The Globe and Mail


September 18, 2023

We’re living longer, but not healthier — and may face costly care in our latter years

Writing in The Globe and Mail, columnist Rob Carrick reveals that our future cost of care — once we’re all elderly — could average about $3,500 per month.

Retirement savers, he writes, already have to consider “high interest rates and inflation” when predicting future costs. “Now comes one more complication: we’re living longer, but not healthier,” he writes.

So long-term care costs may be something many of us will be dealing with in the latter phases of life, and Carrick says it can be a pretty considerable expense.

“Health issues can be managed so that you have a good quality of life, but the expense is potentially massive. Reckoning with this cost is best done in the retirement planning stage as opposed to your 80s or 90s, when your options are more limited. You need to answer this question before you retire: If I need extensive care in retirement, how will I afford it,” he writes.

The two options, which the article notes are covered off in a new report from the Bank of Nova Scotia, are basically “aging in place,” at home with help, or moving to a long-term care facility if and when the need arises.

Carrick notes that while he now sees “happy 100th birthday cards” in card shops, and that financial planners tell him they are seeing more and more clients in the 90-100 year age range, those extra years of life are not always healthy ones.

“What’s less understood about longer lifespans is that some of our latter years could well be spent in poor health. Life expectancy for the average 65-year-old today is 21 years, with full health for just 15 of them,” he writes.

Three quarters of us aged 65 or older “have at least one major chronic disease, while one-third have multiple conditions,” the article continues. “More than 80 per cent of seniors at age 85 suffer from hypertension, over half from osteoarthritis, and one-quarter from dementia,” he continues.

These conditions can mean you’ll need help “to perform six aspects of daily living — bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, continence and being able to walk or transfer yourself from a bed to a wheelchair,” the article adds. That’s where the costs begin to rise.

“Light home care of five hours per week might be covered by provincial governments, whereas 22 hours per week might cost $3,500 a month. According to the Canadian Medical Association, 22 hours of home care per week is consistent with keeping people at home rather than a long-term care home. For continuous home care, the price could be close to $30,000 per month,” he writes.

We can add from personal experience that long-term care costs were around $5,000 per month when our late mom needed it.

How to fund that sort of cost, which might be needed for five or six years?

“If you don’t have the savings to cover care costs, your options include downsizing your home to pry loose some equity, or borrowing against your home value using a home equity line of credit or a reverse mortgage. Long-term care insurance bought before retirement is another possibility, but this type of coverage has not caught on,” the article notes.

In any case, future long-term care costs should be part and parcel of your overall retirement savings plan, the article concludes.

This is an eye-opening and alarming article. The implication is that maybe your retirement costs will actually increase, and that will happen at post-85, when you have very few options to deal with it. A takeaway from this piece, for us at least, is to never stop saving for the future.

If you don’t have a workplace pension arrangement, and are saving on your own for retirement, you may be interested to learn about the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP has been helping Canadians save for retirement for over 35 years. SPP offers a voluntary defined contribution plan that any Canuck with registered retirement savings plan room can join. You decide what to contribute, and SPP invests it for you in a pooled fund with a great track record and low-cost professional management. 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.


September 4, 2023

Annuities, buoyed by higher interest rates, regain their lustre

Thanks to today’s higher interest rates, an old staple of the retirement industry — the annuity — is making a big comeback.

Writing in The Globe and Mail, noted financial columnist Rob Carrick says annuities can be added to the “list of safe investments that have been revitalized by high interest rates.”

His article quotes insurance adviser Rino Racanelli as saying annuity sales “are 50 per cent higher than they were 18 months ago,” before the climb in rates. And, the Globe story continues, “financial planner Rona Birenbaum says she’s placing more money in annuities now than in the past, and she’s recommending annuities more often.”

Today’s higher interest rates have been good news for such savings tools as “savings accounts, guaranteed investment certificates, treasury bills, as well as annuities,” but the latter category has “a few other things going for them as well,” he writes.

“If you’re part of the wave of retiring baby boomers, they offer maintenance-free income that won’t demand your attention as you age. Annuities also offer refuge from the never-ending drama of stocks, bonds and everything else financial. Another benefit is the recent upgrade in the protection offered in case an insurance company selling annuities fails,” he writes.

For those who aren’t familiar with an annuity, Carrick offers up this explanation.

“Annuities are insurance contracts where the buyer exchanges a lump sum of money – as little as $25,000 or $50,000 – for a preset, guaranteed, lifelong stream of monthly income. According to Mr. Racanelli, a 65-year-old woman who bought a $100,000 non-registered annuity could receive as much as $6,386 per year, up 5.9 per cent from $6,032 12 months ago,” he writes.

