When I was younger, I got my palm read by a Chinese university student at a Folk Fest pavilion in Saskatoon.
By looking at the lines on my hand, she was able to determine that I would be able to retire early — in my 30s, she said.
Not even 20 years old at the time, that seemed a long time away.
Now that I’m in my 30s, 65 — the age I’ll likely actually get to retire, no matter what my palm says — seems eons away.
And now the Conservative federal government is talking about extending the retirement age to 67 — at least, that’s when people would be able to cash in on Old Age Security benefits.
If I was turning 65 this year or next, that would really burn my biscuit. Especially if I was a member of the working poor, unable to retire at all until I could count on that Old Age Security cheque. If that was the case, I’d be ready to revolt.
Some of the jobs out there are extremely demanding on a person — a young person, never mind someone who is older. Shift work and physical labour are especially hard on someone who is over the age of 60. To demand that they work two more years when Members of Parliament are able to access their pensions at the age of 55 just doesn’t seem fair.
Maybe, instead of raising the age of retirement for the bulk of the Canadian population, a better alternative would be cutting some of the retirement benefits for Members of Parliament, which are reportedly pretty cushy. Or even cutting back their wage a little bit. You would think that, if these people are really dedicated to ensuring that our country can get through this time of economic uncertainty, they would be the first to take one for the team.
But that doesn’t seem to be the way it works.
Nope, it looked like they were going to start picking on the old people.
In terms of politics, that doesn’t seem to be the way to go.
After all, with voter apathy running rampant among the youth in this country, especially, it seems, at the federal level, it’s the older portion of the population who actually vote. And if you make them work for two more years after they had planned to retire, or keep targeting their generation with other suggested “improvements” to the system to save some cash, the Harper government could expect a revolution the next time around.
Of course, after the storm of opposition was raised to this idea last week, the government will likely beat a swift retreat on this issue. MPs likely find it difficult to take a hard and stern “this must be done” approach to this idea, when they’re standing on the very soft ground of their very generous pension plan.
But this issue has drawn attention to some very important facts — that people who are nearing the age of 65 are living below the poverty line, and can’t wait to start getting that Old Age Security cheque in the mail as it will give them some breathing room. And that in some professions, working until the age of 67, or even the age of 65, just isn’t possible, or not very common, anyway.
So perhaps instead of looking to these people to save a few bucks, we should look at others in the population who could stand to lose a few dollars without going hungry. Or take another look at those MP benefits.