Michael Ignatieff announces Liberal plan to strengthen public pensions and support seniors

Editor’s Note: the Liberal Party of Canada has just issued the following press release, more information is available through their website.

March 30, 2011: VANCOUVER – A Liberal government will help Canadian families save for retirement with new measures to enhance our public pension system, including increased support for seniors and a new, voluntary Secure Retirement Option for Canadians without access to a pension plan, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced today.

“Canadians who work their whole lives to provide for their families deserve a secure retirement with pensions they can count on,” said Mr. Ignatieff, who made the announcement today alongside Vancouver Kingsway Liberal Candidate Wendy Yuan at a local small business – The Medicine Shoppe – whose employees currently do not have access to a pension plan.

“Stephen Harper chose to abandon the CPP and let five years pass by without delivering serious, much-needed pension reform,” he added. “Now, while he’s looking at complicated, higher-risk and higher-cost private options, Liberals are standing behind our trusted Canada Pension Plan to give families a reliable, simple and low-cost way to save.”

As part of our plan, a Liberal government will work with the provinces and territories to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) with:

* A gradual expansion of the benefits provided by the CPP; and
* A new Secure Retirement Option that will offer Canadians a simple, voluntary, tax-deductible savings option backed by the trusted, publicly-run CPP.

A Liberal government will also provide a $700-million annual boost to the Guaranteed Income Supplement to reduce poverty among seniors, especially women and seniors with disabilities.

To help workers left out in the cold when their employer goes bankrupt, Mr. Ignatieff also committed to greater protection for those collecting long-term disability benefits, and to create a Stranded Pension Agency to give Canadians a new and safe option to manage their private pensions after corporate bankruptcies.
“Fewer and fewer Canadians have access to a high-quality, employer-sponsored pension plan,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “The Harper approach may be welcome news for the banks and insurance companies on Bay Street, but a private option on its own fails to meet the needs of Canadian families.
“Enhancing the CPP provides enormous advantages to both employers and employees as it avoids the risk, complexity and hidden management fees that too often drain retirement savings from private financial sector plans,” he said.
Canadians aren’t saving enough for retirement, and three-quarters of Canadians in the private sector have no registered pension plan. The Harper Conservatives backed away from strengthening the CPP, after spending months talking about it. Instead, they have advanced a private sector option that offers little more than RRSPs already offer.

“We can strengthen families – without raising your taxes or making Canadians wait another five years – if we stop the Conservatives’ corporate giveaways and the billions they’re wasting on jets and jails. Now’s the time to focus on what really matters: giving every Canadian the tools to succeed in the years ahead.”