The Right of Seniors to a Dignified Life
Income and Retirement Insecurity and the Need for a New Aim and Direction for the Economy
Fifty-three per cent of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque according to an annual study conducted for BDO Canada by the Angus Reid Institute. Twenty-seven per cent of Canadians do not have enough regular income to meet their needs.
The study finds that 57 per cent of Canadians are constantly paying interest on credit card debt and for 31 per cent their credit card debt is increasing due to income constraints. They never have enough money left over after paying for necessities to pay off their credit card balance. Forty per cent have a non-mortgage debt load of over $20,000.
The study says 39 per cent of Canadians have no retirement savings. This figure is up from 31 per cent in the 2018 study. For those who are already seniors or approaching retirement as part of the post-war baby boom generation, the percentage is 32 per cent without any savings.
For those 35 to 54 years old, 38 per cent have no retirement savings compared to 33 per cent in 2018. Of those, 47 per cent report they cannot afford to save for retirement while 19 per cent say they must first pay off outstanding debts. This age group is reported to be the most indebted with 75 per cent carrying some form of debt. Fifty-nine per cent of this age group carry a credit card debt and 55 per cent a mortgage. Sixty-nine per cent report that even if they try to save as much as possible, they still will not have enough to last through their retirement years.
The study finds that women are more likely to have growing debt due to insufficient income. Seventy-five per cent of women struggle to save for a major purchase such as a house, car or having children, while 33 per cent cannot even afford their grocery bills. Seventy per cent of women and 63 per cent of men cannot afford to take a vacation. Fifty-nine per cent of women live paycheque to paycheque and 43 per cent say they have no retirement savings, a big jump from 35 per cent in 2018.
The annual BDO study has an ulterior motive. It strives to show that income and retirement insecurity arises from a lack of money and poor financial management skills. This is not the case. Insufficient income and the ensuing insecurity for Canadians result from lack of control over their lives, especially political and economic affairs.
Income arises from selling one’s capacity to work in the socialized economy as members of the working class. The financial oligarchy buys and controls the capacity to work of most Canadians, dictates the aim and direction of the economy and controls the political process such as the current election. Those who sell their capacity to work have no control over the aim and direction of the economy or the political process.
Working people relate to the economy both as individuals and as members of their collective of working people. The modern socialized economy of industrial mass production is more than capable of guaranteeing the needs and rights of all but such an aim is currently missing.
Workers fulfil their duty to the economy while the economy does not fulfil its duty to guarantee the needs and rights of working people while working and from birth to passing away. This contradiction stems from a lack of political and economic control and power of working people both as individuals and as members of their collective. The issue for working people is to empower themselves politically so they can modernize their relation with the socialized economy and change its aim and direction in ways that favour them, and open a path forward for society.
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