BOOMER TALK: Low income or poverty

We need an increase in pensions and not the usual ridiculous token of 1.2 per cent: columnist

BOOMER TALK by Carole Fawcett

Gender inequities follow us into our retirement years as there are more retired women living in poverty than men. It stands to reason that if we were unable to earn on the same level in our working years that our retirement years will be reflective of that lower income as well.

Let me introduce you to my imaginary friend, Beth. Beth is a 74-year-old divorced Boomer, who was forced to retire this year due to health challenges. She was an entrepreneur all her life, so never had the benefits that may come from working for others.

She worked long hours and earned enough to live comfortably, but not enough to save for a worry free retirement. Any extra that she saved was used when unexpected expenses occurred.

She drives an older small car, lives in a small townhouse and pays all the usual expenses. (House and car insurance, internet expenses, Fortis, Hydro, auto gas, mortgage or strata fee, medical expenses, groceries, clothing, cellphone and some miscellaneous items). If it is a good month, she might have $100-150 left over.

Her monthly income is a combination of CPP (Canada Pension), OAS (Old Age Security), plus she qualifies for the GIC (Guaranteed Income Supplement). Her total income is approximately $1,600. Annually, she may bring in approximately $19,000.

Now, with that in mind, consider that Statistics Canada defines low income as $22,133 for a single person, which represents a nearly $3,000 difference. So our Canadian pensions are below our own defined low-income number. How disrespectful.

A mutual acquaintance was sharing with me that she knows someone who needs hearing aids and cannot afford them.

If people cannot hear properly, or feel good about themselves (i.e. no dentures, or missing teeth), it affects their self worth and can work toward isolating them, which affects their mental well being.

Beth would be hard pressed to fix something major with her home or her car without going into debt.

Boomers, we need an increase in our pensions and not the usual ridiculous token of 1.2 per cent. We need enough that will make a difference in the quality of our lives – particularly those who are single and have no additional income.

A rise to the minimum of low income would be respectful.

We should be having our medical needs provided (hearing aids, dentures, medications) because to try and take care of this on a low income is impossible.

If this concerns you, or if you are in this situation, write to your local MP or to the Prime Minister’s Office (send this column if you like) and encourage others to write as well.

In the meantime, try to look at the year ahead like a book waiting to be written. It represents 365 days of opportunity.

I hope your 2020 book is filled with happiness. May your dreams come true, may your health be good, may you have financial comfort, may your relationships thrive and may joy resonate within your soul.

Happy New Year Boomers!

Carole Fawcett is a freelance writer, editor, humourist.

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