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Helen Knoll Ries, sibling caregiver to her brother Paul Knoll, who has Down Syndrome, on Dec. 9, 2022, in Ottawa.Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

For family caregivers, cost of unpaid care work is both personal and professional

Helen Ries was in her forties when her father died in 2011, and then her mother in 2014, a turn of events that left her as the main caregiver for her brother Paul Knoll, who has Down syndrome.

Ms. Ries moved her brother, who is now 50, into the Ottawa home she shares with her husband. Since then, she has supported her sibling through a depression that arose following their parents’ deaths. She has been there, too, through his cervical spinal surgery and numerous other medical crises.

Today, Ms. Ries manages 14 additional people to aid Mr. Knoll. Personal support workers help him get ready in the morning and assist him at bedtime, while other care providers fill his days with art classes, library visits and aquafit workouts. Although Ms. Ries must co-ordinate this small army of help – and pays for some of it out of pocket – she knows without it she wouldn’t manage.

Ms. Ries is part of a growing cohort of Canadians caregiving for family or friends – a number set to increase further as the population ages and more people seek to age at home instead of in institutional settings. As it is, in 2018, one in four Canadians cared for family members or friends who were aging, had long-term health conditions, or physical or mental disabilities, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada.

Canadians spend 5.7 billion unpaid hours each year on caregiving, with many of them struggling to balance the demands of care and paid work, according to The Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence.

There are, however, organizations that are lobbying policy makers and fighting to support uncompensated caregivers.

Read the full article here

Should Frank and Michelle pay off the mortgage on the house using some of the money from her purchase of a half-share in the residence?

Frank and Michelle are planning to marry soon, merging their finances to some extent while being mindful of the interests of their four children. Frank is 75, Michelle is 72.

They are each getting Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits and drawing from their registered retirement income funds (RRIFs). Michelle also gets 60 per cent of her late husband’s defined benefit pension.

To avoid misunderstandings, their lawyers are drawing up a cohabitation agreement. Michelle plans to put her B.C. home up for sale and use some of the proceeds to buy a half share of Frank’s residence. Frank wonders whether they should use some of the proceeds to pay off their mortgage. As well, they want to give a cash gift to their children.

They have two main questions: Can they preserve most of their estates for their heirs and still have enough cash flow to take $20,000 trips each year for the next five years? “Can we gift up to $400,000 to our children in the next two or three years?”

Their retirement spending goal is $100,000 a year after tax.

In the latest Financial Facelift, Warren MacKenzie, a chartered professional accountant, certified financial planner, and head of financial planning at Optimize Wealth Management in Toronto, looks at Frank and Michelle’s situation.

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail

Why real wage growth has been stagnating – and how it impacts OAS

Before 1975, real wages typically grew by more than 2 per cent a year. Wages have barely kept up with price inflation since then. In the latest Charting Retirement article, Fred Vettese, former chief actuary of Morneau Shepell and author of Retirement Income for Life, examines the cause and effect.

Read the full article here

In case you missed it:

Tax planning resolutions that can put more money in your pocket

Now that it’s nearly tax time, tax expert Tim Cestnick says it’s also time to think about your New Year’s resolutions. Last year, Cestnick writes, his resolution was to stop procrastinating, but admits he still hasn’t gotten around to it. According to Cestnick, comedian Ellen DeGeneres says that we shouldn’t be able to create new resolutions until we’ve finished the old ones. That should keep everyone busy in 2023. She also suggested that Jan. 1 is not the best time to start new resolutions, he adds. After all, many people are hungover and have bigger priorities at noon on Jan. 1 – like, where are my pants?

Still, Cestnick suggests a resolution for you to consider for 2023: Make one change that will reduce the taxes you pay. That’s it. If you did this every year, the tax savings would compound and make a meaningful difference to your net worth and overall financial well-being.

The question is: What ideas are available to implement? From deducting to dodging, learn more about the five pillars of tax planning by reading the full article here

How one 69-year-old took on the unexpected and built resilience in her retirement life

“After COVID and Hurricane Ian, I have come to realize much of what I planned for my retirement are an illusion for the foreseeable future,” writes Janet Gottlieb Sailian, 69, in the latest Tales from the Golden Age, from her winter home in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

Sailian officially retired in 2019, at 66, from a career as a communications and marketing professional in the education sector, including at Laurentian University in Sudbury and Branksome Hall in Toronto. She also worked for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in Washington, D.C., and for the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education in Toronto. The dual Canadian-U. S. citizen lives in Toronto and spends about six months a year in Florida in a home owned by her partner.

After retiring, Sailian wrote her self-published book, A Warrior of Last Resort, based on her partner’s time in the military in the Vietnam War and Cold War eras, in January, 2020. “We had our first promotional event in mid-March that year, just before the pandemic lockdowns,” she says. The timing, she adds, was unfortunate because it meant they couldn’t promote the book in person.

Sailian’s plan was also to do a bit of freelance writing in retirement but, with the pandemic, there wasn’t much work at first. Thankfully, she says, things started to pick up again in late 2020. “Freelance writing not only keeps my mind sharp but also keeps me engaged in something I really care about, which is educational advancement.” Sailian admits that she also needs to freelance for financial reasons.

”My investment portfolio has taken a serious hit over the past year, which has been the case for many people, and the cost of living has also increased.”

Read the full article here

Are you a Canadian retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? The Globe is looking for people to participate in its Tales from the Golden Age feature, which examines the personal and financial realities of retirement. If you’re interested in being interviewed for this feature, and agree to use your full name and have a photo taken, please e-mail us at: Please include a few details about how you saved and invested for retirement and what your life is like now. We look forward to hearing from you.

Retirement Q&A

Question: I’m 60, and I’m ready to leave corporate life and semi-retire. I’d like to go freelance part time to continue earning some income, but without feeling overwhelmed. How can I plan for this new work/life balance?

We asked Susan Latremoille, partner and co-founder of Next Chapter Lifestyle Advisors, and a designated FEA (Family Enterprise Advisor) and CPRC (Certified Professional Retirement Coach) in Toronto.

Professionals preparing to retire face many challenges that they are not aware of. These challenges include: loss of identity, purpose, social connection, structure, etc.Without a plan, you run the risk of over-committing to things and then finding that while you are busy, you don’t have a feeling of accomplishment. Would you embark on a world tour without an itinerary? Not likely – then why would you embark on the years in retirement without a roadmap?

Making a retirement lifestyle plan is as important as having a retirement financial plan – yet, one wouldn’t think about navigating their financial future without a financial adviser. A model that we work with for a retirement lifestyle plan centres around happiness. It consists of areas of life that are non-financial that should be both diversified and balanced – just like a financial plan or investment portfolio. A retirement lifestyle planner can help with the transition and designing your new life.

Happiness is what we all strive for in our lives but it can be elusive unless carefully considered and planned for. Since too much of any one thing does not contribute to happiness, balance is key. People sometimes think that a life of leisure will bring happiness, but often they find that too much golf, too much travel, too much relaxation, is not fulfilling. There is a term called “hedonic adaptation,” where we get used to whatever we have/do and it doesn’t become as rewarding.

A person’s individual happiness plan is a model that retirement lifestyle planners can help people create for themselves. Looking at the next chapter, create a lifestyle game plan that includes strategies to help bring clarity, confidence and focus to this stage of life. The key is to allocate your time within your happiness plan that you want to spend working, and balance this with the other aspects of your life.

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors? E-mail us at and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.

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