Stat­sCan data sells re­tired boomers short

I hope not to be the bur­den to my com­mu­nity and coun­try that Stats Can pre­dicts

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - BOB WATER­HOUSE Bob Water­house lives in Dun­das

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.

MARVIN JOSEPH, WASHINGTON POST

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.

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