REINVENTING AT WORK
This past weekend the nasty question about funding national pension plans has once again risen its ugly head, this time promoted by former governor of the Bank of Canada, David Dodge, who says we Canadians need to have an 'adult conversation' about the future of government services.
Dodge was part of the Federal Liberals Thinkers Conference, convened by party leader Michael Ignatieff in an effort to define liberal policy for the next election.
I think this is a wonderful concept, taking the politics out of intelligence, while never taking the intelligence out of politics, but I have to respond to Mr. Dodge's comments and the dire doom and gloom predictions of all like him concerning our shrinking work force (read contributors) and our ageing population (read recipients).
This is not news. We boomers are gobbling up the funds allotted for Canada Pension and Old Age Security at an alarming rate which is not sustainable by today's workforce, which is of course dwindling since we boomers are all retiring in steady yearly order at steadily increasing numbers.
What to do, what to do!
You know, I'm not a human resources type, not a financial type, not a politician, not an economist. These women and men are far more capable than I to find a solution for this challenge.
So I'm wondering if I'm incredibly naive in my thinking. Maybe so, but this whole issue seems to me to be easily solved...
Why are people retiring at age 65? Why don't people just keep on working? And by continuing to work, they'll be solving the dwindling workforce problem and they'll continue to contribute to CPP, solving the dwindling contribution dollar problem.
Retirement at age 65 is something that didn't happen until the 1940s when many industries in the United States, but mainly the auto industry, bowed to union demands for pensions for workers at age 65. These were men who worked on the assembly line or at other jobs that were hard, physical work and the provision of a retirement income was well deserved. Workers had enough income to stay at home and have a decent lifestyle in their 'golden years'. But since then, mandatory retirement expanded to include all levels of employment right to the very top.
In Canada, mandatory retirement is deemed to be discriminatory and a human rights issue regulated by human rights legislation. But still the practice continues, often at the will of the employer, although never officially mandated.
Today's retired boomers are changing the face of retirement, just as we've changed the face of every other stage of life we've gone through. Today's boomers, after career retirement, are going on to do other things, finding their dreams, going back to school, starting their own businesses, volunteering their time. So suggesting that they continue past 65 in their corporate roles is far from an outlandish idea.
IF we made staying in the workforce a truly viable choice with no social innuendos or financial repercussions, we'd see a very large percentage of our older workers staying on the job, contributing their expertise and their knowledge and, yes, especially their dollars to CPP.
And wouldn't that help to solve our problem? Wouldn't everyone gain from this solution? Wouldn't we be the owners of a multi-successful multi-generational workforce, filled with fire-in-the-belly young people tempered with the wisdom and experience of older people?
Are my ideas overly simplistic? Absolutely! But aren't they a starting point? Wouldn't that work?
© Marcia Barhydt, 2010
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