Pension Reform Poll Analysis

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The majority of CARP members think Canada’s pension system is broken, most think it needs fixing “very urgently” and the vast majority think CARP’s proposed Universal Pension Plan is the fix it needs.

The vast majority of CARP members support the organization’s call for a Universal Pension Plan, modeled on, but not part of the CPP. They agree this plan should be mandatory, with no opt-outs, and they suggest it will work because it is fair to all Canadians and all working Canadians would be covered. A voluntary plan is rejected because not enough people will participate to create critical mass, and because Canadians do not save enough in their RRSPs as it is.

If the Liberal opposition campaigned on such a program of pension reform and the government did not, they would attract a plurality of voters, and have an opportunity to form a majority government, despite the traditional Conservative bias shown among the subset of CARP members who respond regularly to the polls.

The majority of CARP members believe Canada’s pension system is in need of “major reforms” or a “complete overhaul”, and close to half believe this reform needs to occur “very” or “extremely” urgently. However, members agree overwhelmingly that this reform must be lead by the government, not the private sector.

When asked to select among the most commonly-mentioned solutions for Canada’s pension crisis, members opt for the most obvious solution, which is to increase CPP contributions and benefits, followed by those who want to see a universally available supplementary pension plan, whether voluntary or mandatory.

Members say Canadians cannot save enough for retirement because they cannot afford to, followed by those who suggest Canadians do not plan far enough ahead. They also think politicians are slow on pension reform because they can’t make decisions which extend 20 to 30 years into the future, especially as election cycles are 4 or 5 years and because their own rich pensions insulate them from the problems of ordinary Canadians.

Close to half our members say they could save or could have saved more than the federally allowed 18% of earnings in tax sheltered instruments. When asked how to deal with pension reform for low income Canadians, most members agree that the OAS and GIS should be significantly increased.

Electorally, the Conservative party is favoured, but by lower margins than we have seen since January, 2010. The wide majority of members are retired, most on public sector pensions.

Keywords: pension reform