Originally appeared in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 27, Number 21 October 17, 2019
Aging is an inevitable aspect of living. Its absence from general school curricula has generation after generation of young adults living in the moment, not thinking or planning too far ahead, thus ignorant and unprepared for retirement and old age. The unpreparedness is exacerbated when leadership couldn’t be bothered to dispense advice regarding planning for old age and there are no peers to encourage same.
Add to the mix expressions and idealised notions regarding aging, like “aging gracefully,” “golden years” “good old age,” and “age brings reason,” and entrenched is the perception of a certain amount of esteem and comfort with age. The reality is far from. Studies show the elderly have high poverty rates, and are a vulnerable population.
Quebec government pension kicks in at 60. Work history determines the amount. Canada federal pension kicks in at 65. To qualify for the maximum payout ($600+) one had to have resided in Canada for 40 years, after the age of 18.
Consider the concept of “working under the table”: A citizen or landed immigrant might believe they are getting over by having no taxes deducted from source by their employer; they have more disposable income. The employer might encourage and support the practice to exploit the worker and to cheat the government. But by not paying into the system; not having a work history, they cannot collect any pension from Quebec. The same goes for hustlers and those, who, barring medical condition, scorn work.
Age is something that silently creeps up on us. Aging shouldn’t catch you unawares. Plan for your retirement. If you already have, great! Even if it’s too late for you, you can still save a life by encouraging your children, your grandchildren and the younger people you know to pursue meaningful employment, invest, save; put aside money for a rainy day and their retirement, and if self-employed, make sure to pay into the system.
Why prepare for retirement? To maintain your lifestyle/afford the retirement you want. You could be forced into early retirement by cutbacks or health. You can’t borrow money for retirement. It costs more to live longer. Inflation will take a chunk out of your savings. You will probably need long-term care. Your children might not be financially independent and able or willing to contribute to your support. Health care costs keep rising.
Bear in mind the adage, “No one plans to fail; people fail to plan.”
N Oji Mzilikazi is the author of Shards of Glass and president of the Council for Black Aging Community of Montreal Inc.
The Council’s 18th Conference, Health & Wellness: Beating The Odds takes place October 26, 2019, at Le Nouvel Hotel &Spa Info: 514-935-4951