The Old Age Security system is under the gun.
Ottawa says it needs an overhaul. Just what exactly it has in mind will be revealed on March 29 when it delivers its budget.
The broad hints dropped to date have already rattled the retirement cage.
Especially among the most blessed generation of all time, the boomers, who are entering their so-called golden years.
For several decades now, they’ve been lured into believing that, through career thick and thin, they just had to hang in there and they’d be able to put their feet up much earlier than their parents could have ever imagined.
It was billed as Freedom 55.
The dream was neatly packaged and peddled to millions of unsuspecting Canadians who longed to be free in their 30s and 40s, but were persuaded to keep their nose to the grindstone until they’d reached that magical milestone.
At 55, they’d still be young enough to dance, but old enough to know that the limbo was probably a bad idea, at least not without a large supply of Motrin. On the bright side, they’d have the money to buy it.
In the meantime, if their financial house went sideways because they chose to buy groceries over gold stocks, they could take comfort in knowing the government’s Old Age Security system would swoop in and save them from a diet of alley cats in their senior years.
The dream started to crumble a few years ago when private pension plans fell into bankruptcy, interest rates flatlined and stock markets plunged.
The grand illusion was further eroded when Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the world from Switzerland recently that the Canadian pension system could not withstand the impending boomer juggernaut.
A possible solution: raise the qualifying age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67.
Apparently, this two-year difference could save the country from financial ruin and keep the economy humming.
Critics called it a “manufactured” crisis.
Those still clinging to the Freedom 55 notion called it time-to-face-the-cold-hard-truth: they’d been hoodwinked.
For the vast majority of Canadians, early retirement was never going to come to pass.
For many, even late retirement is starting to look like a long shot.
But perhaps, in this brave new world where 50 is the new 30 and 80 is the new 60, it’s just a matter of setting their sights a little farther afield and lowering expectations a tad.
Seventy-five is probably too old to solo cycle across Siberia, but soon technology will be able to replicate the experience down to the smallest detail, minus the run-in with the Russian mafia. And it won’t cost nearly as much money.
Freedom 85? It has a nice ring to it.