Payouts today are about 20 per cent higher than they were only a few years ago, back in 2019, Carrick continues.

In the article, Naunidh Singh Hunjan of Hunjan Financial Group states that “this is really a special time when it comes to annuity rates,” and that he is seeing the best payouts from annuities that he has seen in years.

The article concludes by recommending that those converting savings into retirement income consider annuities for only some of their savings.

“Annuities should be considered only for a portion of your retirement savings,” writes Carrick. He notes that “Mr. Racanelli said his 65-year-old clients are typically putting 25 to 30 per cent of their savings in annuities, with older clients going as high as 50 per cent. Investments that are complementary to annuities include dividend growth stocks, which offset inflation with rising cash payouts to shareholders.”

Members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan have the option of converting some or all of their savings into annuity income at retirement.

SPP’s Pension Guide explains the three annuity options in detail.

All three forms of annuity pay you income every month for as long as you live. With the life only option, payments stop upon your death, and there is nothing paid to your beneficiaries. With the refund life option, you get less monthly income, but a calculated death benefit is guaranteed to be paid to your beneficiaries. With the joint and last survivor annuity, your monthly annuity payments carry on (you can choose for your survivor to get 60, 80 or 100 per cent of what you were getting) for their lifetime.

Be sure to 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.


August 7, 2023

In an about-face, kids now support parents who didn’t save for retirement

So much for stories about boomerang kids who won’t leave home — it now seems that kids are supporting parents who didn’t save enough for retirement!

Writing in The Globe and Mail, columnist Rob Carrick notes that “the overwhelming reason why adult kids are financially supporting their parents is insufficient retirement savings.”

In a poll conducted via the Carrick on Money newsletter, 52 per cent of those aged 18 and up who provide support for their parents cite a lack of retirement savings as the reason they have to help mom and dad. Ten per cent of those surveyed said their parents had outlived their retirement savings — and therefore needed help from their kids, the newspaper reports.

“A suggestion for anyone in their thirties and older: Have a conversation with your parents about their retirement savings. Ask if they have any. If so, how much and what kind. Though it’s not much talked about, adult kids are clearly playing a backstopping role in this country’s retirement system. Be prepared,” writes Carrick.

Some of the other reasons cited in Carrick’s column as to why adult kids are supporting their parents include illness or disability (nine per cent), debt loads experienced by the parents (4.8 per cent) and divorce (4.3 per cent). The article says other reasons include “cultural expectations, job loss and death of a spouse.”

Interestingly, the survey results indicated that “even people who owned homes and who have pensions require help,” the article reports. Seven in 10 of survey respondents said their parents “currently or previously owned a home,” and one in three said their parents “have a company pension.” But they still needed help, the article explains.

“Take note if you think your house is your retirement plan, or that having a pension means retirement security. Pension payments can be small if you work for an employer for a short period of time. As for houses, they are a financial responsibility as well as an asset. Coping with big repair and maintenance bills can be a handful when you’re retired,” Carrick warns.

Other findings from the survey include the fact that 38.5 per cent of those surveyed help their parents “through periodic cash infusions,” and 29 per cent “make regular cash payments to parents,” the article reports.

Eleven per cent report that mom and dad have had to move in with them, the article adds.

While a large percentage of respondents were helping parents who were in their 90s and above, age 60 seems to be when parents start needing help, Carrick concludes. That help, he notes, can be small — less than $1,000 a year — or large, and over $100,000 annually.

Saving for retirement is a great way to avoid being a burden to your kids. If you haven’t started yet, check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room can join, and once you are a member, you can contribute any amount up to your RRSP contribution limit, or transfer in any amount from other RRSPs.

And if you are worried about running out of money in retirement, SPP offers retiring members the option of a lifetime annuity, which means you’ll get a cash deposit on the first of the month for the rest of your life.

Check out SPP today!


July 3, 2023

Runaway cost of living, debt raises questions over traditional `rules of thumb’ for money

Writing in The Globe and Mail, Saijal Patel notes that inflation and the related higher cost of living are driving people’s money concerns — and calling old rules of thumb for handling the money into question.

In her opinion column, Patel, who leads a financial consulting firm aimed at “empowering women’s financial independence and security,” says she’s noticed a shift in people’s priorities from “investment strategies and retirement planning, to now finding ways to maximize limited resources and preventing overwhelming debt.”

