How many times have we talked to our children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours about the issue of pensions, only to get the deer in the headlights look? I believe that it is one of the duties of those around the age of retirement to reach out to younger people about the importance of preparing for retirement. We know that Stephen Harper is doing all he can to make the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) unsustainable and to make people work longer to receive the benefits.
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Though there had been world conflicts between empires in earlier centuries, this one was different both in the extent of the carnage and in the fact that it marked the end of the European empires that participated. It also saw nationalistic impulses trump international worker solidarity. Some workers in the trenches on both sides refused to go along, but their "reward" was to be shot by their own side rather than by the enemy.
On travels this summer, I went to Rochester, NY, which was the home of the Eastman Kodak operation. I visited the Eastman Museum which featured a large exhibit of the photographs of Lewis Hine. While you may not immediately recognize his name, you likely have seen his iconic photographs, especially those dealing with child labour. Life magazine deemed his photograph of the Pennsylvanian breaker boys to be one of the "100 photographs that changed the world." His photographs of young girls working in cotton mills still have the power to move your heart a century later.
You would think that they would love us as a group -- not for our grey hair, but for our votes. In elections, Conservative parties usually gain the plurality of votes from seniors. I make no claim for greater wisdom on the part of the elderly but I would note that we do vote with the highest participation rate of any age group.
Over the years I had been involved in numerous one-day volunteer projects in the Ottawa area but I knew that there was something beyond that, especially since my retirement left me the time to get involved.
For me, it was Habitat for Humanity and a foreign land. It helped that the foreign land was in the southern hemisphere and I was also able to exchange minus-20 temperatures for plus-20 temperatures or, as I experienced, 20 days of blue skies and temperatures that ranged from 30 to 42 degrees.
Many retirees have found out that the pension they earned over decades of contributions to plans turned out to be less secure than they had assumed. In cases of bankruptcy such as Nortel, this has been a harsh reality for some seniors. Those who had participated in defined contribution plans found their dreams undermined when the stock market tanked in 2008. Even those in large pension plans such as the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) have been faced not only with increased contribution rates but also stories of huge shortfalls in the pension fund.
At the recent Convention of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, delegates heard Ed Broadbent speak on "Equality and the Importance of Unions," and we wanted to find out what their unions had meant to them. This column is the third in a series of columns based on interviews carried out at the convention by Angus Ricker.
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It is the week before Christmas and it is -20 degrees with a wind chill of -30. The sidewalks are crowded with snow. This Christmas will be the last time that a grandmother can receive a card from her grandchild at her door. Next year even if her grandchild is willing to pay more than one dollar to have it "delivered," the card will never reach grandma's doorstep. How will she ever get it?
At the recent Convention of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, delegates heard Ed Broadbent speak on "Equality and the Importance of Unions," and we wanted to find out what their unions had meant to them. This column is the second in a series of columns based on interviews carried out at the convention by Angus Ricker.
At the recent Convention of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, delegates heard Ed Broadbent speak on "Equality and the Importance of Unions," and we wanted to find out what their unions had meant to them. This column is the first of a series based on interviews at the convention.
Joyce Kerr and Mary Riddell are both retired hospital employees from the Greater Toronto area and members of the Service Employees International Union Retirees Committee. They both knew from personal experience the difference that having a union made in their lives.