Is 65 No Longer the Year to Retire?

When did your parents retire? If they had average incomes and good health, we would expect you to say age 65. That is the traditional age for people to hang it up, take their pensions, and put up their feet.

65 has long been seen as the age to stop working. In fact, for many Canadians, there was no choice in the matter. Up until 2008, most Canadian provinces had mandatory retirement rules that allowed businesses to fire workers that age and up, without any possibility of liability. This caused many successful careers to come an early end, even though the people in question were more than capable of carrying on.

Things have changed quite a bit in the past few decades. Thanks to advances in medical science, humans are living longer than ever before. They are also retaining their mental faculties and physical abilities for a greater period. As a result of this (and occasionally, financial necessity), a good percentage are continuing to work even after becoming eligible for their monthly government cheques. Expect to see an increasingly grey work force in the years to come.

One downside from this increased longevity is that there will be more seniors in need of medical care for a longer period. That could put a significant strain on federal finances going forward, and may result in younger generations having to shoulder a greater burden of the costs. No one has figured out the best answer to this looming issue.

The plus side, however, is quite significant: it is clear that for many people, remaining active in their golden years helps to maintain physical and mental sharpness. It can also be a benefit for society at large because the accumulated wisdom and experience of these workers remains accessible to us all for an additional period of time.