February 19, 2024

Childcare workers in Nova Scotia get pensions, wage hikes

Licensed childcare workers in Nova Scotia are about to receive not only pay raises, but pensions and benefits, reports Global News.

The Nova Scotia Minister of Early Childhood Development called the move “a milestone in the professionalization” of the sector, Global reports.

“We understand that having a strong, stable early-learning … system means implementing programs and benefits that support the recruitment, retention and recognition of staff,” Minister Becky Druhan tells Global.

In Nova Scotia, the total cost of the wage/pension/benefits package is estimated to be $111 million, with the province providing $75.7 million and Ottawa providing the rest, the article notes.

Wage increases of “$3.14 to $4.24 per hour” will begin in April, and follow wage increases rolled out in 2022. The goal, reports Global, is “making working in childcare a more attractive option for those considering a career.”

The wage increases, reports the CBC, will help employees with their share of contributions to their new pension plan, operated by the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Pension Plan (CAAT).  The benefits plan is operated by “the non-profit Health Association of Nova Scotia,” the CBC article notes.

“Once they’re enrolled, (early childhood educators) will contribute five per cent of their pay to each plan. Full-time child-care workers will see between $66 and $124 deducted for the new health benefits each paycheque, and another $80 to $100 for the pension plan,” the CBC reports.

CAAT’s DBplus pension plan is open to any Canadian employer. Save with SPP spoke with CAAT’s Derek Dobson on the progress of the new plan a couple of years ago.

Offering pensions and benefits to employees has long been viewed as a great way to attract and retain employees.

Did you know that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s voluntary defined contribution pension plan is not just for individuals, but can be offered as a company pension plan by Canadian employers?

With SPP, there are multiple options for employers who want to offer a pension plan for their team.

Employers can set up a “start up” pension plan, where a one-time employer contribution is made to individual employee SPP plans. Alternatively, you can set up a “employer match plan” where any contributions made by employees receive a matching employer contribution. There’s the “basic pension plan” option, where the employer offers the plan, and the employees contribute (no employer match), and the “performance pension plan,” an incentive-based retirement program.

Full details can be found here. Find out how SPP can help your employees save for retirement, with a flexible array of plan designs! 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.

Looking for ways to save on your grocery bill

November 27, 2023

There are two kinds of saving – the kind where you put away a little money before you spend it, and the kind when you spend a little less (and thus, create a few extra bucks to save).

Groceries remain expensive here in the fall of 2023, so Save with SPP took a look around the Interweb to find out if people have any suggestions on how we all can save at the checkout.

According to the Narcity blog, the art of “couponing” is one way to go about it.

Narcity spoke to “well-known couponer” Kathleen Cassidy for her top tips. She tells the blog that it is important to “shop the flyers,” and find out “what is on sale this week… what is a great stock-up price.”

If there’s a great deal on something like sausages, then “buy a couple of packs… throw them in the freezer. The next time they’re not on sale, you’re prepared for that.”

Shop with a list, she advises. “I feel like a lot of Canadians just kind of blindly go into the grocery store every week,” she tells Narcity. “Especially if you go when hungry, you’re just throwing stuff into your cart.”

Other tips include price matching – if you know an item is on sale elsewhere, the store you’re shopping at will no doubt match it, the article explains. Finally, the article advises grocery shoppers to take advantage of any loyalty programs or points offered by the grocer.

The CBC offers up a few more ideas.

“Reconsider beef,” the broadcaster advises. Currently, beef “has seen some of the biggest price increases in the grocery store.” Chicken and pork cost less these days, so consider switching some meals to these other sources of protein, the article suggests.

The article says that some fresh items have had little price impact from inflation – you can get good prices on grapes, cantaloupes, avocadoes and potatoes, and in fact all of these items have dropped in price of late, the article adds.

By comparison, canned goods are up “by double digits” in the last year, the CBC notes.

On the salad side, while lettuce is up in price, “cabbage remains a bargain,” and cucumbers are not going up either. Consider “switching up” your salads by adding cukes and tomatoes, which also have not shot up in cost.

