Enjoying Golden Years … is it a Myth?

Seniors across Canada are facing many challenges in their ‘golden years’ mainly related to their inadequate pension incomes. These challenges are slowly gaining momentum not only due to the economic crisis but also because of the rapidly growing seniors population. Most of us are becoming quite aware that the rapidly changing seniors demographic will place greater demands on the CPP, OAS and GIS.

It should be of great concern to all of us that the government pension programs might not survive and, if they do, it will likely increase the tax burden. In addition, company pensions and retirement savings have been reduced or have disappeared due to corporate mismanagement, bankruptcy and also fraud. This means that many pensioners are facing bleak prospects in what is supposed to be their ‘golden years’.

The consequence of shrinking pension income is that a growing number of seniors are not only concerned about their ability to pay for basic needs but also dealing with unforeseen expenses related to their health care. As we are all aware, not all health care costs are covered by OHIP and this is of concern to seniors. Seniors with serious health issues will have to allocate more of their income to cover this cost. Vulnerable seniors would have some relief if pensions were properly indexed to keep up with cost of living increases.

As we age we have to accept that we will face a range of health issues associated with ageing. So any discussion of ‘enjoying our golden years’ should include the impact that changing demographics will have on Long Term Care. Seniors of modest incomes worry about the cost and level of care they will receive at Long Term Care and Assisted Living facilities and also home care services.  The challenge of meeting the needs of our seniors’ long term care will be addressed in a separate article.

The greatest positive impact on the lifestyle of vulnerable seniors would be for the Federal Government to re-visit the present income tax system as it is applies to low-income seniors. These seniors should not have to pay taxes on their pensions or on the modest savings they managed to put aside for retirement.  After all, seniors have contributed to the growth and success of our nation for most of their working lives.  Our politicians need to give a lot more consideration to pension reforms that will improve the lives of seniors struggling on meagre pensions. Otherwise, we are left to ponder this question: Is enjoying ‘golden years’ nothing but a myth?


NOTE: The challenge of reforming Canada’s pension programs has been addressed in a publication by Keith Ambachtshee of the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto). That publication Benefactors Lecture 2009,  Pension Reform: How Canada Can Lead the World presents a comprehensive view of our present pension programs.  While the recommendation seem to be a workable alternative model to better manage the predicted pensions crisis, it is also somewhat critical of our government’s approach of ‘saying’ and ‘not doing’ when it comes to pension reform. Refer to these links: 
Pension Reform: How Canada Can Lead the World
Pension Reform: How Canada Can Lead the World
Pension reform not getting any younger
Pension reform not getting any younger

About Golden Wave Movement Canada

The Golden Wave Movement is a made up of engaged individuals who have serious concerns about the increasing challenges retirees surviving on modest pension incomes face nowadays. While our main purpose is to raise awareness of the financial difficulties faced by this vulnerable group of citizens, we also intend to raise awareness regarding challenges related to their physical, emotional and psychological well-being and how to enjoy their golden years.
This entry was posted in Baby boomers, Canada Pension Plan, Cost of Living, Elder Care, Golden Years, Guaranteed Income Supplement, Health Care, Indexing pensions, Inflation, Long Term Care, Old Age Security, Pension Reform, Pensioners, Seniors demographic, Seniors fixed income and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Enjoying Golden Years … is it a Myth?

  1. Rose says:

    I have worked all my life and my earnings were taxed to the hilt when I was working. Now that I am retired I am also taxed to the hilt. Our government needs to have another look at how pensions and pensioners’ savings are taxed. I certainly didn’t envisage that I would be counting every dollar (sorry, I meant blind cent) of my monthly pension. I have no luxuries and certainly don’t enjoy this so-called better life that I hear about. Golden years have become nothing more than ‘dull and tarnished years’ with no shine! Why can’t Canada take better care of its older citizens? We pensioners need to start a grassroots campaign to get the government to treat us fairly.


  2. Vivienne says:

    I checked some of your news links and it is obvious that pensioners in many western countries have been betrayed by their governments. Isn’t there anywhere in the west where pensioners are respected and not seen as useless? Today’s pensioners have worked so hard, paid taxes and for years contributed to our communities and now have to struggle to survive. And we are taxed again on our hard earned retirement savings! Golden years, my foot! Pensioners need a tax break! We need pension reform. Is there anyway we can get rid of this fraudulent financial system. Those greedy but powerful bankers and politicians have brought us this recession! Too frequently we hear stories of questionable or unethical conduct by politicians and how millions of our tax dollars are misused. In other parts of the world it is called ‘corruption’ but in the west it is called a ‘financial scandal’. Guess it sounds more civilized!


  3. Doug says:

    Retirees with modest incomes would definitely benefit from raising the ceiling of the GIS. That added GIS income would go a long way in easing the struggle we low-income pensioners face. As for those who had their savings and investment devastasted in the economic downturn, I believe in all fairness the government should give some consideration for tax relief. Pensionsers and other citizens did not cause the economic downturn. It was the banks, the investment houses, shady financial undertakings, insider trading and the fact that there is very little government regulation in place in the US and elsewhere to protect people’s pensions and retirement savings. That’s capitalism for you. It is important to note that due to increased life expectancy and the expanding seniors demographic the voting power of pensioners is growing at a very fast rate and that can, and will, impact the democratic process in a major way. The Conservaties, Liberals, NDP, Green Party, and who ever else wants to run this country should take careful note of that changing demographic and the changing mood of this well-educated group. We have a weapon and that weapon is our vote.


  4. KSM says:

    Seems to me that Canada’s governments will be running deficits forever unless something is done to create a more equitable society. Are we on the way to becoming like Iceland and Greece and those crumbling economies of Europe? Since I certainly won’t enjoy the gold plated pensions of public sector workers I have to watch helplessly as my paltry and insecure company pension dwindles and my modest RSP savings are battered because of unbalanced fiscal policy, corporate greed and plain fraud. That is, unless we deal with the unthinkable in a capitalist system ….. lessening the class divide by introducing a fairer tax system! I can dream, can’t I …. can’t see that happening anytime soon. I doubt whether the Federal budget will bring good any news for pensioners.


  5. Inez says:

    For years our Federal and provincial governments were aware of the growing seniors population and how that would impact pensions as well as the economic structure of our country. Yet, they seem so impotent in terms of proper planning to meet this awesome challenge. Just where did the government think the money would come from to sustain the pension fund with so many boomers retiring all at once? You have to have a good plan in place to deal with a difficult situation that is imminent. If retirees’ incomes continue to be reduced and reach poverty level they will pay less tax and have to rely on GIS and various social programs. Will anything be left over to cover health care costs? Ongoing reduced income will have a major impact on consumption (the engine of our capitalist system) and where will that leave us all? I have to agree that enjoying ‘golden years’ is all but a myth. No one will be enjoying anything except maybe those fat cats that run the financial industry. Welcome back to the feudal system of the middle ages.


  6. Sandy P says:

    So the federal government wants to have ‘consultations’ on Pension reform! Who will be the ones managing these consultations? Will it the Tories supporters and their friends who are given the work Silly questions… we know that those people will be be highly paid with our tax dollars. I don’t believe for a minute that Minister Flaherty and his brainy comrades dont’ know exactly what Pension Reform entails. It is a waste of time and a total waste of our money. Haven’t they paid any attention to the CD Howe report you mentioned in this article? If anything, the government should focussing more on how to manage health care costs related to our growing ageing population.
    Sandy P


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