“There’s a prevailing sense of hopelessness in achieving financial goals,” she writes. 

Citing a recent Worry Poll from the Bank of Nova Scotia, Patel reports that “73 per cent of those surveyed had high levels of concern over the rising cost of living.” Leading topics that induced stress included “paying for day-to-day expenses (44 per cent), paying off debt (39 per cent) and saving for emergencies (38 per cent).”

This new reality of money worries tends to throw accept “rule of thumb” solutions into question, Patel writes.

“Take for example, the 50-30-20 rule in budgeting that many personal financial experts tout. It recommends that 50 per cent of your net income go toward living expenses and essentials (needs), 30 per cent toward discretionary spending (wants), and 20 per cent toward savings (emergency funds and future goals),” she notes.

However, she continues, if you do the math, this idea doesn’t work very well.

“According to Statistics Canada, the median after-tax income for households was $73,000 in 2020. Based on this, no more than $36,500 or $3,041 per month should be allocated to one’s essentials. Yet the average monthly rent in Canada stands at approximately $2,000 (rising to $3,000 in the Greater Toronto Area), and the average monthly grocery bill is $1,065 for a family of four.”

This makes the 50-30-20 rule “unattainable for the majority of Canadians,” Patel concludes.

Another rule of thumb that Patel says is no longer valid is the idea that “housing costs shouldn’t be more than 32 per cent of one’s gross income.” (Our late father used to say it should be 25 per cent — but that was about 50 years ago, and things have certainly got more expensive in the intervening years.)

Patel cites the National Bank of Canada’s recent Housing Affordability Report as saying that “the average Canadian would need an annual income of $184,524 to purchase a `representative home.’” That, Patel notes, is more than twice the median after-tax income figure she cited earlier.

Along with high housing costs, Patel cites high taxes as the two most expensive things for Canadians. Taxes, she argues, are not something individuals can control.

Patel concludes that “financial education is the key if we are to ensure individuals, and collectively, our society, is prosperous.”

This is a thoughtful article. When we think about our parents buying a fairly big house in the ‘burbs for $23,000 in the mid-1960s, a house valued at close to $1 million today, you can really see the impact of inflation over time. One has to ask if wages are keeping up with the cost of living — it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Living cheque to cheque is a reality for many of us, but we have to all remember that a day will come when a paycheque doesn’t — and you’ll be retired. Yes, budgets are squeaky tight today, but if you can save even a small amount each month for retirement, you will be taking a lot of money pressure off the future you.

If you have access to a retirement program at work, be sure to take part as fully as you can. If you don’t, and you are saving on your own for retirement, take a hard look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP is a do-it-yourself retirement program. You decide how much you want to chip in, and SPP does all the rest — professional investing at a low cost, growing your savings, and providing retirement income options when you punch out for the last time. Check out SPP today.

News flash — there’s no longer any SPP limit on how much you can contribute to the plan. You can transfer in any amount from your other registered retirement savings plans, and can contribute annually any amount up to your RRSP room limit. The savings possibilities are 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.


June 5, 2023

More Canadians need access to better pensions: Ambachtsheer

Writing in The Globe and Mail, noted pension expert Keith Ambachtsheer says our ever-growing senior population would be better served if they — and the rest of us — had access to better workplace pensions.

He notes that Canada’s retirement system is ranked 11th out of 44 countries via the Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index. What’s needed to boost that ranking, Ambachtsheer contends, is to make the type of pension plans that public sector workers have widely available to the rest of the population.

“Canada,” he writes, already has “one of the best occupational pension systems in the world for its public-sector workers. Globally admired as `the Canadian pension-fund model,’ it efficiently converts regular contributions into lifetime retirement income streams for its public-sector members. At the same time, investment organizations using the model are at the leading edge of converting retirement savings into sustainable, wealth-producing capital. This system needs to be expanded to everyone else.”

The number of senior citizens, he observes, is on the rise. Citing Peter Drucker’s 1976 book The Unseen Revolution, Ambachtsheer notes that the author foresaw “the young, outsized baby boomer generation of the 1970s eventually becoming an outsized generation of retirees, and advocated creating pension organizations with two key features: legitimacy and effectiveness.”

Ambachtsheer lists governance as an important attribute of the most effective pension plans. “Pension arrangements must be structured to always act in the best interests of the plan risk-bearers,” he explains.

The plans should ideally “have an accumulation pool that focuses on investment return generation, and a separate decumulation pool that provides lifetime income.” You contribute to the investment pool during your working life and receive benefits from the decumulation side when you retire, he explains.

