Is tourism starting to make a comeback?

September 28, 2023

After a brutal couple of pandemic-driven years, it appears tourism may be starting to make a comeback.

Over in Manitoba, reports Global News, “hotel occupancies are back to 2019 levels month over month, indicating the tourism industry is making a full recovery from disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This is the year of tourism,” states Nathalie Thiesen of Economic Development Winnipeg in the article.

More people have been coming to the city’s events, such as the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, Fringe Theatre Festival, Folk Fest and Folkorama, the article notes.

“It’s great for downtown and the recovery of some of the hardest hit businesses and areas of the city,” states Thiesen in the article.

It’s a similar story in B.C., reports the Richmond News. There, tourism-related employment has just hit a five-year high.

“New Statistics Canada data show 362,000 tourism employees in B.C. in July, up 6,500 from the 355,500 employees in June, and the most jobs in the sector since August 2018, when there were 368,000 employees, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey,” the article notes.

“The 2023 numbers compare with 359,250 tourism employees in the province in July 2019, and 351,750 tourism employees in B.C. in June 2019,” the News reports.

Nationwide, the numbers are beginning to return to “normal,” reports the Hamilton Spectator.

Marc Seguin of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada tells the Spectator that as recently as 2019, Canada “achieved $105 billion in total tourism spending, with $42 billion of that figure stemming from business travel.”

During the pandemic, Seguin states in the article, “total tourism spending dropped by half and business events dropped to near zero.”

Business trips are increasing, the article notes, with 6.4 million business trips logged for the last quarter of 2022 — still down from the 7.2 million in the last quarter of 2019.

An important factor impacting the rebound of travel is, of course, inflation, the article points out.

“People are willing to spend more at the moment to travel,” states Frederic Dimanche of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Toronto Metropolitan University in the article. “That leverages the airlines or the hotels to set their prices at a higher level than they used to, because they want to make up for lost revenues during the COVID crisis.”

But the rising cost of travelling may be starting to hamper tourism’s recovery, warns CTV News Regina.

“Over the past three years, the tourism industry had been clawing its way back to pre-pandemic numbers, however, a new report by TD Bank found the pace of recovery started to slow this year,” the broadcaster reports.

The TD report cites “financial challenges in Canada, such as higher interest rates, a slowing job market and broader tourism slowdowns seen both domestically and internationally” as the chief reasons for the slowing recovery.

While Alberta and B.C. visits are beginning to approach 2019 levels again, the rebound is slower in Saskatchewan, the article notes.

“Saskatchewan… has lagged when it comes to international travel. Visits to the Prairie province are 40 per cent below the 2019 average,” CTV reports, adding that the TD report suggests “this decline might be in part due to same-day tourists, whose numbers have fallen at less than 50 per cent pre-pandemic levels.”

Let’s hope this overall tourism recovery continues — there’s a lot of spin-off benefits from tourism that help the economy.

Travelling, as the articles note, can be a little pricey — even a car trip requires gas, maybe hotels, restaurant meals and so on. Factor in rail or airfare or cruise ship costs and the impact on your wallet grows. That’s why saving for retirement — the period of your life when you’ll have the most time for travelling — is important.

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, consider signing up for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will grow your savings dollars in a pooled, professionally managed fund at a very competitive cost. When it’s time to update the passport and book tickets, SPP is able to convert your savings into retirement income, including the option of a lifetime monthly annuity payment. Be sure to check out SPP today!

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

A one-sentence summary of what retirement is like

June 29, 2023

As our two Shelties (Duncan and Phoebe) pulled us around the neighbourhood the other day, we came upon a small group of younger folks — parents of school aged kids — enjoying a sunny late spring afternoon.

After some friendly chatting, talk turned to retirement. “You two are both retired now — what’s it like?”

After thinking a bit, our reply was this — “being retired is like every day is a Sunday.” It is not like every day is a vacation day — who could afford that — so it is more like the weekend, we explained. They liked that.