Bulk shopping is always a way to cut costs, reports The Daily Hive. Toiletries, and “pantry items” such as “pasta, canned products, granola bars and cereal” can be bought in bulk and store well, the article notes.

Meat, milk, cheese and butter can be bought in bulk when on sale, and they all freeze well, the article notes.

And of course, the article adds, be sure to watch for coupons, save them, and have them handy at the grocery store.

Another article from The Daily Hive provides a list of the best types of credit cards to buy groceries with.

Some cash-back credit cards, the article notes, will pay you two per cent in cash for every dollar you spend on groceries. We have friends who have credit and banking cards that award them points every time they buy groceries – and the points can be redeemed for, what else, free groceries. Check to see if your credit cards offer any such deals.

By leaving a few loonies in your purse via any or all of these methods, you are not only spending less on groceries, but creating a little pool of money that could go elsewhere.

Why not to your retirement piggy bank? If you are saving on your own for retirement, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan which has been building retirement security for Canadians for over 35 years. SPP will invest the grocery money you save for you in a pooled fund that is professionally managed at a low cost. And when life after work begins, SPP can turn those saved and invested dollars into retirement income, including the chance of a lifetime monthly annuity payment. After all, who knows what groceries will cost 10, 20 or 30 years from now?

Great news! SPP’s flexible Variable Benefit option is no longer limited to those members living within the borders of Saskatchewan. Now all retiring SPP members across the country can take advantage of this provision, which puts you in control of how much income you want to withdraw, and when you want to withdraw it. You can also transfer in additional savings from other unlocked registered sources. For full details see SaskPension.com.

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.

Asking those 90+ their tips for a long, happy life

October 5, 2023

It’s no secret that Canadians are living longer lives than ever. According to Macrotrends, life expectancy in this country is now, on average, 82.96 years — in 1950, it was around 68 years.

What may be more of a secret is the tips that those age 90 and beyond know — what things they do and live by that account for their extremely long lifespan. Save with SPP took a look around to see what the extremely elderly think are key tips for living a long and happy life.

When the CBC looked into this topic, they found there was no single “right way” to go.

“For each healthy-living centenarian who stayed active in family and community, you’ll find an equally aged whisky-loving example who smoked unfiltered cigarettes and shunned company,” the broadcaster reports.

Toronto resident Mohammed, 110 at the time CBC interviewed him, had three tips, the report notes. “Stay active. Chew your food longer than you thought possible, and eat fruit every morning.”

Toronto’s Zoltan Sarosy, 107 years young, “stays sharp by reading the news and emailing friends and family — he bought his first computer at age 95,” the CBC notes.

Finally, the CBC says that Agnes Fenton of New Jersey, now 111 years old, “says a daily beer and whiskey are her keys to longevity.”

Writing for CNBC, minister Lydia Sohn says her preconceptions about the elderly “went out the window” once her work brought her in touch with many long-lived members of her community.

While her many interviews with the elderly did uncover common regrets — not having as good a relationship as they could have with kids, not putting kids on the right career path, and regrets about “not being a better listener,” there was consensus on what helped make a long life a happy one.

“According to my 90-something interviewees, the secret to happy and regret-free life is to savour every second you spend with the people you love,” writes Sohn.

“Put another way, when I asked one man if he wishes he had accomplished more, he responded, `No, I wish I had loved more,’” she continues.

The seniors she met may have had regrets, like not having enough time with their late spouses or family members, but all liked to “laugh like crazy, fall madly in love and fiercely pursue happiness,” the article concludes.

Okay, so attitude is essential — look forward, not back. What other tips do people have?

Across the pond in the U.K., the Guardian offers up a few more ideas.

Falkirk’s Jean Miller, age 94, worked in a salon up until a year ago and says it is essential “to keep active and interested in things.”

“The moment you stop and sit in a chair is when you struggle,” she warns. “Life is an education and if you don’t learn as go along then that’s bad. I’ve learned to see things in a different way over time. My biggest lesson is to be more patient. I used to worry about things but now I don’t. I’ve realized there’s a rhyme and reason for everything. In life you’ve got to take things as they come.”

