Changing plans

September 28, 2015

Alicja Reynolds and her husband figured that five years would give them plenty of time to establish their careers and build a foundation on which to start a family.

Since she was a high school student, Alicja knew that teaching was a calling she had to answer. Six years after tying the knot and graduating from teachers' college, a permanent full-time position still eludes Alicja. She's not alone. On average it takes new members to our plan about seven years to secure a permanent position.

"When I was starting teachers' college, I never would have guessed that I would still be an occasional teacher," she said. "In school they prepared you for the reality that finding a job won't be easy, but I didn't think it would be this hard."

Alicja considers herself lucky to have landed a steady stream of long-term occasional positions (aka LTOs) between Wellington Catholic District School Board and Waterloo Catholic District School Board, save for one and a half semesters.

"It was always our plan that once I got a permanent job, then we'll have a baby. It came to the point where we had been married for five years and there was no permanent job in sight," Alicja said. "So, we just decided we can't put our lives on hold forever."

In late 2014 the couple welcomed Vienna. Alicja took a maternity leave to spend that first year at home with her daughter. Now, as Vienna is about to celebrate her first birthday, Alicja's thoughts are turning to going back to work and deciding if she is going to buy back her leave.

"It's stressful to think about being away from Vienna next year," she said. "But, I am really looking forward to getting back into the classroom."

When it comes to buying back, she recognizes that it's a wise investment that will pay off in the long term. With daycare bills looming, a new family home under construction, RESP contributions and a lack of job certainty, Alicja and her husband need to consider whether the disposable income will be there over the next five years to pay for her buyback.

She's committed to using all of the tools available to find the solution that fits her situation, including BabySteps—Teachers' app for members to track their maternity leave buybacks—and the Buyback Centre in her secure Teachers' online account.

"As an occasional teacher, there's no guarantee that I'll have a job in the following semester, let alone in the years ahead. It's really important to plan for the times when you may not have a job," Alicja said. "I think buying back is really important even though retirement isn't just around the corner for me. I still realize how important it is to save for it. I won't think twice about it, even if it means sacrificing some of the luxuries we currently enjoy."