Thank you to the committee.
As was said, my name is Katherine Scott, and I am a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives here in Ottawa. I am also the proud mother of Charlotte, who was thrilled to attend the committee on Tuesday, as part of the delegation with Daughters of the Vote.
I can't promise to match the eloquence and passion of the young woman who spoke to you on Tuesday, but I am looking forward to talking about the economic challenges facing older women in Canada today.
Poverty and economic insecurity are unique hardships for older women, particularly when combined with the many overlapping challenges of aging, such as chronic illness, loss of mobility, providing care for a spouse, grandchildren, or both, or loss of community support. Given that Canada's population is aging, the gaps in our system of public supports for seniors will directly affect ever-widening numbers of people.
Today, I would argue, seniors are sometimes portrayed as a well-off generation that benefits overly much from generous government supports, at the expense of younger Canadians. This narrative ignores, I would argue, the realities of large inequalities in income and wealth in Canada, particularly among seniors, many of whom remain in poverty, despite the positive impact of CPP and OAS/GIS. It also ignores the very large reality of large disparities between men and women.
Age and gender are only two of the many intersecting factors, such as race, conjugal status, employment and sexual identity that impact economic security. It's the intersection of these experiences and identities that reveal the challenges women face, and what's needed by way of solutions.
In my short presentation, I'm going to point out what we know, and give you some thoughts about what we think is needed by way of building out supports for this important group.
Here's what we know. Seniors' poverty has increased since the mid-1990s, reaching 15.4% in 2017. That's according to the Canadian Income Survey. Rates of poverty are higher among senior women than among senior men. In Canada, in 2017, almost 600,000 older women lived in poverty, as compared to 340,000 men. Rates of poverty, again, among women, are higher in marginalized communities.
The census gives us great information about this. We know, for example, that one quarter of older indigenous women—those over age 65—live in poverty. The figure among women over age 65 who have just immigrated to Canada is 23%. Women in these communities face greater risks. We know, as well, that women who live alone are at particular risk. They are four times more likely to be poor than women living with a spouse or other relatives. Indeed, senior women make up over two-thirds of all seniors living in poverty. They make up over 70% of all singles living in poverty.
There's another large group we need to pay attention to. These are women, and seniors generally, who live with incomes just above the poverty line. More than half—that's 57%—of all older women had after-tax incomes of less than $25,000 a year in 2017, as compared to 38% of men. Of this group, two-thirds of women had incomes between $15,000 and $25,000 a year. We're talking about the majority of senior women in Canada living on very modest incomes. These are not the groups hightailing it down to Florida and the like. We're talking about people living on very modest incomes that are perhaps just above, but certainly not much higher than, the poverty line.
What this tells us is that many have little income above and beyond what's available through basic pensions. They have the basic OAS/GIS, and a modest CPP, depending on their work history. It also tells us why, for instance, core housing need is so acutely high among older women; in particular, women living on their own. It tells us why many face untenable choices each day of paying for the high cost of housing, medication, food or other basics.
It's perhaps not surprising that we've seen an uptick in employment among seniors. One in 10 women over age 65, in 2018, according to the Labour Force Survey, was engaged in the paid labour market. That's up from 3.2% in the year 2000. That's quite significant. We've also seen quite a startling increase in the employment rates of women aged 55 to 64. Indeed, employment was up 18 percentage points among women aged 55 to 59, between 2000 and 2018. It's up 22 percentage points among women aged 60-64, so it's quite a significant increase of labour market for this particular group.
I would argue that it won't be enough. Increased rates of employment certainly won't be enough to offset inadequate pension coverage, and won't be enough to offset woefully low levels of retirement savings.
The difference between income at retirement among those who have a pension and those who do not is stark. Thirty per cent, for instance, of Canadians between the age of 50 and 64 have no RRSPs or other similar assets, and 18% have no savings or private pensions at all. Women, in particular, struggle on incomes that are considerably low for potentially very long periods of time.