Pam Zeldin, 94, from Manchester tells the Guardian “my main advice for people who want to live to a good age is to look after your health and live moderately. Also, get enough sleep, and don’t drink to excess.” Her older sister, who she lives with, still enjoys a little gin and tonic in the evening, she confides.

Finally, in an article in the New York Post, entrepreneur Sahil Bloom shares the advice he got from older people — via social media — when he asked for their life advice prior to his 32nd birthday.

Among the responses were “now and then, break out the fancy china and drink the good wine for no reason at all,” the newspaper reports. “Tell your partner you love them every night before falling asleep,” another elderly person advised, since “someday you’ll find the other side of the bed empty and wish you could.”

Other gems included “do one good deed a day, but never tell anyone about it,” and to not delay difficult conversations. Finally, the article reports, the seniors advised him to “find the things in life that make your eyes light up,” and “laugh loudly and unapologetically whenever you feel like it.”

These are great little bits of advice. Recently our local TV news interviewed a 100-year-old, again asking him for his tips on longevity. He told the reporter that it was important to deal with problems promptly, and to resolve them, rather than hoping they will go away on their own. Also a nice bit of advice.

If we are going to live to see a birthday cake with 90 candles on it, our younger selves should be setting aside some money for that future birthday party. If you have a retirement program at work, be sure to sign up and contribute to the max. If you don’t, have a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, an open, voluntary defined contribution pension plan that any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room can join. You decide how much to contribute, and SPP does the heavy lifting of investing and growing that money. When it’s time to retire, your options include getting a lifetime monthly annuity payment based on some or all of your savings. 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.

What’s the right amount to tip in Canada?

August 10, 2023

Here comes the bill. What’s a fair amount to tip?

The old rule of thumb used to be 15 per cent, but in many places, you are presented with the options of 20, 22 and even 25 per cent if you pay with a debit or credit card.

So, what’s the best path forward on tipping? Save with SPP took a look around to see what folks are saying on this topic.

According to Global News, tipping, like many other things, is being impacted by inflation.

“People feel like tipping is getting out of control,” Angus Reid’s David Korinski tells the broadcaster. Sixty-two per cent of Canadians surveyed by the pollster said “they’re being asked to tip more,” and “one in five reported leaving a tip of 20 per cent or more the last time they dined out,” the Global article reports.

Inflation, Korinski tells Global, is making the price of everything higher — which means you are tipping for meals and services that cost more than they used to.

“When you get the tipping machine, instead of 12, 15, and 18 per cent for the suggested tip, it now says 18, 24, and 30 per cent. I think for a lot of people, that it’s getting a little overwhelming,” Korinski tells Global.

Fifty-nine per cent of those surveyed said they’d like to see a “service included” model, where tips are not needed, but workers receive higher wages and benefits.

So how much should we tip?

According to the Wealth Awesome blog, “in days past, a 10 per cent to 15 per cent tip was considered average. Today, however, a 15 to 20 per cent tip is considered normal for most services.”

The blog recommends a tip of 25 per cent “or more” for “exceptional service,” 20 per cent for “great service,” a tip of “15 to 20 per cent for average service,” and a tip of “10 to 15 per cent for below average service.”

Over at the CBC, flaws are being noted in our nation’s “tipping culture.”

“Card payment machines have made it simple for businesses to prompt a gratuity option, even in industries where tipping previously wasn’t part of the cost or conversation. And data from Canadian trade associations show the average percentage tip for restaurant dining has gone up since the pandemic began,” the broadcaster notes.

The University of Guelph’s Professor Mike von Mossow tells CBC he is even asked to tip if he picks up a couple of cans of beer from a microbrewery.

He tells CBC this is a “double whammy” for consumers, “with more businesses asking for tips while simultaneously raising their prices.”

“You know, I’ve started to wonder if I give a particularly good lecture, should I put a jar at the front of the lecture hall at the end, and as they file out? Maybe they could drop a few bills in there for me, too. I mean, where does it stop,” he asks the CBC.

