Fair Pensions for All Canadians

When Canadians retire they deserve fair and adequate pensions that allow them to live with dignity. Canada’s pension system is based on three pillars:

1. Universal Government Pensions:

  • Old Age Security (OAS) is a monthly pension benefit paid to almost all seniors in Canada. To qualify, you must be 65 years of age or older, though the 2012 federal budget raises that qualifying age to 67 for Canadians currently 54 and under (the changes begin to take effect in 2023).
  • The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is an additional pension benefit paid to low income seniors.
  • The Spouses Allowance is a monthly pension benefit designed to recognize the difficult circumstances faced by many surviving persons and by couples living on the pension of only one spouse or common-law partner.  It also includes an allowance for persons whose spouse or common-law partner has died. It is administered as part of the OAS program.
  • These government pensions increase with inflation.

2. Canada Pension Plan:

  • The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a mandatory, public, defined benefit pension plan that provide a basic level of earnings replacement for all Canadian workers. It also provides ancillary benefits, such as disability benefits and survivor benefits.
  • CPP provides a “defined benefit” in retirement – that is, a guaranteed monthly amount for the life of the beneficiary – based on an individual's earnings, replacing a maximum of 25 percent of earnings up to a limit. These retirement benefits increase annually with inflation.

3. Private Pensions and Savings:

  • Registered Pension Plans (RPPs) are workplace based pension plans typically negotiated as part of a union collective agreement. Contributions to RPPs receive tax incentives.
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) are voluntary, individual savings plans that provide no guaranteed benefit. RRSP contributions receive tax incentives.
  • Other private savings may also be needed to finance retirement. Some private savings, such as those accumulated in a Tax-Free Savings Account, receive tax incentives.

The MFL is working to protect and improve pensions for working Manitoba familiesTogether these pillars make up the Canadian pension system, but in recent years that system has fallen short of providing retirement security for all Canadians.

The global financial crisis undermined the value of many pensions and retirement savings schemes. More than 11 million Canadian workers, 68% of the workforce, have no workplace pension. Eight million have neither a private pension plan nor registered retirement savings plans. Canadian pension analyst James Pierlot estimates that, by 2030, "two-thirds of Canadian retirees will not have enough retirement income (and) are looking at relative poverty" (Source: AFL).

The MFL and the Canadian labour movement are fighting for a pension system that ensures retirement security for everyone. Find out more about our action on pensions.

You can find more pension information from these useful government resources:


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