So Save with SPP decided to do a quick search for other peoples’ takes — ideally a short sentence — on what retirement is like.

We started by asking our new AI chat thingie what it thought retirement is like — in one sentence.

“Retirement is the time of life when one chooses to leave the workforce behind and live on savings, passive income, or benefits,” the AI doodad replied. OK, good, but we were thinking more of what it is like rather than what is literally is.

At the AAG website, a writer had a similar view to our own. When you are retired, the article notes, “now Fridays aren’t the best day of the week any more — they all are!”

A fairly recent article from Forbes didn’t boil it down to one sentence, but said these ten words are the ones most often used to describe retirement — “relax, happy, travel, retirement (of course), family, fun, success, freedom, money and fulfilled.”  This may not be an actual sentence but it captures a lot of what it’s like.

“Retirement is not the end of the road. It is the beginning of the open highway.” This two-sentence statement, original author unknown, was posted on the Southern Living website.

“We work all our lives so we can retire so we can do what we want with our time and the way we define or spend our time defines who we are and what we value,” states Bruce Linton. His quote is featured on the Goalcast website.

On the Goodreads website writer Charles Baxter describes retirement as being “gainfully unemployed; very proud of it too.” We like this one.

“Retirement is the best gift. No gold watch or plaque could ever top it,” state the folks at the Chapparal Winds Retirement Community website.

If there’s a common thread to all this, it’s that retirement means that your time is now yours, and it is up to you to decide what you’ll do with the time.

We saw that “money” was mentioned by Forbes magazine, and it’s true that money is part of it. The more you have when you retire, the more options you’ll have for your free time. So if you haven’t started saving for retirement — and maybe don’t have a pension or retirement savings plan through work — you ought to think about the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room can join. You can contribute as much as you want to each year (up to your personal RRSP room limit), and if you want to consolidate savings from other RRSPs into SPP, you can transfer any amount in. It’s how SPP makes your savings options limitless. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Will they still need you, will they still feed you, when you’re 64?

May 25, 2023

Boomers will recall what happened where our parents retired. It was literally, in most cases, getting the gold watch at 65 and leaving the workforce entirely for a leisurely life of golf, visiting relatives, the bridge club, and so on.

Turn the clock forward from the 1980s to the present, and it’s a very different story.

According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of Canadians of senior age is growing. In 2020, the agency reports, “18 per cent of the Canadian population were aged 65 and older,” a percentage expected to grow to 24 per cent by the end of the 2030s.

Our older folks “are living longer and healthier than previous generations,” and that’s one reason why more of them than ever are working or volunteering, the article notes. Stats Canada reports that 13.8 per cent of Canadian seniors were working or volunteering in 2020, up from just six per cent 20 years earlier.

Is it just health and vitality that’s keeping older folks working?

A recent H&R Block Canada survey found that 50 per cent of those surveyed planned “to have a side gig when they retire.”

That may be driven by the reality that they can’t afford to fully retire at 65, notes the media release setting out the survey results. “Fifty-two per cent don’t feel they have enough money left at the end of the month to save for their retirement,” the release notes. And only 46 per cent “feel good about their retirement strategy,” the release notes.

“Not so long ago, the traditional vision of retirement was that at around 65 years old, Canadians ‘hung up their hats’ and celebrated the end of full-time employment. Enjoying the steady income of their company/government pension, they were ready to embrace new life ventures in pursuit of the things they never previously had time for,” states Peter Bruno, President of H&R Block Canada, in the release. “What we’re seeing now is that the vision for retirement has evolved dramatically – fuelled by shifts in tax-friendly savings plan options, evolving workforce realities, the gig economy, and the prevailing economic environment.”  

An article in Business Insider suggests the rising cost of living is also a factor.

“Seniors are re-entering the workforce in growing numbers,” the article reports, citing a report from USA Today. “As inflation squeezes them out of retirement, many are taking jobs as cashiers, retail associates, and hosts at local restaurants, among other service industry jobs,” Business Insider reports.