The Conversation raises questions about why we tip in the first place. Isn’t it for good service?

“This belief presumes that the server receives the tip,” the article explains. “But in most provinces, management often requires servers to share tips with kitchen staff, and sometimes with management itself,” the article continues.

Furthermore, the article explains, there could be tip-sharing (or tipout) at your favourite resto. “Your individual hard-working server may not have any appreciable benefit from your generous tip,” the article tells us.

And if we tip because we feel our server/service supplier is working hard for a low wage, what about everyone else who is working for minimum wage, the article asks.

Tipping, and how much you tip, is at the end of the day up to you.

Viewed through the lens of retirement saving, one might want to think about giving oneself a little tip now and then to boost our retirement savings. Even if you were to pay yourself first, to the order of five per cent per month, you’d see your retirement nest egg begin to grow.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to “tip up” your retirement account in several ways. SPP can be set up as a bill in your online banking, so that you can direct dollars there that way. You can make contributions on our website via your credit card. Or, you can fill out this form and have a pre-authorized contribution deducted regularly from your bank.

It’s a good tip that your future you will greatly appreciate. 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.

Looking for solutions to Canada’s growing food insecurity problem

July 13, 2023

When it all comes down to it, security means having a roof over your head and food in the fridge.

Let’s focus on food. For a shockingly high 5.8 million Canadians (as of 2021), food insecurity is a real problem. That many people, including 1.4 million kids, experienced “some form of food insecurity” two years ago, reports the CBC.

The article cites a recent study by the University of Toronto that found “15.9 per cent of households across all 10 provinces” experienced some level of food insecurity, which has got worse with the higher inflation rate of the last couple of years.

Provincial levels of food insecurity — meaning, a household has difficulty affording and obtaining food — range from a low of 13.1 per cent in Quebec to a high of 20.3 per cent in Alberta, the story notes.

The report concluded, the CBC adds, by calling on all governments “to address the vulnerability of households that are reliant on employment incomes but still unable to make ends meet, and ensure that working-aged adults not in the workforce also have sufficient incomes to meet basic needs.”

At the University of Regina, a research team is looking at ways that rural Saskatchewan can help address food insecurity, Global News reports.

The U of R’s Ebube Ogie tells Global News that concerns about food affordability are being raised thanks to inflation. But, she said, people can look to the Saskatchewan communities of Muskeg Lake and Val Marie for solutions, the report notes.

She tells Global News that “Muskeg Lake residents are becoming more self-sufficient through their local food forest, a self-sustaining, nature-inspired agricultural system that provides fruits, vegetables and other edibles, as well as medicines and cultural resources. Val Marie residents can access fresh foods from a nearby Hutterite Colony, a self-sustaining colony that produces its own food, and also rely on their personal gardens.”

There should be more effort placed on growing food locally, and purchasing it from local farmer’s markets, than on buying expensive processed goods, she notes.

“Saskatchewan is Canada’s bread basket and we want to see that manifested in how we live, how we produce food and how we consume food. Our goal is to end food insecurity and promote food security for everyone,” says Ogie.

In Barrie, Ontario, a company called Eat Impact is using another approach — rescuing fruit and vegetable that is close to, but not at, its expiry date and distributing it via food banks.

The company, reports the Barrie Advance, “works with local farmers to find out what’s available and at risk of going to waste.”

“Typically about 1.4 billion pounds (of food), every year in Canada, does not get eaten; it just gets thrown out. And it’s a huge problem,” Anna Stegink, founder of Eat Impact, tells the Advance.

Another possible way to reduce food insecurity would be to introduce some sort of Canadian version of food stamps, a program that has been running for many years in the U.S., reports the CBC.

Elyssa Schmier of MomsRising, a U.S. advocacy group, expresses surprise that Canada does not have a program equivalent to food stamps.

“It’s… one of the largest tools we have to combat poverty and hunger in the country,” she states in the article, speaking about food stamps.

“I know that families in Canada are struggling. It was very surprising to hear that [Canada doesn’t] have any sort of dedicated nutrition programs in place, especially to help families with children,” she adds.

