Budget Watch: Countdown to Throne Speech

Susan Eng, CARP’s VP of Advocacy will be in Ottawa this Wednesday and Thursday (March 3rd and 4th 2010) to attend the Throne Speech and the Budget lockup. CARP has called on the government to include pension reform in the Throne Speech and given the momentum the issue has gathered, it would be unwise to leave the issue out.

“Despite the federal government’s all-out effort to convince the provincial Finance Ministers at their Whitehorse meeting in December that Canada’s pension system did not need fixing, the provincial ministers apparently took better notice of the public discourse which has moved beyond whether there should be a supplementary savings vehicle to what shape it should take. We will be looking to the Throne Speech and the Federal Budget to see whether or not the government is listening to Canadians”, said Eng.

The NDP have been pushing an expansion of the Canadian Pension Plan and the Liberals propose a voluntary option managed by the CPP so that all Canadians can have access to better savings options. These options are consistent with but not identical to CARP’s proposed Universal Pension Plan – Click here to read our UPP paper. Insiders say Conservatives are finally feeling the pressure but might use the Provinces as an excuse to delay announcing a major undertaking.

“All the research is in and the public is fully aware that the status quo is not an option. The federal government needs to make pension reform a priority and the Throne Speech and in the Federal Budget. It would be the right forum to let Canadians know that they will act immediately to protect our retirement security”, added Eng.

Another matter of interest to us is whether there will be follow through on the Parliamentary Motion to improve retirement security, including a substantial increase to OAS and GIS. Last July CARP members sent 6,000 e-mails urging MPs to vote for the motion and the vote to support it was passed unanimously. Only now, for the record, this year’s increase [announced in December] to OAS and GIS is exactly zero. And there has been no relief offered to the thousands marching on Parliament Hill demanding action to protect their pensions in a bankruptcy. The NDP support increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement and according to their calculations, eradicating poverty among seniors would cost $1 billion dollars. The 2010-2011 budget is set to cost up to $244 billion. What, really, is an extra billion to eradicate poverty amongst seniors?

CARP’s pre-budget consultation submission emphasized the need for reform in all four pillars of Canada’s retirement income system including:

1) Pillars One and Two – increase public pensions to prevent poverty

2) Pillar Three – pension reform to rebalance the interests of employers and employees and to provide a universal pension plan for those without workplace pensions and;

3) Pillar Four – Support for Family Caregivers.

To read our full submission please click here