Retirees have been overlooked in array of assistance programs
As much as all the financial help that the federal and provincial governments are providing to workers, parents and small businesses is laudatory, there is one segment of the population that is being completely overlooked, namely retirees and seniors.
Sure, Ottawa threw a largely meaningless bone to retirees by reducing the minimum mandatory annual withdrawal from RRIFS, but this really does nothing to help retirees who are on fixed incomes, watching their retirement nest eggs evaporate in the daily gyrations of the stock market. This is particularly problematic for those retirees who don’t have the defined-benefit pensions that federal and provincial retirees enjoy. Those of us who prudently built up our RRSP and TFSA portfolios to see us through retirement are watching stock values drop and dividends being cut. In the extremely low-interest rate environment we find ourselves in (which with the size of government debt is not likely to change much in the foreseeable future), many of us had, and continue to have, no choice but to invest in stocks to provide the level of income we need for retirement.
A simple means of providing some limited relief to retirees would be for the federal government to allow tax-free withdrawals from our RRSPS and RRIFS. These could be limited to a maximum annual amount ($50,000 would be a good start for this year). This plan would not require the injection of any more money from Ottawa, although it would of course reduce future government revenues somewhat.
If we are all “in this together,” perhaps some consideration for seniors and retirees is in order.
Rolf Kaplun, North Vancouver