The University of Victoria’s Matthew Little says programs like food stamps “shouldn’t be considered a long-term strategy” in the battle against food insecurity. Canada’s programs have tended to focus on poverty alleviation rather than directly on food supply, he explains.

Let’s hope that efforts continue to be made on making more food available to those who need it.

We can’t predict the future with any clarity, but it is a reasonably safe bet that everything — including food — will cost more in the future when we are retired than what it does today. That’s why it is always a good idea to save for retirement. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been helping Canadians build retirement security for more than 35 years. Check out SPP today, and find out how it can help you secure your 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.


July 10, 2023

Retirement `rethink’ might tempt older workers to stay in the workforce longer: CBC

We’ve read countless reports about the “grey wave” of retirements — the fact that now that even the youngest of boomers are hitting their early 60s, lots of experienced workers are moving out of the workforce and into retirement.

A report from the CBC takes a look at the negative impact of all these folks heading for the hills — and looks at ways to entice some of them to stay in the workforce even just a little longer.

How, the article asks, do you get skilled, experienced people in expert fields — nursing is cited — to consider returning to work after retirement, or staying in their jobs longer?

The article notes that in 2022, Canada’s economy “was struggling to fill nearly a million job vacancies.” At the same time, the article continues, there was “a record number of retirements among workers aged 55 to 64.”

Is there a way to reverse or even slow down the record retirement levels?

“Part of the solution, according to labour market experts, lies in finding ways to change the culture around aging in the workforce and making it easier for older workers to find fulfilling work and flexible hours,” the article suggests.

Losing the older, experienced workers makes things difficult for employers, the article continues.

“When you’re talking about replacing somebody who is experienced, knowledgeable and good at their job and replacing them with a novice, somebody who’s at the beginning of their career, [that’s] going to have a very different effect than replacing them with somebody who has experience,” Concordia University’s Gillian Leithman tells the CBC.

So — what can be done to change some older workers’ minds?

In the article, employment lawyer Camille Dunbar notes that while mandatory retirement was phased out decades ago, there are still disincentives for working beyond age 65, such as facing contribution caps in pension systems or facing higher costs for health insurance.

“It would be great to see some of those age limits changed, eliminated or somehow tied to something concrete as opposed to just an arbitrary age,” Dunbar tells the CBC.

Other approaches cited in the article include the notion of “job rotation.” Instead of keeping people in the same role for a long period of time, this idea has them getting to work “on new and challenging projects” in a new role.

The older workers interviewed in the article said they liked only having to come in when needed, rather than working full time, and like helping the younger workers learn the ropes.

Placing older workers in mentorship roles, the article continues, is also a nice way to give them a more meaningful work position while helping transfer their experience and knowledge.

And finally, the article suggests that keeping older people in the job longer is good for their physical and mental health. “Fulfilling work for older people has been shown to improve cognition, potentially staving off conditions like dementia, for which care is demanding and expensive,” the article says.

This is an interesting article, and it is very true that we see many friends and relatives still working away in their mid- to late 60s with no real plan to retire. And while it’s very true that these folks enjoy the social connections, mentoring, and so on, they also enjoy the income.

However, with few exceptions, the day will come when we will be either unable or unwilling to continue working. Putting away a little bit of what you are earning today will benefit your future you tomorrow. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is an ideal way to boost your individual savings efforts. SPP allows you to contribute any amount (up to your available registered retirement savings plan room) each year. You can also transfer in any amount from an existing RRSP.

SPP then takes those contributions and professionally invests them in a low-cost pooled fund. Over time, your savings will grow — and when you decide to give retirement a shot, SPP will have retirement income options at the ready for you, including the possibility of a lifetime annuity! 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.

Pandemic workplace stress now leading to The Great Resignation, and mass retirements?

September 15, 2022

There have been reports from around the world about The Great Resignation – how the stress and strain of working through the pandemic crisis has prompted many to opt out of the workforce altogether.

In Canada, reports The Globe and Mail, the primary way that Canucks are leaving the workforce is via retirement.