Women are doubly disadvantaged in this regard, first because of their work histories and secondly because of the sizable and persistent and damaging gender pay gap.
Women are still more likely to take time out of paid work to care for young children, ill or disabled family members or elderly parents, and they are more likely to work fewer hours at lower wages for the same reason.
Recent research—and you'll have seen any number of studies in the papers of late talking about it—looks at the motherhood wage penalty, and it paints a grim picture. Women's earnings fall steeply after having a child, and they never fully recover. And this, of course, influences their pension coverage and benefit levels much further, through their entire life, down the road.
What would it take then to enhance the economic security of older women? Promoting labour market participation has certainly garnered some attention at the OECD and the like. There was actually a federal-provincial-territorial committee not too long ago that was looking at this.
Let's cut to the three...and then we can come back to it in discussions.
I would argue that's a quixotic. I don't think that trying to increase labour market participation will necessarily deliver the bang, given the scale of the need. What really we need is a strong public infrastructure of public supports such as affordable housing and pharmacare, as well as strategies to address the working conditions in the low wage labour market and the like in order to achieve a foundation to provide greater security.
I will stop there. We can talk about the other things later.
“Old bag”, “geezer”, “old maid”, “little old lady”, “babushka”, “old crone”....
It's depressing to google synonyms for older women and try to grasp the rampant ageism embedded in our society against our mothers, daughters, sisters, partners and ourselves. It's a sad reality, as older women are often stereotyped and overlooked, here in Canada and around the world.
That was clearly evident a few weeks ago at the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, where older women were blatantly ignored, even at the international epicentre of human rights.
Thus, I'm delighted to be here today to learn that the standing committee has taken the time to look at the issues faced by older women in Canada. Thanks to all of you for your important work.
I should begin by explaining that the International Longevity Centre is a human rights-based organization focused on the needs of older persons, and as such, all our interventions today will be viewed through a human rights lens.
ILC Canada is partnered with the LIFE Research Institute at the University of Ottawa and is part of a global alliance of 16 countries that was the brainchild of the famous geriatrician Dr. Robert Butler, who coined the term “ageism” back in 1969.
Ageism is defined as a combination of prejudicial attitudes towards older people, old age and aging itself. Like all “-isms”, ageism penetrates and destroys. It belittles and patronizes and it results in the loss of autonomy and dignity. Ageism creates barriers to health, financial resources, education, employment and social and economic justice. In fact, all the issues that you have listed for today's discussion are negatively impacted by ageism.
Older women face the double jeopardy of ageism and sexism, and this can become triple or quadruple jeopardy when racism, homophobia, disability and indigenous identity are added to the mix.
My first recommendation is that today's discussion result in a strategic plan to counter ageism and for Canada to lead a United Nations convention on the rights of older persons.
My colleague has been talking about poverty, which also has a huge detrimental impact on older women. We know that 16% of older women live in poverty and that the median income for older men is 1.3 times higher than for older women. This disparity leads to significant financial stress for older women. We know that women live longer than men, yet they have earned and saved less than men over their careers. Many have worked in lower-paid service jobs with fewer hours and have had leave periods to raise children and to care for aging family members.
To mitigate that, we recommend action on pay equity, including policy and investments that support educational training for women and provide support for caregivers. We must ensure GIS and OAS policies do not negatively impact older women and that every effort be made to find and register those who are eligible for programs.
Cardiovascular disease, strokes, malignancies, osteoporosis, and cognitive and psychiatric illnesses are the most frequent and often most devastating health issues in older age. Older women, as I mentioned, live longer than men and consequently are more likely to develop chronic illness.
As a case in point, 7.1% of Canadians suffer from dementia, but two-thirds of those are older women. The burden of caring for dementia largely falls on women, which may result in significant mental, physical and financial stress. Policies that enhance caregivers' quality of life must be a vital part of our health care system.
