CARP to Finance Ministers in Whitehorse: Time for action on pension reform


December 16, 2009

TORONTO, ON: On the eve of the Finance Ministers’ meeting in Whitehorse, CARP is urging them to reject self interested and ideologically driven messages and to take note of the plain evidence that Canada’s retirement system is broken.

CARP is calling for urgent action to fix Canada’s retirement system to better protect and support pensioners, to provide a supplementary pension plan for those without workplace pensions and to convene a Pension Summit at which retirees have a material role.

To help with their deliberations, CARP will poll its members for specific recommendations and call on them to tell their elected representatives that urgent action is needed.

“The question is whether Canadians can expect anything substantive to come out of the meeting. The public is way ahead of the politicians now. We know the system is broken – we see it in the faces of the thousands who had to march on Parliament Hill to make their case. The current laws need to change and there needs to be other options to help people better save for their own retirement. What really matters is that the public discourse has moved away from whether there should be a new retirement savings vehicle to what shape it should take and how much it would cost. Further delay is not an option”, said Susan Eng, Vice President, Advocacy of CARP.

Today’s CARP poll will reach 75,000 opt in subscribers to its e-newsletter, of whom 2,000 to 6,000 people regularly participate in the online poll. The poll results will provide input on some of the more thorny issues such as whether the plan should mandatory or voluntary and capture their reaction to some recent proposals. The average age of subscribers to CARP ActionOnline, a bi-weekly e-newsletter, is 69 years of age and 80% are retired. This is also the most politically engaged demographic; seventy percent [70%] vote regularly and can be considered a bellwether group.

[The poll is attached and may be found at: ]

Pension reform is finally on the agenda at Whitehorse

The economic turmoil and the plight of pensioners and other retirees has finally put Pension Reform on the agenda for the meeting of Canada’s Finance Ministers in Whitehorse on December 17 and 18th. At their meeting in May, 2009, the Finance Minsters made technical changes to the early and deferred retirement provisions of the Canada Pension Plan [CPP] but missed the opportunity to make substantive changes that would help people particularly hard hit by the market meltdown of the last couple of years.

Instead they agreed to set up a research working group and deferred any action until this December meeting in Whitehorse. The research is headed by noted academic Jack Mintz who has been on the record as minimizing the impact of the pension crisis and cautioning against the creation of a supplementary pension plan.

“Advocates for change were concerned that Professor Mintz was chosen precisely for his views in opposing the most important part of pension reform – to provide a new retirement savings vehicle for people who reject or cannot access the inadequate options now available. We remain hopeful that the Ministers will heed the voices of their constituents who stress the need for real reform and bold leadership,” added Eng.