CARP calls on MPs to support increase to OAS, GIS, CPP, universal pension plan and a Pension Summit – vote on Tuesday June 16


June 12, 2009

CARP calls on MPs to support increase to OAS, GIS, CPP, universal pension plan and a Pension Summit – vote on Tuesday June 16

TORONTO, ON: CARP released an open letter calling on MPs to support an Opposition motion for immediate government action to increase OAS, GIS, CPP and to support CARP’s demands for a universal pension plan and a Pension Summit as soon as possible. [Please see text of open letter below]

An Opposition motion introduced in the House of Commons yesterday is expected to be voted on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 and calls on the government to act promptly to address concerns about retirement security. [Please see link to parliamentary debates below]

This will set a priority in the parliamentary agenda on increasing Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplements and Canada Pension Plan benefits and giving precedence to pension benefits in the event of a bankruptcy. These proposals will help address the immediate concerns of retirees.

“Retirees ravaged by this economic downturn cannot wait for more studies. Government can 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”, said Susan Eng Vice President, Advocacy of CARP.

“CARP members will be pleased to know that MPs of all parties took their concerns seriously, including the many issues [in addition to increasing OAS, GIS and CPP] that CARP has pursued like the two-year moratorium on RRIF withdrawals and a new or enhanced access to a retirement savings vehicle like the CPP. We will be encouraging our members to make their views known to their MPs in advance of Tuesday’s vote on the motion,” added Eng

There has been growing recognition that Canadians are not saving enough for their own retirement and that even those with workplace pensions are at risk in the current economic climate. CARP has called for a Universal Pension Plan modeled on the CPP for the estimated one in three Canadians who retire without any retirement savings.

Although the Opposition Motion does not explicitly call for a new retirement savings vehicle, the call for an increase in CPP benefits is a step in the direction of improving access to retirement savings options.

Three provincial pension review panels [BC-Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario] identified the need to provide broader access to larger well-managed pension funds for working Canadians who do not have access to workplace sponsored plans.

Despite several provincial Finance Ministers calling for a Pension Summit at their May 25, 2009 meeting, the issue of pension reform was relegated to a research working group which is due to report at the end of the year. If the MPs endorse the call on the federal government to work with the provinces, this would add pressure to keeping the responsibility to address the retirement insecurity facing Canadians with the elected ministers and not with yet another expert panel.

“All Canadians will benefit if the federal and provincial governments immediately start constructing a Universal Pension plan – a universally accessible and affordable retirement savings vehicle that is robust enough to withstand demographic and economic challenges like those we are now witnessing. The first step is to convene a Pension Summit at which representatives of retirees have a material role”, added Eng.