Older women often fail to receive the same quality or amount of health care as men. For instance, women with heart disease receive fewer diagnostic procedures and fewer treatments, and women with kidney disease receive dialysis later than men and get fewer transplants. This gender disparity can literally be fatal for women. Understanding the differences in disease frequencies, presentations and response is vital for optimal health for older women.
There is also a paucity of research on mental, as well as physical, health for aging women and this needs to change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada notes three key factors for effective health: prevention, health promotion and early detection. These are essential components of a sustainable, effective and equitable health care system.
Finally, we realize that the cost to society of not acting on these recommendations is dire.
Appropriate housing is a basic human right for all Canadians. For older people, that means clean, accessible housing that meets their needs for independence, dignity, safety and social participation, yet here is the reality for older women in Canada: 27% are in core housing need, meaning after housing costs they don't have enough money for food, medication and transportation.
Women make up seven out of 10 Canadians living in residential care, which can lead to the loss of social and community connections, self-esteem, autonomy and choice.
Lastly, to our national shame, we are witnessing an increase in first-time homelessness among older women. While we applaud the national housing strategy, it needs to better address the housing needs of older women.
ILC Canada and other like-minded organizations are vigorously advocating for a United Nations convention on the rights of older persons. We believe a UN convention would be transformative, because research-based evidence is clear: Conventions work because they better the lives of rights recipients.
A UN convention would see older people as rights holders and codify those rights in a single document. A convention would act as an anti-discriminatory tool to challenge negative stereotypes. Rights conventions improve government accountability and transparency and require the active participation of older persons. They raise public awareness and create better, healthier societies where older people prosper.
Canada has a long and proud history of leading and supporting conventions. There is no reason for our country not to work to better the lives of older Canadians, the vast majority of whom are women, along with the lives of other people around the globe.
I am going to leave you with some thoughts to ponder.
At what age does a person lose his or her rights?
At what age should a person be without preventative health care or access to education or training?
At what age should a person lose autonomy, self-determination and choice?
At what age should a person be less protected from discrimination, violence and abuse?
The answer is never. As we grow older, our rights should be enhanced, not diminished or lost.
I'm happy to start with that; and Kiran, you might want to add to it.
You have put your finger on a big problem, and there are a couple of issues that we need to unpack within the comments you've made.
First of all, in terms of getting information out and unpacking the availability of the public system for people who are not accessing it, there is a lot of history in different government programs of going out to actually find those people and bring them in so that they're getting access to it.
GIS and OAS are one example. Right now, HRSDC is looking at innovative ways to access people who aren't getting GIS and OAS, so there are models. We should be thinking about that for the folks you're talking about, particularly if 131% are not getting access in Toronto. That's just crazy.
Second, that's an area where we really need to look at funding and at how the system works, so that it covers people's needs. Research needs to be done on that and we need to start looking at better programming.
That's my two cents' worth.
Kiran, do you want to add anything more?
I was listening to that. I grew up outside the GTA, and it is so true that in our large urban centres we are really facing a home care crisis. Partly it's aging, but the extraordinary diversity, certainly of the GTA community, is putting pressures on a system that simply has not been designed or adequately equipped to deal with the need of either providing support to all diversity families in their homes or providing institutional support.
It's interesting that, in terms of response, the beds in home care or nursing homes, for instance, actually might be arguably even less accessible today with the rising pressures on them than they were 20 years ago. We have not kept pace.
Investments here are critical, because certainly women's unpaid labour continues to be drawn upon. Caregivers are on the front lines of this crisis. Their own health suffers. That has certainly been my experience in my family.
To do nothing is to continue to exploit the labour of women. This is a very concrete, black-and-white example of where failures of public supports, and certainly of imagination and vision, leave families across the country hanging. It's acute in communities where institutionally or historically there have not been services to those communities that reflect cultural needs or their languages, particularly in seniors' care.
There is going to be a period of catch-up, but putting our heads in the sand is simply not the answer here. We have to really make a commitment to understanding the role of public supports and services to families as they go through this transition and try to enhance the quality of life of seniors. As Kiran was saying, Canada has fallen back and is behind.
