Peggy Prendergast 

Retired Teachers Association of Manitoba

There is an old saying “There is nothing new under the sun.” The Spanish flu pandemic that ravaged the world a century ago took the life of my grandmother in Ireland in 1918, almost at the end of World War 1. Here am I, a little over a century later, an older adult, faced, like her, with being one of the most vulnerable people in the population in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The highest percentage of deaths are in my age group. By following the rules set out for me, I am reasonably certain that, if I follow them as I have been doing, I will be safe from the virus. I am however, vulnerable in another sense and ask myself, as I am sure many other older adults are doing, how secure is my income? Will it be affected by COVID-19 to the extent that I will have a problem surviving?

The world today, facing the same disaster as my grandmother did, is much different. As an older adult I receive OAS and, because I worked, CPP, both from the federal government. As a retired teacher I receive a provincially legislated pension. The pension fund has weathered the storms of the past forty years. That is not in my control. What is in my control I have learned from social isolation. I am saving money by living the simple life. Eating out consists of the odd trip to a drive through. The resource I have found that is saving me money is time. I have observed that my money has devalued because of inflation but my time has become more and more precious. I can fill it with what nourishes and excites me, volunteering and creative activities.

 Money is one of the tools to get what is wanted out of life. Having a philosophy about money because it is needed in our everyday life, and lifetime, makes “Money and the Meaning of Life” by Jacob Needleman a useful resource re a personal perspective. It becomes part of a life plan and how much of it is necessary for personal satisfaction. Social isolation has taught me how to get more pleasure and satisfaction from everyday living needing less money.

The pandemic following the First World War was devastating and was followed ten years later by the great depression of the 1930s. It was during that depression that the concept of pensions became a reality. Many people today are now dependent, for a short time, on the government for money to pay their bills because of this pandemic. An experiment in universal income was conducted in Dauphin over fifty years ago. Maybe that will be explored. Whatever happens, let us hope that the concept of “We are in this together,” and respect for all ages, holds true into the future. The Retired Teachers Association of Manitoba values belief in mutual respect, diversity of opinion, tolerance of different viewpoints, integrity and transparency while working collaboratively towards a common goal.

Peggy Prendergast is the President of RTAM.

Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba (RTAM) is located at 206 – 1555 St. James St., Winnipeg. Call 1-204-889-3660, email [email protected] or go online to www.rtam.mb.ca.