Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Keep on workin' in the Free World

Here's something kind of new. The Province of Ontario is tabling legislation to end mandatory retirement at 65.

I'm not sure exactly how to feel about this. I've always understood "mandatory" retirement to be a form of protection for people. The idea was that as they got older, there was a set date at which they'd be allowed to quit the 9-to-5 grind, and that they, the government, and the company they worked for would all be aiming at making sure there was something there to support them. This seems like a good idea to me, overall.

Some people, of course, manage to find other jobs after 65. They don't pay as well, but they're usually less demanding. It seems to me a good compromise.

As well, it gives younger people a chance. Positions open up for them to move into. They get their chance to shine in turn, have the bigger salaries (and the lifestyle that comes with it). This, again, strikes me on the whole as a good thing.

At first blush, I'm suspicious that this is the thin edge of the wedge to getting people back to working their whole lives — which are bound to be shortened by the prolonged stresses. The sooner you die, the sooner you're off the OHIP roles. The sooner you're off CPP. The sooner your estate gets inherited (i.e., taxed). The less urgency there is for companies to invest in your retirement fund... since you ain't gonna retire. I might be overreacting here, but on the whole, this strikes me as a retrograde idea. Why don't we get kids back in the workforce while we're at it? No doubt they'll thrive on the experience they're denied languishing in public education...

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