It is complicated by the federal-provincial jurisdiction. Home care and many of these supports are clearly in the provincial domain, but certainly we have transfers here from the federal government.
Thank you very much, Chair; and thank you all for taking the time to come and present to us today.
I represent a riding that has become essentially the Victoria of Ontario. I have Collingwood, Wasaga Beach.... Three of the 10 oldest demographic postal codes in the country are within my riding, so I am acutely aware of some of the issues.
The thing that comes up the most and I hear about, possibly because I am a physician myself, is access to health care, the wait times, the idea of waiting 24 months to have a hip replacement and the impact of that on quality of life. The issue is that the governments, whether they be provincial or federal, don't seem to be accountable for their care, even though they take responsibility for it.
Could you comment on that and what you think might be some of the solutions around creating that accountability? Maybe it should be something in the act, or maybe it should be something with respect to how the provinces or the federal government should be approaching this.
When we had health transfers in the past, we put accountability around what it would be for. Do you have some comments on that for seniors?
Thank you for that fantastic question.
I really think that this is such an important point that we need to spend more time discussing, but just in the short time we have here.... Margie and I actually wrote to the minister when the health accord was being rolled out, about a year and a half or two years ago, with some recommendations on how we can make our health care system better moving forward.
We divided the recommendations into several parts, but the main one was about looking at primary prevention to help people who are healthy to stay well; looking at how we can help people who are at risk by providing them supports, care and wellness in their own communities so that they don't fall into that third category, the ones who are actually sick; and, providing good supports for people with mental and physical illness closer to their homes, within their community of supports and health, but not as much in the hospitals.
I think we need to keep people away from hospitals as much as possible by providing communities of care and support—social, transportation, poverty, all of these social determinants of health—closer to their homes, because that is where the money is being spent at the moment. For every dollar that we put into the health care system, we're only getting about 20 cents at the bottom.
I understand that, being a senior, I have been invited to voice my experience as a homemaker. I was in a fortunate group. My husband was in a position where he could earn enough income that I was free to take care of the home full time.
As a high school student, I appreciated that I also was free to pursue a career. I actually spent four years in university and one year at a technical college. I received my diploma in nursing.
Soon afterward, I met my husband. When we established our home, he left the choice entirely up to me whether I would work outside the home.
I knew myself well enough to realize that I could not handle both a career and taking care of the home well. As much as I liked the idea of working as a nurse, my first choice was to maintain a family home. At that time, my husband was working as an insurance sales manager and used home entertaining a fair amount to build up relationships. I was free then to help in this valuable PR work.
I have found this to be a wonderful way to live. My husband was free to concentrate on providing for the family, knowing I had the home front covered. If a child was sick, no problem; I was home. While we lived in the city, the children could come home for a hot lunch. Almost always in the evening, the family could sit down together for a home-cooked meal. Our children did have some extracurricular activities, but not lots, so the schedule was seldom hectic.
And yes, being a homemaker let me be free to volunteer. In the city, it was limited. We loved our home and neighbours in the city, but both Josip and myself had been raised in rural settings, so when my husband was semi-retired, we made the move to an 80-acre country property. Here we raised our younger children on this practical hobby farm. Here we became much more involved in volunteering. Josip volunteered in the Lions Clubs organization, which automatically meant I was assisting in their fundraisers and entertaining. I chose to volunteer in the seniors home, providing activities, since I was very familiar with their ways. My parents had run a nursing home when I was growing up and we lived among them. When the children were in elementary school, I could be a parent helper, which the children loved. In high school, I was on the parent advisory council, which was more beneficial to me as I was able to be aware what was happening inside those walls. Now, in our small country church, our volunteering increased there, and Sundays could be a day of rest since I would be home to do the needed work during the week.
The sad reality, which most everyone sees, is that volunteer clubs are folding for lack of volunteers.
