‘Zoomers’ get first Quebec chapter

Montreal Chapter Board

Originally published in the The Suburban September 28th 2011. To go to the The Suburban website please click here

CARP-sponsored group brings membership benefits to Montreal

By Ian Howarth

In today’s marketing world, it is neither the pre-teen nor the upwardly mobile professional that are the target of advertisers and product manufacturers. Rather, get used to the Baby Boomer generation heading gracefully towards their ‘golden’ years getting the heavy sell. And, if you believe that generation’s expanded age parameters put forth by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) — now headed up by media guru Moses Znaimer — the Boomer demographic now takes in those aged 45-plus. And they represent the largest segment (45 percent or roughly 15 million people) of the Canadian population.

Since Znaimer took over as CARP president in 2008, the number of Canadian chapters has increased from 14 to 45, including the recently baptized Montreal Metro-West chapter.

CARP now boasts more than 350,000 members nation-wide and publishes a splashy, hip, monthly magazine appropriately called Zoomer, geared towards fashionable, media-savvy, multi-tasking volunteers and entrepreneurs — hardly just the retired or retiring.

Paul Reisman, founder and president of CARP’s recently formed Montreal Metro-West chapter, seized the opportunity to head up the first Quebec CARP chapter — something head office in Toronto felt was long overdue. “CARP is now thinking more nationally,” explained Reisman, a 64-year-old retirement planner, talent management consultant and career coach.

“There are 15,000 CARP members in Quebec — 3,000 of them in the Montreal area — but up until now they were not part of a geographic group, one that could represent their specific needs.”

The fact that Lac Saint Louis MP Francis Scarpaleggia and some West Island mayors attended the inaugural meeting speaks volumes about the power of their constituency. An estimated 15-20 percent of West Island communities are now made up of citizens aged 65-plus.

At the first meeting, almost 50 people signed CARP memberships. “Joining CARP is about getting involved in the community with other like-minded people,” said Reisman. “That’s the whole thrust of CARP.”

Next on his agenda will be corralling volunteers and planning for the next meeting in late November and Reisman has a talented executive team of seven to help keep up the initial momentum. Retired high school teacher Robin Narsted, one of three women on the local executive, has taken on the membership director portfolio. “I think a CARP chapter here is vital,” she said.

“I’ve been a CARP member for years but I wanted to see a Quebec chapter, which is why I got involved. CARP is really the only national voice for seniors and we have to make sure our voices are heard.

Zoomers speak with more than their voices and if CARP statistics are to be believed the 45-plus-crowd accounts for 60 percent of all consumer spending. And a growing CARP membership has additional benefits. The organization has gone to bat for seniors on the political field. For one, they were instrumental in getting the federal government to buy into the idea of income splitting, giving seniors an important tax break. In turn, seniors helped put the Conservatives into its current 166-seat majority.

This is a voting demographic politicians cannot ignore: Statistics Canada says 65-plus voters are a reliable lot, with 90 percent exercising their democratic right. And there’s more. William Smith, a retired Atomic Energy of Canada Limited employee and his wife Joan, have been CARP members for five years and took in the first meeting at the Baie d’Urfé Curling Club. “We like to travel and CARP membership gave us a significant discount on our recent trip to Europe,” said Smith.

“I hope the founding of this group will bring people from the West Island communities together. We look forward to events we can be a part of. There’s power in numbers and we need someone like CARP standing up for us.”

For more information, email Paul Reisman at [email protected]

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