Steve Weeks, 69, says he went back to work at a Florida restaurant because “the extra money is helpful.” The article goes on to say that older workers are seen by many as being “more dependable, displaying higher levels of punctuality, lower absenteeism, and less inclination towards job-hopping.”

There can be other, non-monetary benefits derived from working into your senior years, reports Harvard Health Publishing.

“There’s increasing evidence that the payoff of working past age 65 may go beyond income. Some studies have linked working past retirement with better health and longevity,” the article notes.

“A 2016 study of about 3,000 people, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggested that working even one more year beyond retirement age was associated with a nine per cent to 11 per cent lower risk of dying during the 18-year study period, regardless of health,” the article continues.

Another study found that “people who worked past age 65 were about three times more likely to report being in good health and about half as likely to have serious health problems, such as cancer or heart disease,” the article notes. Research has also established a link between working past retirement age and “a reduced risk of dementia and heart attack.”

Most of the folks we know still working at part-time or volunteer jobs cite the benefit of being part of a time, and having a purpose and sense of belonging. You do miss social interaction with workplace friends after you hang up the ID badge.

If you’re a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP), and plan to work beyond age 65, be aware that the plan allows you to start turning savings into income as late as late as age 71. So if you work after turning 65, you can still contribute to your SPP pension nest egg for another six years. It’s another helpful feature of SPP, which has helped deliver retirement security since 1986.

Another great bit of news — SPP members can now make annual contributions equal to their available registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room! There is no longer an annual limit on how much you can contribute to SPP, and as well, there is no limit on how much you can transfer into SPP from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). SPP retirement saving is now limitless!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Experts warn of health risks if you don’t stay active in retirement

April 20, 2023

Those of us still slogging away at our jobs — maybe working from home, or perhaps beginning our return to the shop — like to dream of a future beyond work, where we’re retired and able to do whatever we want.

But if “doing what we want” is zoning out, drinking coffee, and watching movies from the couch, there could be problems lurking ahead. Save with SPP took a look around to find out what people are saying about the dangers of inactivity in retirement.

According to information from the World Health Organization, cited by the Step2Health blog, physical inactivity is pretty widespread. “Sixty to 85 per cent of people globally lead a sedentary lifestyle,” the blog reports.

“Studies show that sedentary behavior, particularly in the elderly, is detrimental to their health. Medical experts believe that older people sitting too much or spending extended periods in bed are more prone to the risks of chronic health problems such as heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer,” the blog notes.

In the U.S., the Center for a Secure Retirement also concludes that “long periods of inactivity are bad for our health.”

“Retirees are particularly vulnerable to sedentary behavior. Retirement is associated with a 10 per cent decrease in moderate to vigorous physical activity and a 13 to 29 per cent increase in TV watching, according to a 2018 study from the National Institute of Health,” the Center notes.

The Center recommends that seniors “take a five minute walk every two hours,” or “stand and march in place during commercials while watching TV.” Another bit of advice is to “walk around, pacing, while you are on the phone” and to “do pushups against the wall while waiting for the oven to heat up or the microwave to finish cooking.”

The BBC also takes the view that an inactive retirement can have negative impacts on both your physical and mental health.

“Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs suggests that while retirement may initially benefit health — by reducing stress and creating time for other activities — adverse effects increase the longer retirement goes on,” reports the BBC.

“It found retirement increases the chances of suffering from clinical depression by around 40 per cent and of having at least one diagnosed physical illness by 60 per cent,” the article continues.

It’s inactivity that can be a chief cause of these problems, the BBC report explains.

“It may be there is no imperative to get up and out of the house, as there was when there was a daily journey to work,” the article notes. “Or it may be that a health problem has meant someone cannot – or does not want to – get out and about.”

An antidote, the network adds, is physical activity.

“Age UK runs a programme called Fit as a Fiddle, which encourages older people to keep physically active — as well as to eat healthily and look after their mental health,” reports the broadcaster. “Simply walking can offer great benefits, including boosting your mood, as can gentle exercise classes.”