Gardening is our love. Our garden is huge, 150 feet by 50 feet. It gives us healthy organic vegetables year-long. There is no way I could have done that if I were working. It takes half the summer, and more, just to take care of it and all the produce.
Yes, my CPP is embarrassingly low. It comes just from my bit of employment before marriage and the help I gave my husband when he ran his personal insurance agency.
We have built up some healthy RSP accounts for me as well as a bit in tax-free accounts to support me, as needed, in the future. If my husband dies before me, my income will greatly diminish, but as my husband says to our children, he will leave them a mother who can come and visit but does not have to stay.
We are very grateful for income splitting. This allows us to save some, using the tax-free savings. We are ready then for the heavy expenses, which invariably come, and hopefully to put away a bit for my future.
My mom is 104. I think I might have a long future.
We never raise children without making mistakes, but it is so satisfying to have been able to provide them a home with a parent who could always be there for them without outside work pressures. My friend's son and daughter-in-law are making huge financial sacrifices to be able to be involved in their children's lives on a daily basis. His gross income is healthy. Taxes and program supports seem to be based on that gross income, yet they are struggling to live on the net income.
I don't need a job outside the home to participate in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada. We raise children to be leaders, to be good stewards of their finances and of the world they live in, to be active members of the society they live in and to know how they can make an impact on the law and government in Canada. The way we raise our children is a full participation in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada. As I said, I was very fortunate to be a relatively stress-free wife and mother.
Thank you for inviting me.
My name is Mary Moody. I took time out from the workforce to raise my family. The object of my story is to set forth the reasons I feel it's important to give encouragement and/or incentive to women who wish to take time out to make families their priority.
I graduated from the Vancouver General Hospital as a registered nurse in 1963. I practised in the case room and the delivery room, and on the gynecology ward. My co-workers were excellent, and I enjoyed working with the patients.
I married my husband while he was an intern, and he was in the navy at that time. Following his internship, we were posted to Comox on Vancouver Island. My intention was to start back to work in the hospital there—but then, we had four children under the age of three. To be very honest, we were complete failures at birth control. I realized then that it would become difficult to go back to work for some time, and thus I became a stay-at-home mom, with endless loads of laundry to do. My dream of going back to a career faded into the background.
My husband's tour of duty ended and we moved to Richmond so that my mother could help me with the children. It was always our desire to live and work in a rural setting, and so we moved to Pemberton. We commuted between Richmond and Pemberton for one year to see if it would be a viable option, driving up the highway with four small children, a dog, and a cat—a rather exciting journey with three car-sick boys and one car-sick cat. My parents were horrified we were taking their grandchildren to the wild west—and, indeed, we were.
The children were too small for me to go back to work. Being at home, I could become involved in the community. I lobbied for the first kindergarten in the area, meeting opposition from a council member who felt it was just a glorified babysitting service—I think you can all gather what sex this person was. Pemberton was a farming community. The children were separated by long distances, and thus did not have an opportunity to socialize and interact with each other. The town had a liquor store, but we did not have a kindergarten. I wrote to a Vancouver newspaper, stating my opinion, and eventually the government saw fit to provide a kindergarten.
I helped out at school functions, billeting children in our home who had come to play sports or join the school band, and involving myself in bake sales, sports days, etc. There was a need in our small community for extracurricular activities to bring children together.
I was a Brown Owl for some years. I took my Brownies on camping trips, hiking trips, and I initiated several programs for the Brownies to earn badges.
I became involved in the pony club. This entailed a lot of organization, with lessons and fun days with races, ribbons, trophies and a concession stand. Most of the village would turn out for these days and join in the fun—and it was a lot of fun.
Eventually I went back to work part time in my husband's office. Besides doing bookkeeping, I was able to use some of my nursing skills—immunizations, prenatal care, blood pressure checking, allergy injections, and so forth. We had a high incidence of diabetes in our area, and so our office ran educational clinics. I would bake samples of good foods to use and advise them on how to cook healthy meals for diabetics.
