Pension Reform Poll Analysis

January 13th 2010,

To view a full detailed analysis complete with colour charts, please click here.

The majority of CARP ActionOnline readers believe Canada’s pension system is in need of reform.

There is strong support, especially among those not yet retired, for a supplementary pension plan for workers without pensions and for the self-employed.

The majority reject the position of bankers’ and investors’ associations which say Canada doesn’t need another “one-size-fits-all” pension system.

When asked to select one of a series of solutions to protect people who have pensions, readers emphasize protection in the event of bankruptcy. When asked to suggest solutions for those without workplace pensions, half of the readers selected a “supplementary [pension] plan for self-employed/all.”

Members were generally unenthusiastic about the Government’s three-point plan for pension reform, including:

– Requiring a surplus before employers take “pension holidays”; – Allowing funds to maintain up to a 25% surplus and; – A prohibition for federally-regulated industries from leaving pensioners with shortfalls when they wind up their plans.

Members see these measures, with the exception of the last, as “nibbling around the edges” with little real effect.

Members express more enthusiasm about the Liberal three-point plan, Including:

– A voluntary Supplementary CPP for those without pensions and the self-employed; – Designating the CPP as a safe haven for failed pension funds; – Ensuring pensioners on long-term disability whose plans fail are first in line for repayment.

This plan is seen as much more comprehensive than the government’s, and, apart from a the divisive issue of saddling the CPP with failed funds, is it well-received.

When members were asked to compare the two plans, there was a narrow preference for the Opposition’s plan as the one that would likely solve the most problems.

Nonetheless, because of the built-in Conservative bias in our sample, respondents claim the Opposition’s plan is actually MORE likely to make them vote for the Government’s plan. Thus, although the government plan is seen to be flawed, partisan leanings appear to be more important in the final electoral choice.

More than half our respondents say they would vote for the Conservatives if an election were held tomorrow (54%), while about one quarter would vote Liberal (27%). About one tenth would vote NDP (12%) and half this proportion Green (7%).

Compared to nationally representative polls, the results shown here have the Conservatives higher and the NDP slightly lower than in the popular vote.

More than half of those respondents who aren’t already retired would sign up for a Supplementary Pension Plan, and even a significant minority of the retired members would enroll. Two thirds agree that a doubling of pension contributions to 6% of income in total would be appropriate to doubling benefits. Most readers believe this plan should be national, rather than provincial in scope. It is widely agreed that everyone should be able to contribute.

Members are split on whether the plan should be voluntary, or mandatory (with or without an opt-out provision). Members do not think the government should subsidize low-income contributions to this plan, but there is agreement employers should be required to contribute and that they should receive tax credits for doing so. There is wide agreement that this plan’s benefits should be predictable either by being a defined benefit plan or modeled on the CPP rather than being a defined
contribution plan.

Keywords: pension reform