Let’s recap. If you decide to spend your retirement sitting around at home, your physical health can decline, and the isolation may impact your mental health. Even light activity can help prevent these problems.

So it’s probably an important part of your retirement plan to think of what you’ll do to keep active after you log out for the last time. Consider taking a dance class, or painting lessons, or volunteering, just to get you out of the house and moving around. Your future you will be glad you thought about this.

And your future you will be pleased if you’ve chosen the Saskatchewan Pension Plan to help you save up for life after work. SPP has been helping Canadians save for retirement for more than 35 years. Let SPP do the heavy lifting of investing your nest egg — via a pooled fund and low management costs — so that you’ll enjoy a nice, extra income stream when you hang up your name tag for the last time.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

A look at things you can do to feel a little younger

August 18, 2022

You feel it on the dog walk, on the dance floor, or on the golf course. That knee is a little stiff, that back is a little achey, you’re feeling a bit low energy… the list goes on. What can those of us of a certain age (advanced) do to combat against the feeling that we’re turning into an old car in dire need of a trip to the auto mechanic’s? Save with SPP took a look around to get some answers.

The Huffington Post basically advises us oldsters to snap out of it, and not give in to aging. Develop, we are told, a positive mental attitude about aging, and look forward to life ahead at 75, 85 and beyond. “Don’t act your age,” the Post advises. “The key to psychological health is how you feel inside, not your chronological age or your physical appearance,” the article notes.

“Feeling old is a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if a person genuinely feels too old to do a physical activity, such as hiking a mountain, she is apt to cut back on the activity. Once she does, her muscles will start to shrink from lack of use, and her bones may get smaller, and she may cut back her activities even more,” the article warns.

“Avoid this rut by continually doing things like exercise as you age. You are as young as you feel,” the Post tells us.  The Post also thinks we should keep active, even continuing to work after retirement age. “Work, actual or volunteer, is in part what keeps people living to advanced ages. If your full-time career is too taxing, consider working part-time, switching to a less stressful job, or volunteering,” the Post reports.

A final key point was “seeing aging as an opportunity,” the article states.

“Those who believed aging was no big deal were able to climb stairs, do housework, work full-time, go out socially, and do other activities associated with younger people. And they lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive ideas about aging,” the article notes.

At the Stay Young Healthy blog there are 10 ideas for youthfulness on offer.

The blog advises us to exercise every day.

“For staying young, you have to leave your comfortable life and get into the habit of working out daily… just go for a morning walk for 30 minutes, do jogging in an open area or run for 20-30 minutes daily,” the blog advises.

Other ideas include a balanced diet, making sure you are a healthy weight, and reducing stress, the blog adds.

The VitaMedica blog offers up 20 tips on how to look and feel younger, including staying out of the sun, drinking plenty of water, avoiding tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, and having a planned “de-stressing” time.

“Staying young means stressing less. Set aside a small chunk of time every day, about 10-20 minutes, to relax, meditate, or just breathe deeply, while letting worries melt away and helping yourself look younger naturally,” the blog advises.

So, what we’ve learned here is that a lot of the downside of aging is having a negative attitude about it. Rather than regretting the passage of time and wishing we were young again, better to enjoy how we are and work on keeping our bodies and minds active and out of the sun. Less is more when it comes to smokes, booze and java.

There’s no stress worse than work-related stress. We found yoga was a great way to give your mind and body a mid-week vacation from meetings, deadlines, project plans, and “deliverables.” The advice of having 30 minutes set aside daily for exercise is also very astute.

Stress about money is probably on the top 5 list of worries as well. You can ease your future mind by putting away some money today for your retirement tomorrow. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been busily building retirement nest eggs since 1986. They’ll invest your contributions professionally, at a low cost, and will help turn your savings into future retirement income. Check them out today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Answering the age-old question – what retirement has been like?