“Last week’s July employment report from Statistics Canada revealed that a record 300,000 Canadians have retired over the past 12 months,” writes columnist David Parkinson. “That’s up nearly 30 per cent from the same time last year, and nearly 15 per cent from the months leading up to the pandemic in early 2020,” he continues.

One might think that older workers leaving the workforce – boomers and near-boomers finally giving back their ID badge and parking pass – might be good news for younger workers.

However, the Globe continues, there may also be a downside to this “retirement frenzy.” The article quotes economist Stephen Brown as saying “the sharp increase in retirees this year presents downside risks to our forecasts for employment, and with gross domestic product (GDP) growth already faltering, further raises the probability that economic activity will contract.”

The article links today’s record-low unemployment rate with a less-good stat, a falling job participation rate. In plainer terms, less joblessness, yes, but overall, less people working. “All this poses downside risks for GDP, particularly if retirements increase any further,” notes Brown in the article.

A clearer example of The Great Resignation’s impacts can be gleaned from an article in Manitoba’s Thompson Citizen. In Northern Manitoba, the article reports, recruitment bonuses of up to $6,750 – bonuses that continue on after hire – are being offered to try and get nursing positions filled in remote First Nations’ facilities. A lack of healthcare staffing has sparked a crisis in the area, the newspaper reports.

In Northern Ontario, the CBC reports, the mining and supply industry is also seeing “a shrinking and aging labour force,” and a “scramble” to fill open jobs.

“You’re going to see businesses closing because they can’t find enough people. And then it could also be putting more pressure on the people that are currently working,” Reggie Calverson of the Sudbury Manitoulin Workforce Planning Board tells the CBC.

There, technology is being deployed to automate some jobs – more AI, more robots, self-checkouts and virtual customer service, the CBC report notes.

And the younger workers left behind as their older colleagues “resign” or retire are indeed finding it a strain to pick up the slack, reports Time magazine via Yahoo!.

Many, the magazine reports, are “quiet quitting,” which is “the concept of no longer going above and beyond, and instead doing what their job description requires of them and only that.”

Employers in the U.S. and elsewhere fear that while “quiet quitters” will avoid job burnout by leaving at quitting time and not dealing with after-hours emails and meetings, overall productivity could be impacted at a time when there are fewer workers in the job pool.

How to incent workers who feel “unengaged?” A Globe and Mail piece by Jared Lindzon suggests more bonus pay, such as commissions, or even retirement-related incentives.

Many employers are considering offering matching contributions to their company’s retirement program, or setting up new programs, the article says.

It’s interesting to read that for some experts, a wave of retirements is negative for the economy. Canadian research from a few years ago suggests that retired workers do give the economy a boost via their pensions, which they tend to spend on goods and services and taxes.

A study last year carried out for the Canadian Public Pension Plan Leadership Council (CPPLC) by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis found that “every $10 of pension payments generates $16.70 of economic activity and makes a total contribution of $82 billion to Canada’s economy annually,” reports Benefits Canada.

OK, a lot going on here. People are retiring in droves, particularly those aged 55 to 65. It’s harder to fill jobs. Those in jobs are feeling overburdened, perhaps thanks to the fact that older colleagues have left and have not been replaced. While some fear this Great Resignation will negatively impact the economy, others who feel retirees are already helping out the economy may see this as more good news.

So let’s look at retirement savings in a new way. What can you, as an individual, do to help the Canadian economy in the future? Why, you can save for retirement and then, when you are there, spend your income on goods and services, while paying your taxes. That helps your local economy and your local and federal governments.

If you are in a workplace pension plan, you are on the right path. But if not – or you want to augment the plan you have – consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Consider joining the 400 businesses offering SPP and its 32,000 members whose retirement savings now represent an impressive $600 million.

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.

Keeping inflation at bay and saving on “back to school” items

September 1, 2022

The leaves are starting to change colour, the nights are cooler, and our little kids and grandkids are queueing up for the school bus once again.