We left Pemberton, as my husband became ill and subsequently took a nine-to-five job in Nelson. I wanted to work in the local hospital, but the only option available to me was to work the night shift. That was not for me; I'm not a night shift person. I decided it was time to change to a new career. I took and passed my real estate exams in Nelson.
We then moved to Kamloops. I arrived in Kamloops with my shiny new real estate licence and started working immediately. I had absolutely no knowledge of the layout of Kamloops. Initially I studied maps of Kamloops to find where the house I was showing was and where the nearest schools, community centres and churches were. I was then asked by a friend to go up to Sun Peaks Resort and market the projects up there. I loved this job. It meant I could ski quite a bit.
We were aging, and eventually we felt that we should move closer to our family. We ended up back where we started, on Vancouver Island.
Looking back as a senior, I'm sorry that I did not have a longer work experience as a nurse in a hospital setting, as I enjoyed that aspect of my career. There was no opportunity to collect a work pension or a larger CPP. Socially it was a difficult time being out of the workforce, as I really had very little connection with the outside world, particularly when my children were very small.
I worried that I could not carry on an intelligent conversation when my husband came home from work and found it difficult to speak on interesting subjects to others adults. When we entertained, I felt a sense of not being in the loop, so to speak. We had no access to television or newspapers for many years, so I felt quite cut off from the world.
More women today are entering the workforce for many reasons. Perhaps it's time for those who wish to stay home to have some encouragement and incentive. It is known that the formative years of a child are ages one to four. There are benefits provided, but not for this length of time. We are not all cut from the same cloth and as women, we will continue to question our choices. We need to feel that we're doing something worthwhile and if it is staying home with our family and contributing to our community, then we should feel good about this.
I chose to stay home with my children and family. Initially, it was not a choice. I watched them grow up to become the individuals that they are today. We grew our own food and the children had to help with chores. I believe this helped to impart a sense of responsibility and an awareness of the world around them, making good foundations for them to live by. On reflection, it was the best choice for me.
By the time we had welcomed three little ones into our lives, we knew we needed more space to accommodate our growing family, so we purchased a larger home. Our lives were full and busy. My husband was youth pastor at our local church; we both taught Sunday school and our kids has lots of friends. By the time our fourth child was born, 14 years separated the oldest and youngest. We now had a newborn, an elementary school student, one in junior high and one in high school. Life was busier still and more expensive.
We were still a one-income family, but I was free to volunteer regularly. I collected funds door to door for various registered charities. I had opportunity to serve on various home-school committees like SPAC and PSSC. Staying at home allowed me to be a part of all those firsts with our children: first tooth, first step, bumps and bruises, chicken pox, mumps, birthday parties, sleepovers, first dates, heartaches, picnics, sleep-in mornings and vacations. We attended youth conventions and summer camps with our kids, going along as volunteers and supervisors. We won our first Walt Disney World vacation using cents-off coupons at our local pharmacy, and then we funded our second trip with cash that I had earned while babysitting for my husband's co-worker.
Finances were tight sometimes, but we were blessed with contentment. A growing family and their growing expectations were expensive, but our needs were met, and often our wants as well. We grew our own garden, freezing, canning, pickling and jamming the produce. I sewed some of our clothing. We reduced, reused and recycled even before the slogan became popular. Breastfeeding and using cloth diapers provided us significant savings. My husband's optional workplace benefits were an added blessing. On our one income we financed driver's ed, first cars, orthodontic braces, ski equipment, lift tickets and even some brand name clothing for the kids as well. Our teenagers earned their own spending money, but they did not appreciate my little black book, where I kept an account of monies borrowed, etc.
What a bonus it was when our RRSP deductions were available to be a benefit on those dreaded income tax returns. We purchased payroll savings bonds to help us with unexpected expenses and those needed purchases at Christmastime. At 40 I became a stay-at-home grandmother, babysitting eventually two precious granddaughters. Because of financial circumstances, their moms could not be home with them full-time and could not afford day care.
