Retirement dreams being put on hold

As February turns to March, so ends the annual barrage of advertisements from financial institutions that urge Canadians to contribute to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan and then reap the immediate tax savings.

Most of us likely don’t pay much attention. We’ve got enough on our plates already, with rising fuel prices, some of the most expensive housing in the country, and making plans for summer vacation.

Sure the tax break we get for contributing to an RRSP is nice, but who’s really thinking 20 or 30 years down the road when that money could be used toward a new plasma TV today? We all should.

As it stands, the money deducted from our paycheques for the Canada Pension Plan won’t go very far to sustain a middle-class lifestyle by the time we retire. In fact, there are doubts whether the national pension plan itself can survive the approaching huge bubble of retiring baby boomers.

Just ask workers in France, Germany, Spain and England, who’ve seen their government pension plans so depleted, they’re now being told they’ll have to work a few years longer before they can claim what is rightfully theirs. Many of those countries have been crippled by strikes and protests as workers ponder a future when they’ll be lucky to enjoy Freedom 75 rather than Freedom 55.

Even the United States is toying with the idea of raising the retirement age of 65 by a couple of years as a way to reduce its deficit without eliminating tax breaks for millionaires.

Most Canadian workers spend their employment lives looking forward to the day they’ll no longer have to answer to a boss and punch a clock. They dream of languid afternoons on the golf course, cross country trips in the RV, extended travels to Europe.

But increasingly and worryingly, that dream is becoming more remote.

— New Westminster News Leader