Retirement for new Canadians

Make sure you know the rules for any retirement programs and how they apply to you.



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Moving to a new land is a huge change. There are cultural issues. There may be religious issues. You’ll no doubt miss your “home” a lot. But moving to a new land brings big opportunities for those who are prepared to take advantage of them. Many new Canadians have done very well by working hard and appreciating the second chance they have to build the life they want.

The biggest mistake you can make financially as a new Canadian is to jump into something you don’t understand simply because it’s the way everyone else is going. While seeing the opportunities and making them work for you makes good sense, adopting bad habits does not.

You also can’t assume that the universal benefits you hear about will apply to you. Everything has a rule, and if you don’t fit the rule, you don’t get to play in the game. Our government pensions are a good example of this. You can’t assume you’re going to get the maximum amount talked about in the media and in financial brochures. There are specific rules for qualifying for the maximum and anyone who has lived in Canada less than 40 years likely won’t get the maximum amount available from Old Age Security (OAS). (See my next blog for more on this.) Since the Canada Pension Plan is a contributory system—what you take out is based on what you put into the plan—you might not get the maximum from that plan either.

If you come from a tradition where children take care of their elders and your family maintains that tradition, then you’re very lucky. However, know that life for your children in Canada will be very different than you might now imagine. They will experience their own struggles to make a home for their family. If they marry out of your culture, that may create tension if you try to move in later. And if they must relocate for work—and relocation is a way of life in North America—will you want to move away from everything you have to live with your immediate family? If not, you better have enough money to take care of yourself.

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