No Bailout on backs of Retirees, says CARP – Seat at table needed for Retirees

March 18, 2009

TORONTO, ON: In response to reported demands from Canada’s largest employers to make permanent the temporary permission to extend their deficiency funding period from 5 to 10 years, CARP, Canada’s largest national advocacy group for the 45plus, says a resounding “No, not on the backs of retirees!”
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Extending the deficiency funding period puts the pensioners at risk – prolonging their uncertainty with no guarantee that the pension fund will ever be made whole. The temporary relief proposed in the November 2008 Economic Statement included pre-conditions of either the approval of the plan members or obtaining a letter of credit. The employers’ group is asking for the extension without the conditions.

“For precisely these kinds of decisions, retirees are no longer willing to be bystanders in pension reform discussions and call for a Pension Summit of all First Ministers and Finance Ministers at which they would be properly represented”, sais Susan Eng, Vice President, Advocacy of CARP

While much of the threat to pension plan solvency is due to the market meltdown, decisions to take contribution holidays or attempts to divert surpluses as well as poor investment decisions also contributed to the current insecurity. Yet plan members and especially retirees do not have an adequate governance role over their own retirement security.

“If pensioners had a real say in how their pensions were managed, some of the recent disasters might have been averted. They would not have approved risky investments and most certainly would not have permitted contribution holidays without some assurance of future solvency. Now that there is finally some political appetite to reform the regulatory framework, plan members, especially retirees, must have material role in the deliberations”, added Eng.

CARP has 330,000 members and 23 chapters across the country. The Common Front for Retirement Security [CFRS] is comprised of 21 organizations representing over 2 million people collectively. CARP and CFRS made a joint submission in response to the Minister of Finance’s call for consultations. To view submission click here

Although not given a formal slot in the roster of speakers, CARP and CFRS will attend and will be available for comment at the Toronto public consultation meeting to be held:

on Friday, March 20th

at the Royal York Fairmont – room: Confederation 5/6,

9:00 am – 11:30 am,

hosted by Ted Menzies, Parliamentary Assistant to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

The Joint Submission also called for pension reform that will protect plan members and retirees with protecting surpluses and disallowing contribution holidays and a proper governance role and for a universal pension plan to provide access to retirement savings for the estimated one in three Canadians who retire without any retirement savings. To read the executive summary/backgrounder click here

There are approximately 14.5 million Canadians 45 years of age or older, representing 42% of the Canadian population. There are 4.6 million Canadians over 65 years of age, representing 13.3% of the Canadian population. These are the citizens whose future prospects have been most seriously affected by the economic downturn.