But this year, with a backdrop of the highest inflation rate in decades, what are parents and grandparents to do when it comes to saving on back to school items? Save with SPP scoured the Interweb for some savings ideas.

Inflation, reports the CBC via the MSN website is a bit of a double whammy. First, we spenders have less coins in the wallet. “I just don’t have as much money to go around,” single mom Monica Belyea tells the CBC. And second, prices for school items have gone up. Or, as the CBC notes, there can be “shrinkflation,” where the price of something, say pencils, has not actually gone up, but you are now getting fewer pencils.

Tips from the CBC article include “shopping at home” to see if you can round up many of the needed school items from last year’s purchasing, as well as “carefully comparing prices between stores, waiting to buy certain items when deals are more abundant, and using coupon-code apps when online shopping.”

Pat Hollett of the Barrie, Ont.-based Canadian Savings Group suggests starting simply. “Don’t don’t grab the first thing you see. Shop around and pay the lowest price you can for the same item,” she tells the CBC “Price match where you can … Try other brands, if they’re cheaper.”

Her top tip is to “employ multiple techniques at once,” and shop “using coupons, cash-back offers and points, and tapping points cards to reduce prices as much as possible,” the CBC reports.

Writing for the Nerd Wallet blog via Yahoo! Finance, Hannah Logan notes that 36 per cent of Canadians surveyed are expecting they’ll spend more on back to school items this year than they did in 2021.

Her article recommends price matching.

“Price matching is a service provided by some retailers and grocery stores. Essentially, it means the store will honour a competitor’s lower price on a product, as long as it meets the parameters of their price-matching policy,” she writes.

“Some retailers are so eager to win your business (and confident in their prices) that they’ll not only match a competitor’s price, but offer to beat it by a certain amount or percentage. This could add up to big savings, especially if you’re shopping for big ticket items or multiple students,” the article continues.

Other saving tips outlined in her article include the idea of “buy now, pay later,” using money-saving apps, looking to see if your province offers any assistance (in B.C., certain kids’ clothes and school supplies may be tax exempt), and using “the right” credit card that offers cash back or other rewards.

Global News adds a few more back to school tips. If, the article suggests, your kids’ clothes are large enough to at least last through September, buying clothes in October – when sales begin – will be much more reasonable.

If you need electronics for the kids – such as tablets or laptops – think about going the “used” or “refurbished” route, the article suggests.

“Stores… can provide refurbished electronics at a cheaper rate than buying new, and shopping around local buy-and-sell communities or even swap groups can find you the equipment you need on a budget,” the article suggests.

If you know a kid is going to need a new laptop for the coming school year, start saving up for it months ahead, the article advises.

And if you do manage to outfit the kids with all they need for school – and save a few bucks in the process – a good home for those savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, your retirement savings are invested for the long term at a very low cost, growing into a future stream of retirement income. SPP is open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room – consider signing up 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.

Ways to be prepared for power-robbing storms

June 9, 2022

It seems inevitable these days that some weather event – a tornado, an ice storm, or the recent crazy windstorm in Ontario – will knock out your power.  It’s an irritating thing that turns into deeper trouble if the power doesn’t come on in a few hours. Save with SPP took a look around to see what we can all do to be ready for the inevitable next outage.

A Global News report notes that 600,000 Ontarians lost power in a May storm, many for days and even weeks.  A long-term outage, the article notes, means no internet, no phone charging, food spoilage, no AC or heat, and nowhere to get gas.

The aftermath of a big outage “is a perfect time to think about being prepared, particularly if you weren’t prepared for this storm,” states David Fraser of the Canadian Red Cross in the Global article. “Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but it is likely we could have more situations like this in the future.”

Fraser sees three key areas where preparedness pays off. You need a three or four-day supply of non-perishable canned food, and a manual can opener. Fill your bathtub to provide drinking water when the storm is hitting (and you still can), he recommends.  Stay in touch with the outside world via a battery or hand-cranked radio. If you have a traditional landline, it may still work with a non-cordless phone.   The third must-have is power – lots and lots of batteries in an easy-to-find location, and charged flashlights.

