More Canadians facing retirement as singles

More people in Canada today are retiring or living in retirement alone.

Recent census data from Statistics Canada shows that the percentage of one-person households now is at a high in the country’s 150-year history. The number of one-person households has risen steadily since 1951 and accounted for 28.2 per cent of all households in 2016, the highest share since Confederation in 1867.

A number of social, economic and demographic factors have contributed to this increase.

“Income redistribution, pensions and the presence of women in the workforce have led to more people being economically independent today than in the past, especially in older age groups,” the census report says. “In addition, higher separation and divorce rates have led to more people living alone instead of couples (and) population aging and higher life expectancy has also contributed to the increase in one-person households given that a larger share of seniors live alone as compared to other groups.”

Canada is not alone in this phenomenon. Its percentage of one-person households (28.2 per cent) was similar to that of the United States (27.5 per cent in 2012) and the United Kingdom (28.5 per cent in 2014) but lower than many other industrialized countries such as France, Japan, Sweden, Norway and Germany.

Singles — whether you are single by not marrying, through divorce or through the death of a spouse or partner — face unique challenges when preparing for retirement.

With couples there is usually one person who takes the lead in financial matters and the other person is in the background, but when you’re single it’s usually only you, so it becomes extremely important to understand your financial situation – what are your assets and liabilities, your income and expenses – and to create a budget to manage inflows and outflows.

As well, when you’re single there’s often no one to tell you you’re not saving enough or to pull in the reins on your spending, so it’s even more important to work with a financial planner and be willing to take constructive criticism and advice.

Singles usually will have only one income and have to shoulder the burden of expenses themselves while couples often will have two incomes in the household and share expenses, allowing them build a bigger nest egg for retirement.

Singles also are alone in terms of preparing for their care in their older years.

“Most people who are in a relationship will assume their partner or spouse will care for them if they become ill or incapacitated,” says Christine Van Cauwenberge, vice president of tax and estate planning with Investors Group. “This is not so obvious for singles who have to manage the risk when it comes to their care.”

Singles, she says, should consider taking out critical illness and/or long term care insurance and need to determine who their powers of attorney will be for their property and health care.

If there are no children involved they may want to choose a corporate trustee to handle their property and finances. This is a commercial organization – usually a bank trust department or trust company – which will manage and protect your wealth and carry out any of your individual wishes.

“You can determine how much money you want set aside for personal care with a personal support work or a care giver to continue to live at home,” Van Cauwenberghe says. “Don’t hesitate to pay for what you want.”

Many people may find themselves single in or nearing retirement due to “grey divorce.”

“We are seeing a lot of that these days,” Van Cauwenberghe says. “If this happens the best thing to do is to start with a blank sheet of paper and redo your financial, retirement and estate plans because now you are alone.”

You may have to decide whether you will have to change the timing of your retirement, prepare a new will, power of attorney, beneficiaries and set new goals and expectations for your retirement.

“When divorce happens people may forget these things or may think that they can’t make changes,” Van Cauwenberghe says. “They usually are so overwhelmed with the situation that they can’t think straight.”

No matter what state you are in – single, divorced or widowed — it’s a good idea for everyone to stress test their plans for the three D’s – death, divorce and disability. Many people just are not adequately prepared for these eventualities should they occur.

Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.

Just Posted

Thousands expected at memorial for fallen police officer in Abbotsford, B.C.

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The streets of Abbotsford, B.C., will be lined with… Continue reading

One person dead, five others injured in early-morning crash in Kingston, Ont.

KINGSTON, Ont. — A man who was checking the damage on his… Continue reading

Gus is a special, collaborative art exhibit inspired by motherhood

The portrait display by mother and son is showing in Red Deer

Robotics challenge sparks student interest in Red Deer

Student-built robots compete in fun challenge

Accused murderer tells all to Mr. Big undercover officer

Joshua Frank tells undercover police officer he shot the Klaus family

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

100+ Women Red Deer donate to Christmas Bureau

About $14,000 will help with Christmas hampers and toys

Semi collides with vehicle on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

Members of the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit dealt with a call on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

After 70 years, Red Deer veteran still remembers his traumatic war experience

Frank Krepps feels lucky to have survived the Second World War

Merritt Mountie charged with assault

Charges are in relation to an incident in May at the detachment, B.C. Prosecution Service said

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month