When our youngest son was in grade 12, I began doing paid casual work at our local schools in the cafeteria and library. In 2006, I was asked to work with a child with special needs. At that time I realized how much I didn't know, so in 2007 I enrolled in an ABA—that's applied behaviour analysis—course at the college of extended learning. Post-secondary education was a prerequisite to entering the course. I had none, but since I had good references from the schools where I had volunteered, that requirement was waived. At 54 years old, I entered a university lecture theatre for the first time with fellow students younger than my children. Perseverance paid off and at age 55 I walked on stage to receive my certificate. At age 59 I was finally awarded a permanent educational assistant position. I had said earlier that I was an early bloomer. I guess I'm a late one too.
As I near retirement, I am considering a job-sharing opportunity. My leaving this position, though, leaves my husband and me with the added financial burden of covering our own medical health insurance costs, no small amount. Because of my late entry into the paying workforce, I have not had time to prepare adequately for retirement in terms of CPP or independent workplace retirement plans. Had my husband not wisely prepared for his retirement, we would be in a difficult position financially as I contemplate leaving the workforce and forgoing my income. Yes, he has his OAS, his CPP and his RRIFs, but where does that leave my contributed portion? I have an OAS, but with my combined allowance of 30 years child-rearing and the CPP I've paid since entering the workforce, I receive less CPP than our medical coverage will be.
I have great respect for those resourceful moms who are able to successfully wear both hats, but is there not something that our leaders today could do to allow kids to be at home with moms who are considered valuable contributors to the well-being of this wonderful land we call Canada? Who better to nourish and nurture our nation's children than those mothers who gave birth to them? Our granddaughter has now decided to leave the workforce to be with her little ones, working a small business from home. I wish her every success and trust that by the time she reaches my age and retirement, there will be benefits in place for stay-at-home moms.
My husband and I have now reversed our roles. I work five days a week and he keeps the house looking good. He's the one to volunteer, making frequent visits to the hospitals and the homes of shut-ins. He assists the pastor at our church. He does administrative work there and holds weekly outreach services. He performs weddings, funerals, baptisms and baby dedications, often for those who have no other church affiliation. He hosts fundraisers for local charities and benefits for those undergoing various medical procedures.
He is a busy community worker, but if my observations are correct, it appears that in our golden years his pension will contain substantially more gold than mine.
Thank you for listening to my story.
Thank you so much for your testimony. I have to say: what fantastic women! My mom was a stay-at-home mom as well. I am the middle child of three. I have two brothers: one younger, one older. I had the great pleasure of having my mom at home too, taking care of the home. When she retired at 65, she did not have CPP or sufficient RRQ—I'm from Quebec—contributions for her retirement, my dad being the working spouse. I know exactly what you're referring to.
Lynn, you mentioned that right now we're supporting a lot more working mothers, and there are many more women in the workforce now than in the past. I am a mother of two. I was an early bloomer as well. I had my first son at 20 and the second at 21. They're both out of the house and I'm able to do this job. What we have put in place is a child care benefit, which is a tax-free program for parents who, perhaps, want to stay home and raise their families and support them in that regard.
I know we've put some systems in place for families to be able to stay home and take care of the children when they're younger, but we've also increased the CPP contributions. We know that more and more people are not getting adequate CPP contributions, or not getting good private pension plans, or often work on contract.
We've increased that to 33% of contributions so that the next generation will be able to have more significant CPP contributions. But you've raised a really interesting point. To support stay-at-home parents—and I'll say “parents”, because we hopefully have some men who will stay home with their children as well—what would you recommend in terms of supports? Give us a concrete example of supports we could provide to acknowledge the contributions of a spouse staying home to raise their child or children? In terms of financial supports, what would you recommend we do to provide that option?
I want to say, Mary, that I'm also part of a military family, so kudos to you and your family for serving our country. Today's the 70th anniversary of NATO. I want to thank you and thank your husband for his service to Canada.
Can any of you give us some suggestions with respect to what we could do to help provide financial supports in addition to the CCB program?