Thunder Bay, ON — The issue of pension reform was on the minds of the Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP) while Canada’s provincial premiers met in Regina this week.
“The time for action is now – how many more pensioners have to be robbed of their retirement security before the government acts. If the federal government refuses to take a leadership role, the provinces can act within their own jurisdiction,” says Susan Eng Vice President, Advocacy of CARP.
CARP called on the provincial premiers meeting in Regina to take the lead in pension reform starting with a Pension Summit at which retirees have a seat at the table. The group states that “The federal government appears unmotivated to act, choosing instead to create yet another research working committee after the Finance Ministers meeting on May 25, 2009 at Meech Lake”.
“The issue has been researched across the country by no fewer than three major provincial expert panels. The need now is for the Premiers and their Finance Ministers to sit down and start constructing the solutions and to make sure that those most affected have a seat at the table,” added Eng,
CARP has called for pension reform that will rebalance the interests of plan members and their employers, including strengthening deficiency funding obligations and giving pension members a higher priority in a bankruptcy. There are two current high profile cases – the Nortel bankruptcy and the CHCH pension fund wind up – which are unfortunate examples of why such reform is immediately necessary.
“The time for action is now – how many more pensioners have to be robbed of their retirement security before the government acts. If the federal government refuses to take a leadership role, the provinces can act within their own jurisdiction,” added Eng. “Incremental, or minimalist, change is no longer acceptable to a growing segment of the Canadian public, not least because this market turmoil has reached deeper and wider than ever before. Now, people with “guaranteed” pensions find common cause with the people, without such pensions, watching their RRSPs evaporate”.
CART states that “This crisis has also exposed the flaws in the existing pension regulatory regime and the current plight of the Nortel and CHCH pensioners is a prime example. Pension reform that seeks to rebalance the interests of the employees/retirees and the employers/plan sponsors is long overdue but requires bold political leadership”.
According to the group, “The federal government includes in its talking points that ‘on June 16, 2009, a motion proposing that the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories to ensure the sustainability of the retirement incomes of Canadians received unanimous support in Parliament’ “.
“Retirees ravaged by this economic downturn cannot wait for more studies. This tremendous and immediate response from our members shows how important this issue is for them. Government needs to act immediately to give them help now by increasing OAS, GIS and CPP and better protecting the interests of those with pension plans. It is also time to act for those without pensions”, added Eng