speech, when the state effectively controls the media, and access to the means of producing media?

      Indeed, even on the environmental side, this plan would be a failure. Why? As you note, our present rate of consumption is unsustainable. However, your proposed reduction in future consumption wouldn’t change that fact (and I should note that I have been assuming this plan was adopted globally thus far – in practice any C02 reductions from a zero-growth Canada would be wiped out in a few seconds by China). An era featuring positive growth would, of course, mean more consumption, but it would also keep in place market incentives to develop scientific solutions. Modern history has consistently defied Malthusians like you because scarcity – with the right incentives – spurs on innovation for alternatives.

      These kinds of solutions are typical of those that believe they will likely be in the top of such a society (incidentally if you want to live in a real life steady state society, you can defect to North Korea anytime you want). After all, the aristocracy has always fared well. They didn’t need television, they had jesters. They didn’t need the agricultural revolution, they never starved. They didn’t need liesure, they already had that. The beneficiaries of the past 200-250 years of sustained economic growth have been the great majority of the populace.

      • That’s one vote for consuming our way to oblivion.  Thanks for entering.

        • Uh… actually your plan involves consuming at present levels, while reducing the factors that have incentivized innovation over the past 200 years. Highly illogical, captain. 

          • Just out of curiosity, which part of “If everyone consumed less” involves consuming at present levels?

            It also occurs to me that we need to update Godwin’s Law to cover suggestions to move to North Korea in economic discussions.

          • Is that not the premise of a steady state economy, ie. keeping GDP at present levels? If you are arguing for a shrinking economy, that compounds most of the problems I’ve indicated – although you could get to environmentally sustainable levels of economic output. The problem is that any politically feasible negative growth strategy would have to be gradual, and wouldn’t get to environmental sustainability in a sufficiently fast time horizon. 

            As a hypothetical benchmark, lets say the goal was to get human-induced C02 down to 1950 levels (1.5 trillion vs. today’s 7 trillion tonnes) of C02 production by reducing consumption. This precedes the most significant increases in C02 emissions (though we are still talking about levels of emissions that were exponentially higher than those preceding the 50’s). Source: http://www.mongabay.com/images/2006/graphs/co2_global_1750-2000.jpg

            Of course we have gotten more efficient at producing economic output since then. In 1950, 1.5 trillion tonnes of C02 were the byproduct of 5.3 trillion 1990 (all subsequent figures also account for inflation) dollars of GDP (source: Angus Maddison, 2009), or .283 tonnes per $ of GDP. In in contrast, GDP in 2001 was 37.7 dollars, so we produce .186 tonnes per of GDP (which in itself tells you something – we got substantially more efficient, mostly as an indirect result of efforts to use less oil). 

            So to get to 1950 levels of C02 emissions by reducing consumption, with current technology, you would need to go down to a GDP of 8.06 trillion dollars. However, population was only 2.5 billion in 1950, whereas today it is over 6 billion.  So whereas global GDP per capita in the 50’s was at $2,109, per capita GDP would have to be around $1,300 (versus over $6,000 today). 

            It would take 75 years of -2% growth (assuming a steady population – good luck) to get to that level of GDP per capita. So that is 75 years of producing very high levels of C02, so as to converge to a level of human C02 output that is still very high by any historical standard. And -2% growth is no picnic, either. It would be roughly similar to Canada’s experience with the great recession, every single year. 

            So now lets consider the alternative: human progress. Even without pricing carbon, our C02 intensity (amount of C02 needed to produce $1 of goods) has dropped at a rate of .82%/year. If we could effectively price carbon, making firms treat C02 as an input of production, that rate could accelerate considerably. If we could reduce C02 intensity at a rate of 3%/year, instead of the 75 years of misery you’ve proposed, we could produce $79 trillion in goods, at 1950 levels of C02 production. There is also a point at which C02 intensity will reach zero, or relatively close to it. 

            Is 3% reduction in C02 efficiency an unrealistic number? Not at all. We already have the technology to produce zero-emissions energy, through nuclear and renewables. As fossil fuels grow more scarce, there will be a stronger incentive to invest in those technologies (indeed, this is already happening). Biofuels, in some cases (eg. Brazilian sugarcane, but not corn) are already a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. As switchgrass-based biofuel unlocks the energy potential of the great plains, and as agricultural biotech makes farming more efficient, that too can provide cheap, clean energy. 

