||Volume 12, Number 5, March 2000
Is there life after teaching?
by Verena Foxx
When you wake up day after day and realize that your wrinkles are no longer from lack of sleep, overwork, or a late night, it may be time to accept that age has created the new look. I recently acknowledged this fact and thought I’d better start to look at the ominous “p” and “r” words of professional life—pension and retirement.
As a regular reader of Teacher, I have many times glossed over the retirement seminar listings (“oh yeah, those…”). This January I finally cut out that section, marked the applicable Vancouver date on all my calendars, secured my son’s Saturday morning soccer rides, and even invited a couple of colleagues to join me at the retirement planning session. It was a day well spent.
The information said “Saturday from 09:00 to 16:00; bring your recent pension statement and a calculator.” I managed that, conveniently walked to the hotel venue, ran into a few colleagues going in, and was directed into one of two lecture rooms with a thick booklet, “Planning a Positive Retirement,” compiled by the Retired Teachers’ Association, the BCTF, and the Teachers’ Pension Plan.
The agenda promised a 10:30 refreshment break, a no-host lunch break, and out the door by 15:30!
By the end of the day my head was spinning with information, but I had learned a lot. Even if I could never qualify for the plum 35-year, 70% pension, there were other ways to make the plan work for me. I knew about the 10-year minimum, the “90” factor, and about maximizing my education to get five best years of salary. Still, I hadn’t dared to calculate what I’d actually get, having started my teaching career rather late. Now I can hardly wait to click on www.pensions.gov.bc.ca (the superannuation Web site) to play with the pension estimator. I really understand the importance of getting an updated CPP (Canada Pension Plan) contribution statement. I comprehend a reduced versus unreduced pension; and the important decisions that have to be made about pension payments to affect legal and birthed loved ones. I freak out at the idea that the pension indexing fund could run out by 2025; and I see the urgency of keeping Canada’s Pension Plan out of the hands of certain politicians.
The speakers, both from the BCTF and RTA, were excellent. They provided lots of valuable information, and were very patient with all our questions. Most of the nearly 200 attendees seemed just as enthusiastic as I felt. For Terry Schuss of Vancouver, it was his second time at a planning session. He found his first experience “overwhelming,” but after he went home and crunched his numbers, he felt comfortable coming back for a catch-up. Les Rose, also of Vancouver, added that he’d been “many times” and still keeps on learning. Susan Bremness of Delta said, “It puts it all in perspective for me. I’m still about five years away from retirement, but now I have a vision of what I can do. It was very useful.” Others recommended “anyone over the age of 40 should go and then come back closer to retirement to see what has changed.” Attendees remarked that they now knew where to go for information, and which questions to ask. Everyone that I talked to, including non-teacher spouses, found it to be a very effective use of their otherwise precious Saturday. “It’s prudent to check out options,” concluded Jan Miko of Vancouver as she was leaving, “and to make long-term plans.”
Verena Foxx teaches at David Livingstone Elementary School, Vancouver.