Q&A: Staying off the streets

Question: I am 60 years old and came to Canada when I was 27. I spent a few years raising my children as a single parent, and then worked in low paying jobs. I own no property and have no savings. My old age pension will be very low and certainly not enough to live on. What can I do to stay off the streets in my old age? – Kathleen B.

Gordon Pape responds: For starters, you should continue to work for as long as possible. This may allow you to put aside some money in savings. Make use of the new Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) that will be introduced next year for this purpose. Working longer will also enable you to build more Canada Pension Plan credits, thereby increasing the amount of your retirement benefit when the time comes to quit. If you can keep working until 65, you will also be eligible to collect Old Age Security (OAS) which will add to your income.

There are government programs that provide additional financial assistance to low-income people, such as the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement which is operated in conjunction with OAS. When the time comes, check to see if your provincial government also offers any income support programs. Good luck.

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