            Despite having Spock as your avatar, your proposal reflects a poor grasp of the future. Human creativity, appropriately incentivized, is a powerful force. Lets harness it appropriately, instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  

          • One other thing – there are other, non-ecological, threats to human survival. Off-hand, consider an asteroid striking the earth, super-diseases, first contact with alien races, and nuclear war as examples. Ensuring the economic foundations of rapid scientific progress (I can’t stress enough that productivity growth was virtually nil prior to the industrial revolution), as well as the ability to engage in large-scale production would help mankind deal with these, and many other prospective threats to our survival (respectively, that would mean the ability to destroy the asteroid, to cure the disease, to avoid conquest, and to colonize other planets as a hedge against nuclear war). 

          • Can we ad – ‘we will end up like Greece’ to that. 

  13. so in 1966 when retirement age was set at 65 life expectancy was 71, that means you were to spend that last 8.5% of your life retired. if we were to apply the same ratio to today that would raise the retirement age to 74! (81*.915=74.2)
    if the retirement age does get rasied to 67 you’re still getting twice as much retirement as your grandparents did! quite complaining!
    hell, if working to 74 meant drastically lessening the burden on my children and granchildren i wouldn’t fuss, at its worst it would still be fair! our children and granchildren are already going to spend the rest of their lives over-paying taxes to pay of the debts previous generations incurred.

    greed sickens me, but seeing people trying to maintain their over-indulgent standard of living by burdening and borrowing from their children’s future makes me want to puke.

    here’s a fair idea: make the retirement age dynamic, have it automatically float with life expectancy.

  14. Although an argument can be made for upping the age of OAS and CPP, the spirit of this discussion is ludicrous. Everyone who has even gone into retirement knows what’s behind the discussion: the crass envy of younger people for anyone who has made it into retirement. This is all the truer since youth today belong to an Entitlement culture that did not even exist when Boomers started out. Eat your hearts out, whiners. We retired people worked for this; you youth scarcely know what work is.

    • Jealousy!  Is that what you think this is about?  Did you read the article at all?  I am a “boomer” and I have no problem with working a few extra years.   If I am financially wise, all of my OAS will be ‘clawed back”.   Anyone who is depending on OAS in their old age needs a wake up call.  There are not enough “young” people to work to support all the boomers unless the boomers die off quickly and don’t linger and cost the healthcare system an atrocious amount of money.   The boomers should have done what their parents did and gave birth to a whole lot more potential taypayers to financially support their “hard-earned’ retirement.

      • If you think the “Boomers” are in for a surprise, it’ll be regrettably worse for        “GEN X/Gen Y” generation when most will have known nothing but debt for their adult lives. Some self inflicted, some not. (Some may avoid a grim fate but far too many will not be free of personal debt in their life time.)

      •   Attention: H. Insider: You stated “Anyone who is depending on OAS in their old age needs a wake up call”.  Considering the fact that the claw back on the OAS only starts a when the retiree’s income exceeds $68,000, that means the vast majority of people will get the full OAS and for many of them, it will be the icing on the cake. Also your suggestion the Boomers should have had more kids, well they had the advantage of birth control and they were able to plan for smaller families and thus keep more of their wealth for themselves. But your suggestion has merit because if the boomers bred like rats or like the Catholics of old, we would need fewer immigrants many of whom are able to get their aging parents in and have them sponging off the OAS after a mere 10 years of residency.  

    • Hey, everybody, the Boomers aren’t an entitlement culture!!!

      Let’s claw back THEIR entitlements!

    • I love how we’re all being played like fiddles in these discussions. There are indeed real issues to discuss and real solutions to propose and instead of having some kind of broad-based social and political discussion about what should be done about it, we get some distracting intergenerational skirmish about who is spoiled and who is not; about who works hard and about who doesn’t. I’m sure finger-pointing feels really good in the heat of the moment, but we’re certainly no closer to any sensible solution. All these stupid quarrels do is remove 95% of us from contributing to the democratic process. 