The Canadian model pension plans also feature cost-effective management and “value-adding investment programs that turn retirement savings into wealth-producing capital,” writes Ambachtsheer. Another feature is the ability to provide lifetime pensions to plan members, he adds.

So how do we go from what we have now — a situation where there are many workers without any sort of retirement program at work — to one where most of us are in a Canadian model plan? Ambachtsheer sees three ways to achieve this change.

First, “existing Canadian pension-fund model organizations” could “offer their pension management infrastructure to private sector employers,” he notes. This is already being done by a few larger pension funds, such as Ontario’s Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology Pension Plan (CAAT).

Save with SPP interviewed CAAT’s Derek Dobson on this topic a few years ago.

Another approach would be to have “a government entity decide to create a Canadian pension-fund model organization for private-sector workers and retirees,” an idea that has worked in some U.S. states and in Great Britain, he writes.

Finally, he suggests that the private sector create “one or more new Canadian model offerings,” making better pension plans available to the private sector. He writes that Common Wealth and Purpose Investments offer programs that provide end-to-end coverage, including lifetime pensions.

Our own Saskatchewan Pension Plan, which is open to any Canadian with available registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room, already has some of the Canadian model features — investments are pooled, professionally managed and governed at a low cost. SPP offers, through its annuity features, a lifetime pension for its members. If you don’t have a pension plan at work, you can join SPP as an individual — or, if you are an employer, you can look into offering it as a pension for your employees. Check out SPP today!

Great news — the savings opportunities with SPP are now limitless! You can transfer any amount you want into SPP from an RRSP, and you can make contributions based on your entire available RRSP room. It’s a great way to build your SPP retirement nest egg more quickly!

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.


May 29, 2023

Canada, unlike France and the U.S., is not dealing with a pension crisis: Keller

In an opinion column for The Globe and Mail, Tony Keller explains why Canada isn’t having a crisis with its pension system like France and the United States are.

In France, he writes, there are protests in the streets and strikes over plans to raise the national retirement age to 64 from 62. In the U.S., he writes, there’s a “quiet… slow motion” crisis as Democrats and Republicans fail to agree on steps to stabilize the U.S. Social Security system.

“The Congressional Budget Office says that unless premiums are raised, the deficit is increased or taxpayers kick in cash, pension benefits will have to shrink 23 per cent by 2033,” Keller writes, noting that the Social Security system “continues to wend its gentle way toward the iceberg.”

There’s no crisis here, he says.

“Canada is not having a pension crisis. You may not have noticed. ‘`Absence of Crisis Expected to Continue Indefinitely, Experts Say’ is not a headline we tend to put on the front page,” he writes.

That’s because actions taken decades ago stabilized our system, Keller explains.

“Back in the 1990s, Canada was headed for a crisis. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) (and the parallel Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)) had been created three decades earlier, and like most public pensions they were built on a pay-as-you-go model. CPP premiums deducted from workers’ paycheques paid retirees’ pensions, and once you retired, the next generation of workers would pay your pension. The CPP was a chain of intergenerational IOUs,” he writes.

The French and American systems also operate under the “pay-as-you-go” model. But such systems run into problems when there are fewer workers than retirees. Here in Canada, 19 per cent of us were seniors as of 2021; in France it is 21 per cent, Keller explains.

You have to change things up when demographics change, Keller contends.

“In the 1990s, then-Finance Minister Paul Martin and his provincial counterparts chose to face the arithmetic. They gradually doubled CPP premiums, to ensure that promised pensions would be paid, today and tomorrow. To make that possible, a large chunk of premiums now go into a savings account. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) manages the growing pile, which at the start of this year stood at $536-billion. Your premiums today partly fund your retirement tomorrow.”

This is a somewhat complex concept, but what it means is that we are still operating a “pay-as-you-go” system, but when we get to the point when there are not enough workers to pay for the pensions of retirees, money in the CPPIB cookie jar will be tapped into until the ratio returns to a sustainable level.

Keller’s article goes on to note that the Old Age Security (OAS) system, which is paid entirely out of tax dollars rather than employer and member contributions, has the potential for problems in the future; its costs keep rising as the senior population grows. One way to save money on OAS would be to increase the so-called “clawback” so only those seniors needing OAS the most would get it.

