Re­tirees have been over­looked in ar­ray of as­sis­tance pro­grams

Vancouver Sun - - OPIN­ION -

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

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