  15. I had to work outside the home when my children were young.  It was not a choice, but a fact of life for us.  Bills had to be paid.  We do not have an extravagent lifestyle.  The days on our farm are long.  Happily married 25 years this July and never a vacation, not even an over-nighter.  Just work-work-work.  I am still working at the same job thankfully, but my kids are older so it is much easier to juggle.  My point is that I would like to have time for any grandchildren that may come along in the future since I didn’t have the time I wanted for my own children!  I really feel they suffered some, but we worked at it.  You really only get that first 14 years or so and then they don’t necessarily want to hang with their parents or grandparents-you see them less because their individual lives are beginning by that point.  I want the freedom to choose to retire or not at 65.  Why can’t we have a choice.  I try not to whine……..my parents didn’t have to fundraise for anything-some sports were even free if you were lucky to do a sport.  I think the only school expense my parents had were school pictures, that’s it.  There is soooo much government spending waste (all levels of governement) that this change is very frustrating to put it mildly.  There is something else they aren’t telling us because any other time, the contributions just go up some to compensate.  So why now are they not making any changes, just simply raising the age?  Why not then make it more lucrative to retire at 67 instead.  Those with excellent health will likely opt for that.  Let’s punish everyone for living longer, especially those that have worked hard to maintain and improve their health, with the prize being travel or whatever their hearts desire.  The only people that won’t care about this are the more affluent upper class / high end middle class.  They typically live longer anyway.  The government sees all our numbers when we file our tax returns.  That is how they set tax brackets.  And they set them to their advantage.  In other words, the middle class doesn’t stand a chance on getting ahead and breaking out of that cycle to a comfort zone.

    So, I was to my bank today to see how I can still retire by 65 or God forbid sooner.  It is a challenge to save enough for retirement.  If today’s generation of the aged / elderly are so badly off, how the heck am I supposed to be able to be ready enough-that is what is scaring me.  If they couldn’t do it then how on earth in todays economy am I supposed to be able to. More Kraft Dinner maybe.  I feel I am going to fall short for even a modest retirement lifestyle.  There is no such thing as the “golden years” anyway.

  16. This has gone too far, people at 65 can’t really perform most jobs anymore. They are tried very easily, this just a government campaign  to get people to keep working all their lives till they die so they don’t greatvacationspots.net and gossipmagazineonline.com have to pay out their hard earned retirement that the government promised them. Live is the USA and Canada is just getting worse and worse expecting people to work like slaves all their lives for the benefit of Corporations to earn more and more profits off the people.

    • You’re advertising again.

  17. I am 62 and I retired about 6 months ago from a physically demanding job.  It has always been my intention to collect OAP.  A couple of years from the collection date is not really the time to be telling me that the minimum age is going to rise.  As a middle class wage earner, I have paid into the community pot on the federal level, the provincial level and the municipal level.  My taxes and various levies have looked after a number of people…the old, the young, the unwilling, the unable and a multitude more.  I find it alarming that in the last number of years that we are moving to a “user pay” society because after all, ‘what could be more fair.’  As it becomes my turn to belly up to the trough, all of a sudden, it become unsustainable. (not to mention the requirement that I have to put up with young people who seem to I am a burden to society and mankind in general and an all around slacker for not adequately preparing fo my own  retirement)  Having said this, I can do the math….to few people trying to support too many.  But I do feel that there are more creative ways to address the problem.  Perhaps “claw” it back before the $112000 limit is reached.  Perhaps subsidize it with a generous donation from the pension plans of retired MLAs and MPs.(who apparently are not party to these restrictions)  Or my personal favorite…keep my OAP monies and allow me to withdraw the first $20,000 (annually) from my pension plan tax free.  May not work for everyone, but would work for many.  And fially, Do I have a sense of entitlment?  You damn right I do….I paid for it.

  18. this article is too full of common sense. the left cant wont be able to grasp the concept

  19. ! am over the age of 70 and still working, but have my own private practice now. I am lucky that I like my work but I have slowed down. Maybe older people can be given a lighter schedule e.g., 4 days a week or possibly given some tax incentive for working after a certain age.

  20. I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that a significant majority of the people advocating a rise in the age of OAS eligibility never would have qualified for OAS in the first place, because they make too much money.

