Few want to work after 65, says prof

Ontario workers will be able to stay at their jobs as long as they’re able when the province scraps mandatory retirement at age 65, Labour Minister Chris Bentley says, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 19 in a front-page story also published in The Hamilton Spectator. About 64,000 people in Ontario retired last year, according to Statistics Canada. The average retirement age in Canada is 61, down from 65 two decades ago. “There’s just a small group of people who typically want to keep working past 65,” said Thomas Klassen, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts. “They’re the ones who have interesting jobs, like Paul Martin, [along with] people who are poor and if they retire they won’t have enough money.” Klassen said scrapping mandatory retirement wouldn’t have made sense in Canada 20 years ago, when the unemployment rate was high, but it does now, with a lower jobless rate and an expected shortage of younger workers as baby boomers retire.

Don’t panic over pricey oil, says Wolf

Crude oil prices continue to climb toward the US$50 a barrel level, breaking records along the way, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 19. Even if the price of a barrel of oil hits $50, once it is adjusted for inflation, the price of crude is still well below the peaks of the late ’70s and early ’80s, says Bernie Wolf, an economics professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Furthermore, last year’s jump in the Canadian dollar is helping blunt the jump in oil prices. “This is not the time to be complacent about this, but on the other hand, it is not the time to panic,” said Wolf. It takes a long time for consumer behaviour to respond to higher oil and gasoline prices, said Wolf. “If this keeps up, my suspicion is people will start to move away from gas guzzlers,” he said. “But we are talking years, not months.”

Principal secretaries wield huge power in PM’s office

The very existence of the principal secretary’s role has sometimes been criticized, reported the Ottawa Citizen Aug. 19 in a front-page story about Prime Minister Paul Martin’s appointment of Helene Chalifour-Scherrer to his inner circle. “Huge amounts of power are wielded by officials who are not elected,” said George Szablowski, a retired political science professor from York’s Faculty of Arts. In the past, principal secretaries have often been individuals with personal ties to the prime minister.” Choice of this person is dictated entirely by the interests and preferences of the prime minister,” said Szablowski. “It’s a person he likes. There has to be personal compatibility. He has to be confident in her as a person he can work with.”