August 11, 2022

We are frequently asked by former colleagues and friends still labouring in the workplace what retirement is like. It’s a somewhat difficult question to answer, but Save with SPP will give it a whirl in the hopes it helps others plan things out.

It seems impossible to imagine not working when you are, in fact, working. We think of vacation or long weekends as “time off,” but with all of those there is that last-day little ripple of dread – oh dear, one more afternoon in the sun and it’s back at work. So, retirement is not like that.

We had a lot of adjustments to make to transition from full-time work to receiving a pension and working as a freelancer. First, there was shutting down the rental condo in T.O. that was needed for this guy to work in Toronto during the week and be home in Ottawa for the weekends. We bought in Ottawa and rented in Toronto. So, retiring from the Toronto job meant packing up the little condo, giving notice, disconnecting cable and phone, and ending years of frequent train travel between points. That was a huge savings in our monthly budget – we went from two of everything to one of everything.

That helped, because even a very good pension only provided about half of what we had made at work. Getting less to live on was hugely offset by a drop in living costs; we were lucky in that regard to have had a very good work pension from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan.

The boss retired from working at an Ottawa hospital the next year, but at time of writing is still working at a different hospital.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan figures into both our retirement plans, and here’s how.

When we bought the house in Ottawa, we were engaged but not yet married, and that allowed us to take part in the Home Buyers’ Program. While looking around for a place to repay the money we had withdrawn for the house, we discovered an article by our friend Sheryl Smolkin, and loved the idea of a plan that resembled a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) but had the additional extra feature of an annuity. The fact that it was not-for-profit and had far lower fees than a retail mutual fund was another sell. So, this guy was in.

Our own SPP account now represents more than twice what we took out for the house, and we add to it annually. Once we are fully retired – maybe in five years – we’ll start collecting it!

The boss soon found that working three or four days a week AND drawing a pension created a big of an income tax headache – the paying kind. So, we got her to sign up for SPP, and began contributing annually while also transferring money in from her various RRSPs. The tax-deductible SPP contributions fixed a tax problem and helped turn balances owing into refunds.

When she retires in February, part of her retirement earnings will be a monthly SPP annuity of about $500. That’s going to be a big help for her, as it will add to her retirement earnings and narrow the gap between what she made before she retired and what she is making after.

We have learned a few important things in this process.

  1. When comparing your before-retirement income to your after-retirement income, be sure to do a net-to-net comparison, not gross to gross. Why? If your income goes down, so do your taxes – so the perceived “gap” may be less than you think. As well, you may not be paying for the Canada Pension Plan anymore, or other payroll deductions like union dues, parking, and so on. Net to net.
  2. You’re likely only going to get a pension payment once per month. If you are used to getting paid monthly, you’ll be fine. It takes some getting used to if you were paid twice a month or every two weeks. Adjust your thinking accordingly.
  3. Your stresses will change, but probably won’t disappear. Instead of worrying about meetings, promotions, career changes, traffic and so on you’ll find you are more focused on family, taking care of the old ones and helping the young ones. No meetings, sure, but still things to worry about.
  4. You have time to learn new things. We’re line dancing, and this guy is golfing more and actually getting better on guitar. The line dancing has led us to meeting new people and we’re going on a trip to Nashville in the fall. So, make sure you are still doing something that allows you to have new social contacts in your life.

We conclude by noting that retirement almost seemed scary when we were working. No more structured workweek with meetings, assignments, annual reviews, and the like. Those things definitely required attention in the past, but now there are new and more interesting things to focus on. So, don’t be afraid of life after work.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Looking back on what the experts say – Save with SPP

July 21, 2022

Summertime, and while the living is easy, it’s not always easy to get people on the phone for an interview. We get it – there’s only a few short months of great weather in this country, after all.

So, Save with SPP had a look back on what we’ve learned about retirement and saving over the past while through past interviews, and via book reviews, from industry experts and leaders.