    I don’t have a problem with the OAS eligibility age being raised, but I’m also upfront about the fact that I was never likely to qualify for OAS to begin with, so even raising the eligibility age to 150 doesn’t actually affect me personally in the slightest.  This is why they’re going after OAS first, because it’s presumably pretty easy to cobble together majority support simply by targeting the people who make too much money to qualify, the people who HOPE they’ll make too much money by retirement to qualify, and the people who make enough money that they fall in between the point of total ineligibility and the point at which claw-backs begin such that the impact of the change on them will be negligible.

    People making less than $68,000 will be hurt by OAS changes.  Many people making between $68,000 and $110,000 won’t be dramatically affected.  People making over $110,000 won’t be affected in the slightest.  It seems to me that changing OAS eligibility means asking the people least able to save privately for their retirement to save more, while asking the people most able to save privately for their retirement to continue to enjoy the status quo.

  21. Stephen Harper’s mistake was that he did not talk to Canadians about this.  He did not mention it during the election, did not create a dialogue about the issues, and worked to scuttle debate.  A majority government is not a license to dictate.

    What’s missing from the retirement debate is that Canadians do not have the same life expectancy.  Women are predicted to live to an age of 82.9 years, while men can expect to live 4.5 years less, to 78.3 years.  Raising the minimum retirement age unfairly hurts men much more than women.

  22. I think some work past 65 because they have to, and some because they want to or have family run businesses. There isn’t much one can do if they have to live off a small pension. Getting a job may not be what they want to, but have to and I don’t think that is right. These people paid their dues, worked their years and should be able to afford to retire, pay their bills and eat, without having to overwhelm themselves with the stress of working more years to make ends meet. Its hard enough to do so when you,re younger… I can,t imagine how hard it is when you are older.

  23. Mr Harper is a dictator and want to be American, a nation that glories in war. He is out of touch with average Canadians who want peace, security, social systems and universal care for all. Retirement at 65, think about! 47 years working to reach that age. Lets see Harper work that long! He wont with his fat pension. We do not have many starving seniors, but take away the benefits we have now and there will be.

    Only young people who have not yet put in their 47 plus years working would suggest that just because our life expectancy is higher now that we should work longer – the real reason is that our government spent the tax dollars that should be for the OAS fund was spent on wars and jet fighters we should never be involved with. Just look at the spending waste in Harpers office alone.

    Stop wasting tax dollars spend them where they will count (at home on Canadians) and we can retire with some years of health and happieness

  24. There are three things that workers hate their employer or the government to touch unless it’s to increase or improve it:  health care, pension and parking spot.  Harper grew up in Alberta politics where polititicans up to the 1990’s announced horrendous cut backs or hospital closures, etc and then backtracked halfway in a show of good faith and compromise all the while reaching the goal of their original agenda.  In this case the backtracking is the repeated, ad nauseum, mantra “it will not affect anyone presently receiving OAS and CPP” they believe that this will make retirees grateful and not care what happens to future retirees.  Older women, especially single women, will be the most affected by this and any other changes to OAS and CPP as they represent the poorest of retirees.  Large numbers of women, in the 1960’s through the early 1990’s took time to stay home to raise their children as daycare was unaffodable/non-existant and for most of those years there was none to little EI maternity pay which came later.  The other most vulnerable population is poor children.  Who knows maybe they are next on this government’s “agenda”. 

  25. Now I am 74 years of age and still working for pay.  My ancestors have almost 200 years in Canada, having lived through good times and bad, wars and depressions, here in Canada and overseas. My family members, immediate and extended, continue to struggle to survive one way or another, without much complaint.  Hopefully they represent the vast majority of Canadians.  It’s unfortunate that the Canadians crying and whining for attention look to me like lazy cowards.

  26. As other say, what a dishonest article. Pointing out other places raised their retirement age, without pointing out that many places were only raising it to 65 or less! Or that the States dealt with the issue in 1983…by kicking the can so far down the road no one would notice! Almost 30 years later it hasn’t started to raise there yet, but will soon…after all the policy makers and their friends and family that made the change are over 65 and long since retired! That’s the worst part in all this.

    Any strain on cost is happening right now and over the next 20 years not because of increasing life expectancy, but because the baby boomers are retiring. In 2030 the “strain” will start going down again, however, watch what will happen. They’ll raise the retirement age, starting in something like 2030! Kick it far enough down the road so all the baby boomers, the ones straining the system, can retire, then the Gen Xers and Yers will have to work harder and longer. It is going to be the most unfair change imaginable.

