At noon on Thursday, about 500 delegates attending the biennial CUPE-Quebec convention gathered outside the National Assembly to call for the improvement of public pensions. They demonstrated for 45 minutes in support of the FTQ’s retirement campaign, Une retraite à l’abri des soucis! Given that approximately one of every two elderly persons in Quebec lives in poverty, the campaign advocates primarily an increase in contributions to the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) in order to double the pension. The pension would increase gradually to cover from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of the average business income.
The demonstrators increased the pressure on the Government of Quebec in advance of the meeting of Finance Ministers of Canada on June 15. Increasing the QPP in Quebec and the CPP in Canada requires the assent of two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the population. Only three provinces have not yet accepted: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec. The demonstration shone a spotlight on the Charest government’s itinerary regarding this issue.
Four trade union leaders addressed the demonstrators: Lucie Levasseur, President of CUPE-Québec; Paul Moist, National President of CUPE; Claude Généreux, National Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE; and Michel Arsenault, President of the FTQ. Danis Prud’homme, Director General of the FADOQ Network, spoke as well.
“Poverty among seniors in Quebec is a scandal and it has to change – starting now! The only real solution is to improve the public pension plans,” said the union leaders. “Improving the QPP and the CPP is good for both union members and non-members. It unites us, while some would rather divide us. It’s also a winning proposition because the public pension plans are the most effective. The economic arguments are on our side.”
“Seven Canadian premiers are already in support of reform. But Jean Charest is still attached to the interests of banks and finance. Together, we can pry him loose. We’re counting on you,” they said to the demonstrators.
“For the FADOQ Network, it is time to develop a concerted, intergenerational, inclusive approach to ensure greater financial security in retirement and a better future for all,” said Danis Prud’homme, Director General of FADOQ, who came to support the demonstrators.
This week, delegations from 505 affiliated local unions are meeting from May 10 to 13 for the 27th biennial convention of CUPE-Quebec. The theme of the event, held at the Quebec City Convention Centre, is “A Presence on Every Forum”.
With nearly 105,000 members in Quebec, the Canadian Union of Public Employees is present in several sectors, including health and social services, education, universities, municipalities, energy, urban and air transport, communications, and Quebec government corporations and public agencies. It is also the largest affiliate of the FTQ.
The FADOQ Network is composed of affiliated organizations. Its mission is to bring together people 50 and older and represent them before bodies that need to recognize their rights and needs. It also has a mission to organize activities and provide programs and services that meet their needs. With over 260,000 members, the FADOQ Network is the largest organization of seniors in Canada.