Derek Dobson, CEO and Plan Manager of the Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology Pension Plan, pointed to new research from the Canadian Public Pension Leadership Council that showed the economic value of pension dollars.  The study found that $16.72 of economic activity arises from every $10 paid out from a pension plan, notes Dobson. And that type of benefit comes from efficient plans, he explains. “Any plan that uses experienced investment professionals, and pooling – I include the Saskatchewan Pension Plan as an example of that – is delivering pensions efficiently,” he tells Save with SPP.

In an interview about the ins and outs of registered retirement income funds (RRIFs), BMO’s James McCreath noted that converting some or all of your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to an annuity instead of moving it to a RRIF is also an option.

“As interest rates rise, the functionality and usefulness of annuities go up,” he told Save with SPP. You can read the full interview here.

Prof. Luc Godbout, remarking on the trend of people working longer, had an idea on how to tweak the retirement system to accommodate the needs of older workers.  Allowing Canadians to postpone Old Age Security until age 75, and moving the conversion dates for RRSPs/RRIFs to 75, would “optimize the mechanics of pension plans, and also encourage Canadians to remain in the workforce, which improves health and also helps with Canada’s looming labour shortage.” Here’s where you can find the full article.

The author of Getting Out of Debt, Michael Steven, had some interesting thoughts on the importance of saving (once debt is under control).

“Saving requires discipline, a habit you build over time. It can be hard to save instead of spend, but if you have to attain financial freedom, then saving is one of those things you will have to embrace.” You can read the rest of our book review here.

There’s a lot to the broad topic of retirement and saving. For sure, belonging to a workplace pension plan is a key step towards retirement security. If you are saving on your own, you do need to understand the “decumulation stage” when savings are converted to income, either via an annuity or through drawing down a RRIF or similar vehicle. If you don’t have a lot of savings and have boomed your way into your 60s, then the proposed federal changes to benefits discussed by Prof. Godbout may make sense for you. But at the end of the day, as the old saying goes, it’s not what you make, but what you save, that helps your future self paddle through the waters of retirement.

If you don’t have a pension plan at work, and/or haven’t started saving for retirement yet, help is at hand. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is open to any Canadian with RRSP room, and offers pooled investing, low-fee investment management, and many retirement income options including annuities. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Some lazy ways to get leaner and healthier

February 17, 2022

A wise employer once suggested that the best way to get a problem solved quickly was to turn to one’s laziest employee. By nature, that person would think of the quickest and usually simplest way to fix things.

Can the same thinking be applied to health and fitness? Are there ways to achieve health and fitness goals that don’t require “putting in the work,” and “giving it 110 per cent,” for those of us averse to 6 a.m. runs and “boot camp” workouts? Save with SPP sure hopes that’s the case, and took a look around to see what’s out there.

The PureWow blog on Yahoo! News offers some suggestions. “Just walk more,” the blog advises. “Walking is, like, the easiest exercise. It is also super simple to incorporate more of it into your day.” Park farther from where you’re going, get off the bus, LRT or subway a few stops earlier, or take the stairs instead of the elevator, the blog advises.

The blog also recommends “Deskercise,” little workouts that can be done while you’re working, giving yourself non-food incentives if you do manage to get to the gym, and to “do your chores.” A video on their site shows these workouts.

“Did you know that chasing your dog around burns 100 calories in 30 minutes? Don’t limit `exercise’ to what you do in a sweaty gym. Turn everyday tasks like grocery shopping or cooking into mini workouts by doing them a little faster. And hey, the sooner the kitchen’s clean, the sooner you can get back to Netflix,” the blog post advises.

Over at MSN, the Lifestyle Asia blog suggests some simple, non-workout weight loss tips.

Drinking half a litre of water before having a meal “can help in shedding those extra kilos,” the blog advises. More water makes your body burn calories more efficiently, the post continues, and the average person should consume 3.7 litres a day of water.

Sunshine helps us “soak up some Vitamin D,” the post continues. Some studies have suggested that those of us with lower levels of Vitamin D tend to be heavier, the article says.