  27. It’s impressive to see any Canadian politician begin to address the major problems associated with the entitlement programs we have in Canada.  Who knows, maybe we might even see more than token feints at the other elephant in the room–health care.

  28. I think Harper should lower the age, that people can retire sooner so this way younger people have more jobs, yes i know most young people don’t know what hard work is ,thanks to the baby boomers we wanted our kids not to have it so hard as we did ,hard work didn’t kill anybody , so instead we have to bring in people from some where else and our older people have to work later in life.our school system sucks ,kids finish school when they are 18 if they where smart they keep going to school if not they can pump gas with there 13 years of schooling .The European school system is when you are 14 you decide if you are smart in the books or with your hands that’s where you branch of , by the time you are 18 you have a trade already and ready to work or like i said you are smart in the books you keep going to university or what ever fly to the moon , our school system wants to make astronauts out of all of them .lets put more young people to work . we can not forget schooling is a big business. and i am not against schooling education is good, and even better work is even better the school directs students the right way. it seems Canada has very smart people they all wants to push buttons no body wants to get dirty anymore , we need a healthy work force for the country to survive.     

  29. its funny you want people writing something ,if it doesn’t fit you you delete comment whats the use writing something if you are so narrow minded.  

  30. I remember – years ago – the retirement age was 70.  Times improved so the age was dropped to 65. Back then, life expectancy was 72 – today it is around 78 or higher. SO, what is wrong with a little longer work time – it is optional now.  We have been advised to save ie: TSFA – and it’s tax free. The retirement age HAS to be raised – there is no way around it.  When times pick up – it can be lowered again.  This is a worldwide dilemma – not just in Canada,

  31. Something doesn’t add up.  In the 1950s, a family could raise 6 kids on a single income.  Now it takes 2 incomes to raise 2 kids and we’re still so far in debt, we can’t afford to retire.  All this after 60 years of improvements in technology and productivity.  Is this what we call progress??

    We need to hit reset.  Reset on bigger houses.  Reset on electronics that have to be replaced every 3 years.  Reset on what used to be called ‘durable goods'(washers, driers, refrigerators) that used to last 20 years but now last 7 if you’re lucky.  Reset on that Mexican vacation every year (or twice a year).  Reset on jobs that don’t add value to society.

    Mollyp, if you’re happy with the job you have, then keep on doing it.  But there are lots of us who might want to pursue interests that don’t necessarily have an economic return.  Not every task of value means producing something that someone will pay for.  And lots of us are just plain sick of the miserable process of having to sell ourselves and our work.

    • Just doesn’t pay to work hard does it?  Blame it on the “trickle down” theory of economics.  Just not enough of it, trickled down!   Wasn’t intended that it should.

  32. Women live 6.5 years longer than men. Men should retire at 65 and women at 71.5.

  33. So both men and women get OAS pension for about 7 years. Gender equality.

  34. Nonsense.  A contract is a contract.  Millions of Canadians invested, planned, and worked diligently towards the fulfillment of the contract.

    This is such a con.  Elites, from corporate Canada to the old money of Upper and Lower Canada urged Canadians to sign on to this scam.  Now they say, “you can’t have it.”  “You just can’t have it!” 

    They’re gonna keep it.  They really didn’t mean it when they said if you worked hard you could retire and live the end of your days comfortably.  They’re gonna keep the money. 
    You poor hard working Canadian chump will just have to keep working, while they enjoy caviar on their yachts.

    So, they now own the government, and they can cancel the contract.   Are you gonna let this happen?


    • The OAS isn’t a contract. It’s not a pension that you have paid into. It is government largesse. They can give it, and they can take it away.

      • There’s the current government’s attitude, folks.  They think it’s their money. 

  35. The clawback of OAS doesn’t even START to kick in until an individual’s annual income reaches $70,000. Somehow I don’t think the lady in the photo has that kind of money coming in. LOWERING the clawback threshold to something far, far less makes much more sense. Right now the clawback affects only a tiny percentage of the wealthy. It should go deeper.

    Please everyone – don’t make this a generational arguement.

Sign in to comment.