Time and time again, CARP members refer to their financial security as a leading concern, often prioritizing over health concerns. For good reason.
Most older Canadians have fixed incomes but face rising costs, growing inflation, an unpredictable economy and retirement savings that suffer as a result.
Here are the ways CARP fights for your financial security.
CARP was instrumental in establishing the CPP Investment Board in 1997. The establishment of CPP Investments ensures investment decisions are made at arm’s length from governments, while maintaining strong public sector accountability to the federal and provincial finance ministers who serve as stewards.
CARP fought for the right to split pension income between spouses. By splitting pensions with a lower income spouse/partner, the higher income earner is dropped into a lower tax bracket thus reducing a couple’s overall taxes. This saved seniors in Canada billions in tax dollars. CARP continues to protect this win.
Super-Priority Status in Private Sector Pensions
CARP has been advocating for over 10 years on behalf of the 4.6 million Canadian seniors and their families who rely on private sector, single-employer, defined benefit pensions for their financial security in retirement. CARP and allies insist that pensioners should be among the first creditors to be paid in the event that a company becomes insolvent or declares bankruptcy. CARP’s advocacy is nearing the finish line with this issue.
Many older Canadians rely on fixed incomes. Their investments can be key in carrying them through their retirement. Unfortunately, the investment industry, in whom consumers and investors place their trust, has significant gaps in protection.
Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments
Without an independent financial ombudsman service, customer complaints related to banking and investment are not handled consistently and compensation orders are not always upheld. After over 11 years of advocacy, this is another priority that is nearing the finish line. CARP is currently working hard to ensure a robust and impartial governance structure within the OBSI, as well as the integration of a seniors’ perspective.
Fighting Gag Orders
Currently in Canada, when an investor has a valid complaint, it is legal for banks or investment dealers to demand that clients sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) as part of the resolution. NDAs are legally binding contracts that stop you from sharing key information with anyone, even family or therapists. CARP and consumer advocates see gag orders as a legally sanctioned way of preventing harmed (and often vulnerable) clients from telling others about their experiences, protecting the reputation of the investor or company at the expense of the person who unfairly lost money.
Removing mandatory withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs)
CARP has been successful in seeing the mandatory amounts for withdrawal lowered. CARP continues its fight against mandatory withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF)s for those who have saved with Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP)s, and see their registered accounts converted to income funds that require annual, taxable distributions.
Adequate Financial Support
The government provides an Old Age Security (OAS) program which includes the OAS pension and guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). CARP pushes the government to invest further in these programs to ensure financially vulnerable older Canadians are in fact supported adequately.
Ensuring an Accurate Consumer Price Index
The Government of Canada uses what is called a Consumer Price Index (CPI) to measure inflation. The CPI measures price change by comparing, through time, the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services. The CPI is based on a fixed basket of goods and services, which represents the average Canadian household’s spending habits. From here, governments use the data to adjust income taxes and social benefits such as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. CARP argues that the basket of goods and services does not adequately reflect the spending realities of seniors. CARP wants to see a more accurate CPI for seniors.
Increased Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for Lowest Income Seniors
CARP recently won an $1000 annual increase in the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) for lowest income seniors in Ontario (when combined with the OAS increase for people 75+).
Increase in OAS, Federal Security Benefit
The amount increased in 2021 for those over 75. However, seniors 65-75 did not benefit. CARP continues to advocate for financial security for all seniors.
CARP Redressed the Negative Impact of CERB Eligibility for Seniors Receiving GIS
The receipt of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), intended as support during COVID, resulted in an estimated 185,000 financially vulnerable older Canadians being unable to access their Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). In some cases, the unexpected lack of funds from the GIS had calamitous results for those struggling to pay rent, afford medication or put food on the table. CARP worked strenuously to ensure the government compensated impacted individuals. $7424 million was paid by the government to alleviate the financial hardship caused by this oversight.
Ending of mandatory retirement at age 65
CARP fights against age discrimination, which may be one of the last acceptable forms of discrimination still found in our society.
- The removal of mandatory retirement was a landmark change for which CARP long lobbied.Today, retirement is offered at 65 plus, with those who want to, or need to work, staying productive in the workforce to the greater benefit of the economy and society.