StatsCan data sells retired boomers short
I hope not to be the burden to my community and country that Stats Can predicts
Though not yet having attained the august age of 65, I read with great interest Kevin Werner’s short yet well-researched piece recently on Hamilton’s aging population and its predicted impact on society.
As a baby boomer soon to turn 58 who was born in 1959, I was similarly surprised to learn from a simple Google search that my fellow Canadians who were also born in that year represent the largest cohort of the baby boomer category. Tongue in cheek, though somewhat seriously, I truly hope not to become the social and financial burden to my community and country that Statistics Canada postulates once I turn 65 in the year 2025.
Firstly, I have not yet, nor do I intend to ‘leave the workforce’ at age 65. Though sincerely grateful and indeed fortunate to be ‘retired’ from the teaching profession after 32 years, I, like many of my peers, some of them well into their 70s and in some cases 80s, continue to hold down more than one job, albeit in many cases ‘part-time’ and itinerant by description. We do this for many reasons, both economic and psychosocial I have found. Some of us still have children living at home or are supporting same to some degree, while almost all of us still love contributing and feeling valued in our communities for our experience, training and wisdom in a broad array of fields.
Additionally, and most importantly in my experience, we truly enjoy and benefit from the social contact, structure and routines provided by continued participation in the workforce which, symbiotically, is beneficial for our physical and emotional health thereby keeping us hopefully further away still from being a burden on the health care system. I consider myself truly fortunate to be able to supply teach in the HWDSB and look forward to continuing for as long as my energy and health permits.
I also work itinerantly for a local hockey school, the OMHA and Hockey Canada. And, the last time I checked, my bi-weekly pay stub clearly shows deductions for Provincial and Federal income taxes, along with CPP and EIC, continuing to be made, as well they should.
Such is the great reward for living in Canada where collectively we all benefit immensely from universal health care, a fair government pension and a safety net for those who may be between jobs. Additionally, the last time I reviewed my teacher’s pension cheque, I continue to pay my fair share of income tax as well, and I have no qualms with this either given that, like all Canadians, I get to live in the greatest democracy in the world.
So, for Statistics Canada to say, as Werner quotes ‘There will be more people leaving the workforce and drawing a pension and using health-care services, while a smaller proportion of the population is working and paying income tax for those services.’ is both false and disingenuous. Some of our city’s hardest working and most valued employees are senior citizens, each of whom still pays their fair share of income tax. Most of us see and often interact with these vibrant seniors working and contributing each and every day in our retail sector, factories, courtrooms, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, churches, community centres and restaurants to name a few sectors of the local economy.
Additionally, Canadians over the age of 65 continue to be actively contributing consumers in their local economies, buying cars, clothing, food and meals from which sales taxes are deducted and employment opportunities provided. Astonishingly, some Hamiltonians over the age of 65, like other Canadian seniors, still even have the energy to play golf, eat at restaurants, go to the movies, buy gifts for their grandchildren and travel within Canada, surprising though it may be to Statistics Canada.
Even my rudimentary training in economics tells me that the trickle-down financial ripple effect of these factors contribute greatly in many ways to our local and broader economy. So perhaps the next time Statistics Canada issues a report on the projected calamitous burden Canadians over 65 represent, they may also have the foresight and grace, if not respect, to more accurately and positively celebrate and document the immense quantitative and qualitative economic and social contributions this remarkable cohort will continue to provide.
We should all be truly grateful for senior citizen’s continued active participation in the economy and acknowledge their contributions, financial and otherwise.
Active seniors, like these pictured taking a break from a cycling tour, do more of value for our society than they’re given credit for. They have no intention of becoming a burden, unlike the picture painted by recently released StatsCan data.