Generators, powered by gasoline, propane, or the kind that charge themselves from your house’s electricity and come on when power goes out, are also a great idea.

According to a CBC report, Ottawa-area resident Nabila Awad used a gasoline-powered generator to keep some power going into her home in the days following the storm. However, she notes, it cost about $40 in gas each day to keep the thing running, and with no water in the house, they still had to order in food.

Insurance companies will generally help pay the cost of running a generator when the power is out, and the cost of replacing spoiled food, Anne Marie Thomas of the Insurance Bureau of Canada tells the CBC. How much coverage you have depends on the policy, so it’s not a bad idea to check with your broker before you have a problem.

Owning or renting a small chainsaw and a sump pump can help you clear your property of downed trees and address flooding, Thomas adds. Call for help if you have downed power lines; don’t go near them.

Let’s recap. To prepare for a storm or outage, you need canned food, a manual can opener or Swiss army knife, a supply of water, some sort of radio, and maybe a landline phone. A small chainsaw and a sump pump might be handy. What else?

The Gizmodo site lists some other interesting options, including a counter-top generator that can power a small fridge for quite a few hours, rechargeable flashlights that you plug in to an outlet (easy to find), a solar-powered phone charger, and more. Genius.

In a way, emergency preparedness is a lot like saving for retirement. Taking the time to put together a little emergency kit before the power stops working is indeed akin to putting away a little of your “today” money for a tomorrow when you stop working.

If you don’t have a workplace pension and aren’t really sure about investing, an end-to-end, do-it-yourself retirement plan is within the reach of any Canadian with RRSP room – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP’s help, your “today” money can be grown into future retirement income. Check out this made-in-Saskatchewan marvel 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.


May 9, 2022

Canada’s workforce greys as boomers hit the road to retirement

The Canadian workforce is “older than it has ever been,” reports the CBC, citing information from the latest national census.

“More than one in five working adults is now nearing retirement, says Statistics Canada — a demographic shift that will create significant challenges for the Canadian workforce in the coming decade,” reports the network.

There are more people aged 55 to 64 in the workforce than those aged 15 to 24 entering it, the article notes.

And that’s a big change.

“In 1966, there were 200 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians aged 55 to 64, but that has now been flipped on its head. In 2021, there were only 81 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians in the 55 to 64 age group,” the CBC report continues.

Boomers, the report explains, began retiring around 2011. The fact that so many of us are boomers – retiring ones at that – is “the single most important driver of Canada’s aging population trend,” the CBC notes.

It’s expected that the number of folks aged 85 and over will triple by 2051, with one quarter of the population being over 65 by that date.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, Canada’s fertility rate hit an “an all-time low of 1.4 children per woman,” the CBC report adds, citing Statistics Canada data. There are six million young people under 15 in the country compared to seven million of us who are 65 and older.

This greying trend raises a number of concerns.

First, the article says, the traditional “transfer of knowledge” from older workers to younger ones won’t be easy to achieve if there is a shortfall of young folks entering the workforce.

Next – a question not posed in the article – we have to wonder if this grey wave of retirees will have sufficient retirement savings. The Canada Pension Plan, for example, uses CPP contributions from working Canadians to help pay the pensions of retirees, so a change in the ratio of working to retired Canadians could have consequences on that program. (The CPP Investment Board has set aside a massive contingency fund to deal with this exact problem, so that’s reassuring.)

Third, a point raised in the CBC video that links to the article, is the cost to society of looking after all those older folks, particularly as they hit their 80s and beyond. We may see a need for more long-term care spaces or a more determined effort to boost homecare – and both things will carry a future cost.

Younger folks may find that better jobs become more widely available, which is a silver lining to the issue.

Retirement can last many decades and carries a hefty price tag. If you have access to a workplace pension plan or retirement program, be sure you are signed up and contributing the most that you can. If you don’t have a workplace program, the saving responsibility is on your shoulders. Joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a great option. Let the experts at SPP navigate the tricky waters of investment; they’ll grow your nest egg and when the day comes that work is an afterthought, SPP can turn your savings into steady retirement income. 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.