Reflections on the social safety net

3 min readJun 7
Granny puppet with a pile of cash behind her
Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

I’m officially old ... and feeling grateful

This morning I was scrolling through my online banking website, checking that all the required utility and credit card payments were set up on time and to ensure I wasn’t at risk for an overdraft.

Quite unexpectedly, I noticed something that I had never “seen” before: a good third of the entries in my bank account records for the last month were related to pensions and associated benefits.

I guess that’s the proof: I’m officially old!

There was the monthly payment from the Canada Pension Plan. The Old Age Security Pension. The Municipal Employees Pension (a misnomer, because I was a provincial government employee, but never mind). The health benefits trust that reimburses prescription costs for retired provincial government employees.

All credits.

Three jars full of low value coins (“pennies”)
Image by Franz W. from Pixabay

When I was younger, Canada’s “social safety net” was something I took for granted, perhaps with a little pride and even smugness. But it hadn’t become concrete and personal for me until today when I stopped to think about how much difference these payments are making in my life as I age.

I’ve worked hard, earned good pay, and saved for my retirement. I’m fortunate, and relatively privileged. And the social safety net is a big part of my “good fortune”.

I don’t have to worry about the cost of my prescriptions. I can go to the dentist and many of the charges are reimbursed. I can choose to reduce my working hours and not have to worry about my household budget.

In many cases, the remittances I made to these pensions over my working life could be viewed as “forced savings” — the contributions to the various pension plans were mandatory, and in some cases I had to put in a certain amount of service before the benefits “vested”. And my payments were augmented by contributions from employers or government, all combined into insured and professionally managed investments.


Recreational writer, collector of antique corkscrews, urban gardener and management consultant to social profit organizations. Proudly Canadian.