Government called out on slow pace of pension reform

This article was originally published in Benefits Canada on Monday January 11th, 2010. To view their webpage, please Click Here

Seniors advocacy group CARP has vowed to pursue a public campaign to hold the federal government’s feet to the fire by demanding a commitment to pension reform in the March throne speech. Aside from some technical changes to the Canada Pension Plan in May 2009, no action has been taken to address the need for a supplementary pension plan, explains Susan Eng, CARP’s pension specialist. Further, the Prime Minister’s prorogation of parliament has ensured that there is no opportunity for public input into any budget deliberations.

Eng is promising to keep the issue front and center until the government makes good on its promise to address the lack of private sector pension coverage. “Politicians cannot continue to play political games with people’s retirement security,” she says. “If they do not want to do anything to help, then they should say so and not try to wear people out with interminable delays. All the research is in and the public is fully aware that the status quo is not an option.

The government needs to make pension reform a priority and the throne speech is the right place to tell Canadians that they will act immediately to protect our retirement security.” CARP recently conducted a series of surveys amongst its members and found that they would like to see a mandatory, national supplementary plan to augment the CPP. Eng is quick to point out that while any reforms enacted will do nothing to improve the lot of current CARP members, the members readily volunteer their advice nonetheless. Additionally, the size and scope of the organization should force policymakers to sit up and pay attention for demographic reasons alone, she says.

Related Stories No pension crisis, say Ministers The pension disconnect: does Canada really have a problem? “We have 350,000 members across the country,” explains Eng. “They are just the right kind of demographic to be sharing their views because they’re also the voter group that votes regularly. Not only are they experts on the very thing we’re talking about, they also happen to try and make it count when it comes to election time. Plus, they tend to be conservative-leaning, so it’s even more surprising that they’re arguing for change.” CARP is calling for a supplementary pension plan for those without workplace pensions and a national pension summit at which retirees have a material role.

© Benefits Canada

Keywords: pension reform