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A Retirement Dream

The Ontario Government is poised to join just about all other jurisdictions in Canada in announcing an end to mandatory retirement. Thanks, for nothing. If they could do something about raising the price of my Nortel stock it might bring a smile to my face and a few steps closer to retirement, but not this act of tomfoolery.

Brian W. Pascal
Itís hard to know what they are thinking, or smoking at the Palace known as Queenís Park, in Toronto, but surely there must be more important things to debate than a so-called end to mandatory retirement. It would seem to apply only to a handful of civil servants who actually make it to 65 and want to work longer (one is not sure if mandatory retirement or mandatory confinement should be considered in these cases). Or university professors who want to continue on in their tenured and protected roosts of academe. In both cases, who really cares?

Most of us are not likely to retire at 65 unless we are rich, crazy, or sick. To tell the truth, most of us would not retire even if we were rich because to us work is an important and valuable part of your life. No, I take that back. If I were rich I would junk this job tomorrow. Maybe I am really going crazy and Iíll have to.

But unless I have to, and that will require a certificate from a psychiatrist, I intend to keep working for a few years after 65. I may not be doing the same thing as now, who knows? But I will probably work until I canít work any more.

I know that I am not alone. Statistics Canada reports that 25% of all self employed persons are over 55 and over 30% of 55 to 64 year olds have their own business. Those numbers continue to grow and the pros have developed a new term for it in our lexicon, the ďSeniorpreneurĒ.

Letís face it. We are healthier than we have ever been; we are uncertain whether or not the combination or government pension plans and our RRSPs will be enough to sustain a fraction of our current lifestyle; and we still feel that we can make a contribution, not only to our pocketbooks, but to society at large.

Charleton Heston said in a speech to the National Rifle Association:
ďYou will have to pry my gun out of my cold, hard fingersĒ, meaning that he would not give up his gun until he was dead. I feel that way, although not quite as strongly, about working, minus the cold, hard piece.

But none the less the Ontario Government is moving ahead to give us one more thing that we donít need or want an end to mandatory retirement by the end of 2006. They call it ending discrimination by age and Bill 211 will end the ability of employers to mandatorily retire employees at age 65. It does so by not making it legal to work as long as you want but illegal under the Ontario Human Rights Act to make someone retire at 65. A convoluted plan but what else might we expect?

As an employer, that has got me thinking though. Letís say I have an employee who has been with me forever. In his early days my man was a superb employee, a real go-getter who brought in tons of business. But in the last ten years his get up and go has got up and went. He and I know that he is winding his way towards 65 and retirement. Along comes Bill 211 and he gets to stay as long as he wants, on my tab. I donít think so.

Can you imagine the grief that university deans and presidents will have to face if this law goes through? Every ancient and time-warped English professor will want to continue to quote Shakespeare at their expense until they croak. They canít fire them because they have tenure and now they canít retire them either. Theyíre just stuck with them.

One of the few positives in this legislation is the fact that employees over 65 cannot be covered under Workers Compensation, until they change that legislation as well. That means that if they have an accidentÖ. Donít even go there.
Iím sure that there must be very good reasons why the Ontario legislature is debating and will ultimately pass this legislation. I just canít think of any that are particularly beneficial to me or anyone I know. Can you?


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