Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
January 15, 2010

Improve pensions for all Canadians

The federal government is making noises about attacking public service pensions, but they should think twice about such a move. Recent economic turmoil has ruined retirement plans for many Canadians, but rather than going after decent pension plans, the government should be working hard at improving retirement income for all Canadians.

Federal and provincial finance ministers met in December 2009 to discuss pension reform, but in the end agreed to nothing more than another meeting in May 2010. The need for real action is pressing, according to groups that include the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). In a December 10, 2009 statement, CLC President Ken Georgetti noted:

Hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers have lost their jobs in the most serious economic downturn since the 1930s. Thousands of workers, such as those at Nortel and in the devastated forestry, pulp and paper sector, have seen their hard-earned pensions wiped out or put at risk due to plant closures and bankruptcies. But the problem of inadequate pensions existed prior to the recent financial crisis. The Conference Board of Canada reports that poverty rates among Canadian seniors doubled between 1995 and 2005. One-third of Canadian workers aged 24-64 have no personal retirement savings at all, and 61.5% of workers (11 million people) have no workplace pension.

Attacking public service pensions will not solve the retirement problems of millions of Canadians, but it does help distract the public from the government’s failure to deal with the real issue. “Our pension plan began in 1924 and it is a good example of what a decent pension plan should be,” said CEIU National President Jeannette Meunier-McKay, “and rather than attacking it, the government should get on with the job of genuine pension reform for the millions of Canadians who will otherwise face a very difficult retirement.”


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