CPP was intended to supplement the workplace pensions Canadians were supposed to have; increasingly, workplace pensions are becoming less common. And OAS was designed for those who did not work (and contribute to CPP) during their careers. For a lot of people, CPP, OAS and even the Guaranteed Income Supplement are all they have to live on in retirement, and it’s a pretty modest living.

If you don’t have a workplace pension, there’s a great made-in-Saskatchewan solution out there for you — the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP is a voluntary defined contribution pension plan that any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room can join. Employers can also offer it as a workplace benefit. Contributions made to SPP are professionally invested in a pooled fund at a low fee. SPP grows the savings until retirement time, when options for turning savings into income include a stable of annuities. Check out SPP today!

And there’s more good news! Now, you can contribute any amount to SPP each year up to your RRSP limit. And if you are transferring money into SPP from your RRSP, there’s no longer an annual limit! Saving with SPP for retirement 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.


January 30, 2023

Higher interest rates spell trouble in ’23 for borrowers

A wise colleague once told us that debt was “the slayer of retirement dreams.”

And, according to an article by Pamela Heaven in the Financial Post today’s rising interest rates are giving that slayer even more teeth.

The article notes that at least one more rate hike is expected from the Bank of Canada early this year, which will bring the policy rate to 4.5 per cent. That compares to a rate of 0.25 per cent at the beginning of 2022, the Post reports.

The article quotes a TD Economics report that suggests that the impact of a rising policy rate for Canadian borrowers has “only just begun.” That’s because there is usually a lag between the start of higher rates and the end of a mortgage period or car loan, the article explains.

“Debt service costs rise with a lag as mortgages and loan payments are renewed at current market rates,” state the authors of the TD Economics report in the article.

While household debt levels actually dipped during the lockdown years of the pandemic, they are experiencing a sharp rise today, the article notes.

“Canadians who piled on debt when it was cheap now have to contend with interest payments on debt that is more expensive, and could get even more so,” the article adds.

“Up to 18 per cent of fixed-rate mortgages come up for renewal (this) year and borrowers looking to renew will be facing the highest interest rates in 20 years,” the article says, again quoting the TD Economics report.

“In the third quarter of (2022), a borrower who took out a $500,000 mortgage in 2017 was paying $700 more a month on renewal,” notes the TD report.

Well, one might think, it’s good that we all saved so much money during the pandemic’s lock-downiest days, right?

“One bright spot is the personal savings that Canadians accumulated during the pandemic, which could provide a cushion to rising debt costs. However, with interest rates expected to remain at higher levels over 2023, TD expects much of these savings will go to paying debt costs,” states the article.

If there is any positive news about higher interest rates, it’s the fact that Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) are suddenly looking more attractive.

Writing in The Globe and Mail, noted columnist Rob Carrick asks why people are risking investment dollars in the volatile stock market when GICs and other fixed-income investments are offering interest rates close to five per cent.

“In the low-interest decades of the past, stocks were essential to reach your investing goals. But with 5-per-cent returns available from both bonds and GICs, how much do investors need stocks?” he asks.

It will be interesting to see, as we move along in 2023, whether more investors do begin to shift some of their investments towards less volatile fixed-income. Save with SPP can remember that crazy days of the late 1970s and early 1980s when interest rates were in the teens, and you could expect 18 per cent interest on a car loan. It doesn’t seem (today) like we are anywhere near those bad old days — thank heavens!

A balanced approach is usually a wise one when it comes for investing, and members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan are aware of the “eggs in different baskets” nature of the SPP Balanced Fund. Looking at the asset mix of this fund, it appears that 40 per cent of investments are in Canadian, American and global equities, and the rest is in bonds, mortgages, private debt, short-term investments, real estate and infrastructure. Keep your retirement savings in balance, and 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.


January 2, 2023

CPP benefit seen as modest in an environment where many lack workplace pensions

Writing in The Globe and Mail, David Lawrence provides a reality check for those of us thinking federal retirement benefits will cover our retirement costs.

He notes that the maximum benefit available from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for a new recipient in 2022 is $1,253.59 per month. But worse, not everyone gets the maximum — Lawrence writes that the average CPP payment this year is a mere $727.61 per month.

The traditional “three pillars” of Canadian retirement, he writes, are changing. While government pensions like CPP and Old Age Security (OAS) provide one pillar, and personal savings another, the third is pensions, which Lawrence says are not generally accessible to those who are self-employed or working on contract.

In fact, many people just don’t have a workplace pension, the article notes.

