January 30, 2014
As Canada’s workplace based pension plans continue their slide into irrelevance, more and more Canadians are relying on income from public pension plans such as CPP/QPP and Old Age Security to make ends meet.
Many workplace pension plans exist today because unions and their members bargained hard (and went on lengthy strikes) to win them. They’ve worked hard to keep them as defined benefit plans (where the employer guarantees a “defined” amount of income per month), resisting employer efforts to convert them to defined contribution plans (where an agreed to amount is contributed by the employer and the employee to an investment fund and the worker gets to withdraw whatever is there on retirement. If it’s not enough to live on…tough).
Too many employers have successfully changed defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans over the past two decades…leaving more and more working families on shaky ground once they can’t work anymore. At the same time, the Harper Conservatives and too many provincial governments are attacking the union movement through the endless introduction of right-to-work laws that are designed to weaken it and make sure it is less effective at the bargaining table and unable to protect workers.
Increasingly, Canadians have to rely on public plans such as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security to make ends meet. The problem is, CPP and OAS can’t keep up. The Canadian Labour Congress, Federations of Labour and Labour Councils have been waging a campaign for the last two or three years to convince Ottawa, the Territories and the Provinces to agree to restructure CPP and double benefits (with a relatively modest increase in premiums) and throw a life line to our seniors and keep them above the poverty line.
That campaign has worked. There is broad agreement among the provinces, territories, pension specialists and economists that this is exactly the thing to do.
It’s possible to do, it’s affordable to do and it’s the right thing to do.
The only hold-outs are the Harper Conservatives and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. They seem to have the notion that things are fine! Don”t worry. If you have to live in poverty when you can no longer work, it’s your fault. Tough it out!
Linda Nguyen has an informative (and depressing) take on the situation facing aging workers (and young workers as well) today. Click here to have a read….