CARP to meet with Kennedy today

A seniors advocacy group wants the province to invest some of its offshore oil revenue into a new universal pension plan to help seniors, especially those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Representatives of CARP, the countries largest national advocacy group for older Canadians will meet with Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy today to discuss retirement security and pension reform.

Leading the delegation for CARP is Susan Eng, its vice-president of advocacy.

CARP, formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, has kept its moniker but doesn’t use the long form any more, Eng said, because many older Canadians can’t afford to retire.

Eng told The Telegram this week that one in three Canadians retire without any income from a pension or registered retirement savings plan, beyond the mandatory government plans – Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

“We’re arguing there should be a universal pension plan that’s accessible to everybody, and we give the example of the CPP as one of the models that (could be used),” she said.

Eng said that model isn’t etched in stone, but would likely include contributions from employers as well as workers.

She said the CPP was the pension plan which survived the recent global economic downturn almost unscathed.

No matter what a new pension plan could look like, Eng said it would have to be universally accessible, affordable, sustainable and adequate for people to live on.

She said the current CCP is not adequate for people to live on and just keeps seniors out of abject poverty.

Eng said this province could be a national leader in such a pension plan because it could invest some of the profits from the offshore.

“I think the province can show leadership, and if they do, the other (provinces) will follow,” Eng said.

She hopes Kennedy will consider the idea in the same way the province used Atlantic Accord money in the past to top up the unfunded liability of the province’s pension plan for teachers.

Eng said she’ll also talk to Kennedy about issues like mandatory retirement, home care and other issues which affect seniors.

CARP currently has 1,400 members on the Avalon Peninsula alone and 35 chapters across the country.

Television mogul Moses Znaimer, famous for Toronto’s City TV and MuchMusic, is CARP’s president and will also be in St. John’s Sunday.

The St. John’s-Avalon chapter of the CARP and the MUN Pensioners Association are holding a public meeting on Sunday, Sept. 20, from 2-4:30 p.m. in the main auditorium of the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s. The meeting will recognize 2009 as the 25th anniversary of the founding of the national organization of older Canadians.

© The Telegram

Keywords: pension, CPP