Other lazy ideas include more sleep (an easy one for the lazy) and to “stay stress free,” through yoga and meditation.

Across the pond, The Mirror sees staying flexible as an easy path towards health.

Putting your hands behind your head “stretches muscles at the top of your back and the back of your upper arms which can help improve upper back posture and reduce shoulder inflammation,” the article notes. Other recommendations are gentle hamstring stretches, to “sway side to side” to relaxing music as you sit, and to do a simple “Sphinx” stretch while watching TV.

Finally, Rolling Stone magazine suggests simple home exercise with free weights, getting a yoga mat, and getting back into the schoolyard activity of skipping.

These are all good suggestions. The takeaway seems to be to avoid doing absolutely nothing at all to improve your health or diet. Start with one small new thing, make it a habit, and add more, and then away you go.

It’s just like saving for retirement. If you’ve got a Saskatchewan Pension Plan account, start small, and save amounts you can afford. Then make it regular, and then automatic (via direct deposits from your bank account), and watch your retirement savings grow!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Pandemic created a wave of migration to smaller towns and other provinces – will it continue?

November 4, 2021

Many people young and old made a big change in their living arrangements during the pandemic.

Younger people – liberated from having to go to the office each day – sought more affordable housing in other cities or provinces. City dwellers generally, including retirees, wondered if it would be safer during times of COVID to move to places with lower infection rates.

Save with SPP took a look around the Interweb to see how this is playing out now that the pandemic is (hopefully) starting to turn the final corner towards “over.”

Better Dwelling magazine reports on how people have left Ontario to live in Atlantic Canada. In the second quarter of 2021, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick attracted 4,678 and 2,145 interprovincial newcomers. Ontario saw an outflow of 11,857 people in the same quarter, the magazine reports.

What’s the attraction?

“Lower COVID spread in the Maritimes probably amplified the region’s appeal. But relatively affordable housing was likely an even bigger draw, especially as home prices skyrocketed in already-expensive parts of the country and more Canadians were able to work remotely,” states RBC economist Carrie Freestone in the article. 

“With housing affordability worsening in major urban markets in Central Canada, this may mark the beginning of a trend: young talent moving east for an improved quality of life,” she tells Better Dwelling.

But it’s not just Ontario that is seeing people move. Closer to home, Alberta is also seeing people pack up to start over elsewhere, reports the CBC via Yahoo! News.

Why are they leaving?

The article says high COVID case counts may be one reason, but quotes Mount Royal Professor David Finch as saying “”Young people are leaving the province for a variety of reasons — some tied to employment, some tied to economics or education.”

A recent study, the 2020 Calgary Attitudes and Outlook Survey, found that a startling 27 per cent of Calgarians aged 18 to 24 planned to leave the city in the next five years, the CBC reports.

“In Alberta, there is a perception that there is a lack of diverse career pathways, leading people to look at other parts of Canada or beyond for opportunities in education or employment that may be closer aligned to their career objectives and social values,” Finch states in the article.

Retirees thinking of relocating to cheaper places need to think the idea through carefully, suggests the Boomer & Echo blog.

Most seniors making such moves do so for better weather, as well as “proximity to family, affordable housing costs, the availability of healthcare facilities, and things to do,” the blog notes.

A lower housing budget will give you more money for travel (when travelling is more common), the blog adds. The blog advises that you try visiting your intended destination for a long stay before committing to the move, and go in both summer and winter. Check differences in provincial tax rates, and find out about transferring your provincial healthcare.

The grass may appear greener down the highway, but you may expect some higher costs and fewer services if you move from a city to a smaller centre, warns the Globe and Mail.

The article cites the example of Ian Cable and Amy Stewart, who decided to move from Toronto to Owen Sound, a small city on the shores of Lake Huron. They found that the cost of a house in Owen Sound “was a fraction (of the cost) of a similar property in Toronto.”

