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Here in Canada we have something called the “Canada Pension Plan” that each working individual contributes to, and based on those contributions one gets a “state pension” – very much in the same vein as Social Security, Old Age Pension etc. As the pension is calculated using some sort of arcane formula that looks at all your employable years those individuals who take time out of their working lives to push out sprogs end up with lower CPP payments.

There’s this thing called the “Child Rearing Provision” which must be applied for, it’s not automatic, separately from their CPP application when all Canadians fill out shortly before retirement. Effectively if the application is approved, for the Provision, those years (up to age 7 of the child) are taken out of the arcane formula so that the CPP monthly payments will be higher.

As my mother produced 3 kids, and between my birth and my brother’s 7th birthday, that’s 12 years that got knocked off the CPP calculation. The net result is that my mother’s CPP payments have increased by about $110 per month. As she has been retired for a few years CPP has also given her the payments in arrears dating back to her first CPP payment, nearly 3 years.

I have found over the years that the different programmes out there designed to help the retired & elderly are rarely used as people are not aware of them. When I was taking a course a few years back about Personal Income Tax Returns I learned about a programme called “Guaranteed Income Supplement” which is to help out the elderly who are living below the poverty line. Much like the Child Care Provision, unless one knows that it exists it’s rarely applied for.

These types of programmes exist, but I am still taken aback at how little is known about them – is because HRDC (Human Resources Development Canada) doesn’t do an adequate job of advertising/promoting these programmes? Is it because people can’t be bothered to look? In my mother’s case her english is very bad, though she can read a newspaper and understand some television, her having a conversation with a civil servant is beyond her language abilities.

Those of you with aging parental units, I do urge you to look into whatever programmes are available to ensure that  your parents have as comfortable a retirement as possible.