CARP Federal Budget 2010 Analysis

At least the government cannot be accused of not keeping promises – since nothing of significance was promised.

The wordsmithing is a nice touch – so now we’re “Those Who Helped Build Canada”. Enjoy that because that’s all you got.

Let’s start with the promises made in the Throne Speech and see what action the budget documents produced

Throne Speech: promise made
“Our Government will also explore ways to better protect workers when their employers go bankrupt.”

Budget: Was Promise Kept?
No mention is made in the Budget documents of this promise. Word is that this line was slipped into the Throne Speech at the eleventh hour. Minister Clement who has the Nortel pensioners file may have serious clout in Cabinet – enough to get the promise into the Throne Speech anyway. Let’s hope we can expect concrete action before it’s too late for that group.

Throne Speech: promise made

“Superior health care and quality of life mean that Canadians now enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world. As more and more Canadians enter their golden years, our Government will seek to enhance their well-being during the retirement that they have earned. This demographic shift poses a challenge to the sustainability of our social programs and our economy. Our Government will meet the demands of the aging population.

Our Government has taken numerous measures to assure our senior citizens that Canada’s retirement income system is the strongest in the world. Among other measures, our Government has introduced Tax Free Savings Accounts and income splitting for Canada’s pensioners.

* To support seniors and those planning for retirement, our Government will continue to work with the provinces and territories on options to further strengthen Canada’s retirement income system.

* In recognition of the contributions seniors make to society, our Government will support legislation establishing Seniors Day.”

Budget: Was Promise Kept – NO – more words no action except promise of more consultations

Here’s what was in the Budget documents:

Standing Up for Those Who Helped Build Canada

Budget 2010 recognizes the significant efforts of those who have helped to build our country and make it strong. The budget recognizes the efforts of Canadian forces and veterans, invests in seniors and affirms the Government’s commitment to a strong and efficient retirement income system.

A Strong and Efficient Retirement Income System

A strong and efficient retirement income system provides Canadians with the confidence that their efforts to work and save will allow them to enjoy their retirement years.

The current government-supported retirement income system in Canada is recognized around the world by such organizations as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as a model that succeeds in reducing poverty among Canadian seniors and in providing high levels of replacement income to retired workers.

The Government, in collaboration with provinces and territories, is committed to maintaining a strong and efficient retirement income system to ensure that Canadians have the best available opportunities to save adequately and effectively for their retirement. In May 2009, the Minister of Finance, along with provincial and territorial Finance Ministers, launched a process to expand understanding of the issues. They received a report in December and are continuing their collaborative work, leading to a review of policy options at the next meeting of Finance Ministers in May 2010.

In preparation for the May meeting, the Government will undertake consultations with the public on the government-supported retirement income system, including the main issues in saving for retirement and approaches to ensuring the ongoing strength of the system. This process will be launched in March.

So what happened to our priorities?
CARP members asked for comprehensive pension reform and got nice words and the promise of more of the same.

No action on increasing OAS or GIS. No mention of mandatory retirement. The MP pensions were not touched but their salaries are frozen at about $157,000. We are reminded that previous budgets have provided pension income splitting but despite many entreaties, no accommodation is made for single people who cannot benefit from this. We are also reminded that the RRIF age was moved to age 71 but there’s no action on the moratorium on mandated RRIF withdrawals to help people who take steps to save for their own retirement.

At least there are no tax increases. As it was said in the Throne Speech: “Balancing the nation’s books will not come at the expense of pensioners.” Good thing – since we certainly didn’t ask for that!