But in Toronto, with a vast public transit system, they only needed one vehicle; in Owen Sound they have two. Isaiah Chan of the Credit Counselling Society tells the Globe that smaller town residents usually have to drive more often, and farther – instead of a half hour drive for your kids’ hockey you might now be looking at two to three hours, Chan says.

The article flags other possible problems – are you on a water and sewer system, or septic tanks and wells? If you need to return to the office from the country, can you afford the commute, the article asks.

The article concludes by suggesting anyone moving to a smaller place to save money must do thorough research on what the full costs of living there will be.

The key takeaways here seem to be that you need to get as much intel as possible about the place you are thinking of moving to before you make the jump. Save with SPP once travelled two hours by car – each way – to work from about 10 years. The cost of keeping the car going tended to wipe out any advantage from the lower cost of living.

In a way, retirement is like a destination – a place where you are going to go one day. The intel you need to know now is whether or not you have sufficient retirement income. If you are in a retirement plan at work, great; if not, consider joining it. If there isn’t a plan, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has everything you need to set up your own individual or employer-based one. Wherever you end up in retirement, things will go more smoothly if you can unpack some retirement income when you get there, so check out SPP – celebrating 35 years of building retirement futures – today.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Introducing SPP’s new Executive Director, Shannan Corey

July 8, 2021

To say that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s new Executive Director has deep roots in pensions is certainly no understatement.

Shannan Corey, who grew up in rural Saskatchewan, is the daughter of an actuary, one whose clients included not only pension plans, but chicken farmers. “They used to call my dad the chicken actuary,” she says with a smile.

That prairie upbringing is reflected in her values today. “My parents instilled the importance of community, and establishing roots, from a young age,” she tells Save with SPP. And while still a student, she worked with her dad’s actuarial firm, Alexander and Alexander, now part of the Aon group. She completed a Mathematics degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

Her father did some work on the SPP file many years ago, and she got to meet SPP’s outgoing Executive Director Kathy Strutt way back when. “So I have a very early connection with the plan,” she says.

Over the course of her career as an associate actuary she has consulted “for a broad range of clients of all sizes and types,” has helped shape some of Saskatchewan’s pension laws and regulations, and worked on client communications, retirement planning, and more.

Her more recent roles included broader consulting with Koenig & Associates, where she earned a Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) designation, and Federated Co-operatives Limited, where she further developed “my passion for member services.” She has also served as a Board member for the CSS Pension Plan– a plan that is, like SPP, a defined contribution plan – and is now looking forward to her new role at SPP.

Corey says that while we have of late been living through the “challenging time” of the pandemic, SPP members can feel secure – and can rely on – their SPP pensions.

She says she expects a positive future for SPP, thanks “the collective experience of the team, and their human touch.”

The group at SPP has been successful in building a solid foundation for the organization, and “the ability to continue to evolve and grow.” Services for members will no doubt continue to grow and expand as SPP moves forward, she says.

The fact that SPP is a voluntary plan – one that members choose to join – is part of the reason it is so unique, she explains. SPP is a plan for the “everyday” people, and a non-profit organization as well. Its features, such as the use of pooling contributions to keep investment costs down, and the new Variable Benefit, show the plan continues to be an innovator.

She praises the SPP team’s “collective experiences,” and say it will be leveraging that talent that will “help the organization grow and thrive.” SPP has a warm feel to its organization, and Corey says she feels “like I’m coming home.”

The organization not only concerns itself with the retirement security of its members, but with their general knowledge about money, she notes. Building financial literacy, she says, not only provides an opportunity to help people, “it also aligns with me personally, and my community and my values.”

We join the entire SPP team in welcoming Shannan Corey to her new role.

When SPP was founded 35 years ago, it was intended to provide the possibility of a pension to farm wives and homemakers who didn’t otherwise have access to retirement benefits. Since then the SPP has opened its doors to anyone who wants to augment their retirement savings via a voluntary defined contribution pension plan. Find out how SPP can help secure your retirement future!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.