“While it used to be that clients were maybe worried that their pension wasn’t going to be enough, over the past 15 years we’ve encountered more clients who simply don’t have a pension [through their employer],” Tom Gilman, senior wealth advisor and senior portfolio manager with Gilman Deters Private Wealth at Harbourfront Wealth Management Inc. in Vancouver, tells the Globe.

Those who do have a pension are “more confident” about their retirement cost of living than those without, Gilman states in the article.

He also tells the Globe that your personal “income tax profile” should help you decide whether a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is a better retirement savings vehicle for you than the usual alternative, the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). Some people need the tax deductions associated with an RRSP more than others, the article explains.

Those who are going to live off their investments need to think about how best to structure their portfolio, states Laura Barclay of TD Wealth Private Investment Counsel in Markham, Ont., in the Globe article.

“For her, the holdings that best mimic a pension plan with stable, long-term payments are high-quality, blue-chip dividend-paying stocks,” the article notes.

Barclay tells the Globe she advises her clients to look for “high-quality companies… with growing earnings,” and that also pay dividends. Diversification is also important, she states in the article.

Harp Sandhu, financial advisor with the Sandhu Advisory Group at Raymond James Ltd. in Victoria, tells the Globe he takes a “tortoise” approach with his own retirement investments — “slow and steady wins the race,” the article notes.

If you are starting to save for retirement while older, don’t pick risky investments with high returns in the short term to try and catch up, Sandhu tells the Globe. Things can go wrong with such investment choices, he tells the newspaper.

If you ever have an opportunity to join a pension plan or retirement savings arrangement through work, be sure to join, and contribute as much as you can. When retirement savings is a deduction from your paycheque, you’ll quickly forget about it and will be happy, when you retire, that you’re getting more than just standard government retirement benefits.

If there isn’t any retirement program available for you, perhaps because you work on a casual or contract basis, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be of interest. Any Canadian with available RRSP room can join. If you have bits of pieces saved in multiple RRSPs, you are allowed to consolidate them within the SPP — you can transfer in up to $10,000 per year. Check out SPP today — it may be the retirement solution you’ve been searching for!

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.


August 15, 2022

Is inflation eating up Canadians’ COVID-19 savings?

Back when COVID-19 restrictions had many of us sitting at home with little to spend our money on, economists and financial observers began talking about how the barriers to spending (no travel, fewer goods and services to buy) would create a monster pandemic savings pot.

And they were right, it did. But now, reports Jason Kirby in The Globe and Mail, that giant horde of unspent cash could be getting devoured by an unexpected new entity – inflation.

“Average household net savings fell 44 per cent to $1,900 in the first quarter from the year before, according to Statistics Canada’s latest release of household economic accounts broken down by income and age,” he writes. While all income groups saw their savings fall, the article notes that those with the lowest incomes saw the biggest decline.

A graph in the article shows that as recently as spring of 2020, the average Canadian household had upwards of $5,500 in savings. That means we’ve experienced a drop of nearly two-thirds in household savings.

The article says that the savings dip is not totally bad news.

“The good news, as far as spending continuing to fuel the recovery, is the average household still has more savings than they did before COVID-19 hit and governments ramped up income support programs,” the article tells us. “Stats Can data show the average household still holds 63 per cent more in net savings than before the pandemic, even though that amount has shrunk by more than two-thirds since the second quarter of 2020,” the piece reveals.

But while the wealthier among us “have a far better ability to absorb the shock of rising prices for goods and services,” lower-income folks are having a far tougher time.

For the lowest income bracket, the article notes, “the average household in that group has negative net savings — meaning they spent more than their disposable income — and are further behind than they were before the pandemic.”

Falling into a situation where you spend more than you earn – and are living on debt – is made even more perilous by those rising interest rates, reports The Financial Post.

“Canadians who took out mortgages for 4.5 times their gross income — a not uncommon practice when housing prices shot up during the pandemic — could see payments increase by $187 to $281 from 2022 to 2024, which would absorb as much as 2.6 per cent to four per of their net income,” the article states, quoting a recent study authored by National Bank of Canada economists Matthieu Arseneau and Daren King.

So the takeaway here is that we all need to try our best – and it isn’t easy when gas hits more than a toonie per litre – to live within our means, and avoid living off credit lines and cards. The days of cheap money thanks to decades of low interest rates have ended, at least for now.

The growing inflation rate also underscores the need for retirement savings. Your future you will need more, not less money should the trend towards higher costs continue on into the future. A great partner for retirement savings – one that is open to all Canadians with registered retirement savings plan room – is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Check them out today and see how they can help you build, a grow, a retirement nest egg!

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.