A few weeks ago, I read a post criticizing Canada for not adequately providing for its retirees, and depicting Canadians as not willing to speak out for themselves. As these comments were not made by a Canadian, and only referenced a single news report, I could intellectually dismiss them as not being the whole story. Still, it surprised me just how much this judgment bothered me.
Was it national pride? Perhaps. I am very proud to be Canadian and am immensely grateful for all that we have in our country. Was there more to it? Absolutely.
As a country widely recognized for respecting diversity, we have met with the following criticism, “Accommodating a new culture is the national pastime, while intolerance is the national sin.” (Botha, 2016).
Okay, so the terminology is a little extreme, but the premise does hit home. The assumptive judgment regarding Canadian retirees, by a non-Canadian (without showing evidence of exploring all sides of the argument) is what really got to me.
Setting the record straight, what is it like to be a retired Canadian? The retirement experience is as diverse as our country itself.
The average age that Canadians retire is currently 63 (Statistics Canada, 2015). And although figures vary depending on the source, Statistics Canada reports that in 2014/15 just under 13% of Canadians who were 65 years and older remained in the workforce (Government of Canada) (CBC, 2016). All Canadians in this age group are qualified to receive Old Age Security Pension (the starting age will be raised to 67 in 2029). In addition, Canadians who have worked as an employee in Canada receive Canada Pension, which they and their employer contributed to during their work life (it’s the law) (CBC, 2013). On top of this, our health care system ensures coverage for ALL Canadian citizens (UBC, 2013).
The good news behind these statistics is that improvements in life expectancy (currently 81.5 years), health status and education for older citizens are factors that are cited as heavily contributing to our steadily rising age for retirement. Does this mean that everything is rosy for all Canadian retirees? Absolutely not. Retirement is a definite struggle for many (Canadians and otherwise) (Geoba.se, 2016) (Statistics Canada, 2013).
According to the Financial Post article “Whose Retirement Grass is Greener” (February 2015), “While the U.S. is a better place to become truly wealthy, Canada is superior for those who will have limited financial prospects or encounter costly health issues.”. This is encouraging news for many Canadian retirees.
In addition, Canada repeatedly receives high ranking on studies evaluating ‘best countries’ and ‘overall quality of life’. For example, in January 2016, the US News Best Countries Ranking (which evaluated 16000 global citizens) placed Canada second overall and first for ‘Quality of Life’. Contributing to Canada’s top score on Quality of Life were the following factors:
• Strong job market
• Well-developed public education system
• Political stability
• Economic stability
• Well-developed public health system
Our strengths in stability and safety lead to a form of predictability which is an important factor for retirees. Before yawning here, this stability is sharply contrasted with Canada’s multifarious and vibrant culture. Throughout Canada, ethnic diversity, arts, culture, sports and humour abound. Throw in plentiful natural resources (including 60% of the world’s lakes) and you have an incredible place to call home, especially in retirement.
Ironically, when reviewing statistics on Canadian retirement, and Canadian pride, “freedom of expression” was one of the attributes of which Canadians are most proud (Globe and Mail, 2014). This was underscored by a comment in the Huffington Post stating, “Known globally as a polite, apologetic people, Canadians shouldn’t be perceived as meek — in fact, quite the opposite. Their strong values and wide borders encompass a population that is willing to stand up for what it believes in.”
Does the above give Canadians a sense of superiority? Shudder here. As a ‘country of immigrants’ with over 200 countries represented (and celebrated) within Canada, we recognize ourselves in others and others in ourselves.
There is indeed much to be proud of for all Canadians, including our retirees. Being able to retire in a country recognized as having genuine respect for all human dignity, and that considers diversity an asset (Huffington Post, 2015)–well, nothing could make me more proud!
Thank you, Canada and Happy Birthday!
Feature Photo: Victoria, BC
12 thoughts on “Why I’m Proud to be a (Retired) Canadian”
Beautifully written, Donna! I too am proud to be Canadian! Happy Canada Day!
Thanks, Tanya. I greatly appreciate you reading and commenting. Wishing a happy Canada Day to you, Phil and Derek.
Happy Canada Day! I really hate when people make comments (on blogs, in conversations, in the media) without the facts to back them up. You have every reason to be proud of your country and there are several things we in the US would be smart to emulate (healthcare would lead the list).
Thanks, Janis. Our countries can definitely learn from each other.
BTW – I loved your post today on ‘Opening our Minds to Skepticism. (https://retirementallychallenged.com/2016/07/01/opening-our-minds-to-skepticism-2/comment-page-1/#comment-3188). A timely reminder and well-worth the read!
Happy Canada Day, Donna! Thanks for the well written encouraging blog re Canada’s wonderful strengths.
Thanks, Nancy – And Happy Canada Day to you, Bob and family! Hope all is well for you.
I’ve been to Canada twice; it seemed like a nice place. Your post is very convincing, so maybe I’ll go back! *I’ve ye to see Montreal.)
Thanks, Tom! You should definitely add Canada to your upcoming year of travel. I highly recommend British Columbia, but Montreal is also amazing!
I’m always amazed when people wax political about what it’s like to live or retire in other countries based on a single article or one person’s anecdotal experience. One writer keeps trying to convince me that Germany is falling apart, when it’s the world’s third biggest economy and a mecca for retirees.
Whoever that blogger was, you might want to I remind them that Canada is a top destination for us retirees (was the first but not sure if that is still true), with Germany being third. The myth that all retirees look south us just that.
Hi Barb – I appreciate you reading, and commenting.
BTW – Germany took first place on the US News Best Countries Ranking!
While there are many wonderful places in the world, I think we are truly fortunate to live in Canada.