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Michael Drebot near his Winnipeg home.Shannon VanRaes/The Globe and Mail

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“I retired in the spring of 2022, a few weeks before my 64th birthday, after working for more than 30 years in infectious disease research and public-health microbiology,” says Michael Drebot, 65, of Winnipeg, in the latest Tales from the Golden Age. “My last position was as acting director-general at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML). I was also an associate professor within the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Department at the University of Manitoba.”

The biggest challenge, he says, was adapting to a less demanding and hectic lifestyle after dealing with outbreak responses ranging from West Nile virus, Zika, H1N1 and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. “I sometimes miss the excitement of dealing with these public-health concerns, but I felt it was time to move on to a more leisurely lifestyle. I also wanted to retire while I was still in good health and able to be an active retiree.”

Drebot purposely retired in the spring to enjoy more outdoor activities such as golf, biking and gardening. “It was great to relax and focus on activities such as reading, writing and cooking for my girlfriend and our friends,” he adds. “I have a list of things to do in retirement including volunteering, relearning how to play the piano, some non-science writing and travel.”

His shift to retirement wasn’t dramatic, says Drebot. “I had some work to help me wind down including writing book chapters and research papers and helping graduate students from the university.” After about a year into retirement, NML asked him to take on some part-time contracts. It helps Drebot keep a toe in public-health microbiology activities and infectious disease science. “And since the work is part-time, it hasn’t affected my retirement schedule, including the number of golf games I sign up for!”

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.

Can Marjorie, 57, and Phillip, 60, afford to retire and keep their Toronto home?

Marjorie and Phillip give the impression of a couple hoping to retire from work soon, but are not sure if they are ready financially.

She is 57 and he will be 61 later this year. Marjorie has a $93,000 a year communications job and a defined benefit pension plan indexed to inflation. Phillip is self-employed with income of about $30,000 a year and falling.

“My husband was forced into semi-retirement because of the [COVID-19] pandemic and health issues,” Marjorie writes in an e-mail. “It’s changed our plan and we’re kind of struggling to adapt.”

They have a house in Toronto and two young adult children, one of whom is living at home. One problem is their debt. They still have about $157,000 outstanding on their mortgage and a $30,000 line of credit.

The other is their aspirations. Short-term, they want to renovate the kitchen and buy a “newish” car. Long-term, they want to help one of their children buy a first home. They want to travel three months each year to an “economical destination,” Marjorie writes.

Their retirement spending target? “This is hard to say because we are barely surviving now,” Marjorie adds. “Can I retire at 60? Or later?” Marjorie asks. “Can we afford to age in place in Toronto? I really want to stay in the city in our home.”

In this Financial Facelift, Jason Heath, a certified financial planner (CFP) and managing director of Objective Financial Partners Inc. in Markham, Ont., an advice-only financial planning firm, looks at Marjorie and Phillip’s situation.

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail

I’m 62 and barely contributing to CPP any more. Should I take my pension now?

“I am 62 and have been retired for five years,” writes a reader to The Globe’s Investor Clinic. “I have not yet applied for Canada Pension Plan benefits, and I’m wondering if I should start CPP now or wait. I work part-time at a garden centre to stay busy and continue to have CPP contributions deducted from my pay. The amount deducted is, of course, much less than when I worked full-time, when I always paid the maximum. As an example, in 2022 my CPP deduction was just $214. My question is: Am I hurting or helping my eventual monthly CPP income by waiting to start my pension?”

In this Investor Clinic, reporter and columnist John Heinzl ran the reader’s query by CPP expert Doug Runchey of DR Pensions Consulting.

Read the full article here.

In case you missed it

What type of grandparent will I become?

“I look around the circle of faces at this family gathering,” writes Patti Thompson in this First Person essay. “This is a far cry from my quiet life. My granddaughter builds a Magnatiles structure with the careful attention of an eight-year-old. Along comes her 20-month-old brother ready to swing and knock it down, a gleeful smile on his face.

Thompson’s adult children are engaged in conversation, with lots on their plates, so much of life still ahead of them. She’s aware of the feeling of being overwhelmed, which comes when she spends time in a setting bursting with sensory stimulation. “I listen and try to stay in the resonance of love. This is the buzz of a happy family setting after all. I concentrate, attempting to push back the voice that says, ‘you are irrelevant. What do you have to offer? You are moving too slowly and will be left behind.’”

At 69, the blessings of Thompson’s full, rich life are many, she says. “I look for ways to apply my gifts so that I might feel vital. We all want to matter and that need doesn’t disappear after a certain age. Perhaps I lack the strength to stare down aging? Stand tall, I think, despite my shrinking stature. Celebrate the wrinkles, the slightly stooped posture, the aches and pains of old injuries as they manifest into arthritis.”

Work used to be the place where Thompson used her gifts and felt her worthiness, she says. The busyness of life was a mark of success. “How do I move beyond proving and performance? It is an adjustment, smoothing out the edges of my restless spirit, the part of me that loves the next goal and the adrenalin rush of pushing myself. ‘Stop and notice,’” I tell myself. But how?

Read the full article here.

First Person is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at

Avoid leaving your heirs a nasty tax surprise on your RRIF assets when you die

Always get good tax advice after a loved one’s death to avoid nasty surprises, writes Tim Cestnick. “Last year my wife and I were travelling in Europe. We rented a car, and everything was going our way, until I discovered we were driving the wrong way on a one-way street – then nothing was going our way, literally. It’s not hard to make mistakes when you’re in unfamiliar territory.”

For many folks, the world of personal finance is unfamiliar territory, he notes. And if you’re not careful, mistakes can be costly. In this Tax Matters column, Cestnick talks about registered retirement income funds (RRIFs), and shares a story about a costly mistake, and how to avoid the same fate.

Read the full article here.

Retirement Q&A

Q: How do I decide what’s my best strategy to “pay” myself in retirement. What’s the difference between an annuity vs. income-earning investing paying out an income?

We asked Jamie Golombek, managing director and head, tax and estate planning at CIBC Private Wealth in Toronto, to answer this one.

These are two great questions.

Once you retire, you may have a variety of sources of income, from government and private pension plans, to a non-registered investment portfolio and, finally, any registered plan savings such as those in an RRSP, RRIF or TFSA.

How you choose to pay yourself, however, will depend on many factors including: how much you have, your risk tolerance, whether you wish to leave a legacy or inheritance to anyone after you’re gone, and, of course, your tax bracket and marital status (e.g. for pension income splitting).

Some retirees live on their CPP benefits and OAS payments, along with drawing down their RRSP/RRIF, as needed. For tax efficiency, many investors look to Canadian dividend-paying stocks in their non-registered investment account to generate lower-taxed, relatively stable income streams.

An annuity is yet another option. When you purchase an annuity, you transfer your funds to an annuity provider (typically a life insurance company) who will then provide you with a stream of regular (typically monthly) income. The amount of your annuity income, which is generally set up to be paid for life, is based on factors such as the amount you paid, life expectancy (i.e. your age) and interest rates. Since the payments are fixed at the time of purchasing the annuity, they may not be sufficient for your cash flow needs if future expenses are greater than your annuity payments. If you purchase the annuity with non-registered funds, a portion of the monthly payments will be tax-free, which can be quite advantageous. (Annuities purchased with registered funds are fully taxable.)

Be sure to consult with a financial advisor to put together the best retirement income plan for your specific needs!

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. Interested in more stories about retirement? Sixty Five aims to inspire Canadians to live their best lives, confidently and securely. Sign up for our weekly Retirement newsletter.

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