Work can be a grind, but many Canadians find retirement is no picnic either

Although the idea of retirement may be alluring to some, according to a recent report from Statistics Canada, most Canadians would prefer to continue working.

The reasons people continue to work are varied, from financial concerns to deeper issues of purpose

An older woman baker smiles as she handles some buns.

As summer comes to an end and many Canadians return to work — if they were lucky enough to take a holiday — some people of a certain age may be wondering when they should switch on their out-of-office reply permanently.

Although the idea of retirement is alluring to some, according to a recent report from Statistics Canada, most Canadians would prefer to continue working.

The report, issued Aug. 1, says more than half of people planning to retire would continue to work if they could do so part-time, or if their work were less stressful or demanding.

The reasons they continue to work are varied, from financial concerns to deeper issues of purpose.

Louis Primavera, a licensed psychologist and author of The Retirement Maze, says people who retire often start out very positive but can start to feel lost after a while.

"Work creates an identity for us," Primavera told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "It creates a social system for us."

A senior couple sits on a wooden jetty by a lake.

About 30 per cent of people never adjust to retirement, he said, adding that there is a lot more antidepressant use among seniors who have retired.

But there are some commonalities among those who retire well, Primavera said, including creating a schedule, finding a new sense of identity and retiring at the same time as a partner or spouse.

Retirement 'a very emotional experience': former radio host

Long-time CBC Radio Vancouver host Rick Cluff knows all about the changes that come after a busy career. For more than 20 years, Cluff woke up at 3 a.m. to host The Early Edition.

"It is a very emotional experience when you say goodbye to something you've done for so long," Cluff told Daybreak Kamloops. "I miss the excitement, the electricity of going into work every day."

After years of working at a job he loved, interviewing everyone from prime ministers to corner shop owners, Cluff said retirement wasn't easy.

A white man with white hair smiles in front of a radio mic.

Cluff retired in 2017, when he was 68. He said a big factor in his decision was getting bypass surgery for his heart.

"When you retire, it's the first stage of coming to grips with your own mortality," he said. "You start thinking about how many summers you've got left and what you want to do with them."

According to Statistics Canada, health is one of the top considerations for people deciding when to retire.

A quarter of men and women who were retired said health — theirs or their spouse's — was the main factor contributing to their decision to retire.

Statistics Canada says people retiring for health or disability are more likely to have stopped working at a younger age.

The money factor

Money, and enough of it, is a huge concern for many, of course. With day-to-day costs rising, some retirees are facing tough choices these days.

More than half of Canadians still in the workforce past the age of 60 are there by necessity, not choice, according to a Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada in 2022. It cited essential expenses and pension ineligibility as the primary reasons people continued working.

According to that same report, more than a third of men and a quarter of women said finances were the main factor in determining their retirement.

Rubina Ahmed-Haq, a personal finance columnist, told Daybreak Kamloops that having enough money to retire is a genuine concern for many people — but she warns against all-or-nothing thinking.

Personal Finance expert Rubina Ahmed Haq

As people live longer, healthier lives, Ahmed-Haq said, many are able to find other uses for their skills and continue to work in other capacities.

"Get out of the rigmarole of Monday to Friday, nine to five — that's what people want to leave, not necessarily work," she said.

'I've retired 3 times'

That was the case for Tony Dufficy, who worked for the Kamloops School District for 31 years before he retired in 2003.

"I was really ready to retire," Dufficy said at a coffee shop in Kamloops, sitting along other spandex-clad bike riders around his age. "But when I did retire, I knew I needed to do something."

Dufficy went on to work for an international development non-profit, travelling the world for 15 years. He also taught first aid for another 10 years.

"I've retired three times," Dufficy told Joyce.

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