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It's Time to Work Together on Retirement Security!

July 3, 2015


As Canadians, we take great pride in our country and our way of life.  We value our institutions because they embody values such as fairness and equality.  Much of our identity is tied to the fact that we have universal health care, public education, old-age security and one of the best public pension plans in the world.  These institutions of fairness were created because our parents and grandparents demanded, and worked toward, a better nation for all.  

The last 30 years have shown us that things are changing in Canada and abroad.  Wealth is concentrating in the hands of the few, our cherished institutions are eroding, and the credo of “fairness for all” has increasingly been replaced with “you’re on your own” (YOYO).  

Ironically, it’s our parents and grandparents who are now suffering at the hands of YOYO economics.  The federal government has consistently refused to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) over the past decade despite support from the majority of Canadians.  Our seniors are beginning to fall through the cracks. Many are retiring while still in debt, and an increasing number are going bankrupt, and spending the golden years in poverty.   

The CPP was created to ensure that our senior citizens could retire with security and dignity.  However, the plan should have been expanded years ago to keep pace with economic reality.  The CPP was originally designed to provide retirement income along with income from a separate workplace pension and investments.  However, today more than 60% of Canadians do not have a workplace pension plan, over 50% have not opened a Tax-Free Savings Account, and unused RRSP contributions are predicted to grow to $1 trillion by 2018. Clearly, the YOYO philosophy is not working.

What will work, and what Canadians are supporting, is an expansion of the CPP.  One of the reasons the CPP is such a successful plan is because contributions are made by both workers and employers.  This is fairness, and this is how everyone works together to build a secure future for all.  The CPP is cost effective, and provides more Canadians with more retirement income than do other retirement vehicles.  It has lower administration costs and management fees than private plans, and provides a greater range of benefits.  The CPP is also portable, which means you are covered regardless of whether you change jobs or move to another province.  It is a defined benefit pension plan that provides virtually all working Canadians with a secure retirement income until death.  The plan is low risk, secure, and indexed to inflation. 

Let’s work together to bring back “fairness for all” and say goodbye to thinking that says “you’re on your own.”  Let’s ensure that the institutions our parents and grandparents created are not only maintained, but improved.  We owe it to them, to ourselves, and to our children.   

Debbie Bovyer,
President, UPSE