Today CUPE made an important submission on pensions to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI); the federal regulator who oversees pension plans. The submission highlights CUPE’s concerns that OSFI is quietly considering a major policy change that could open a back door for federally-regulated employers to walk away from pension promises they’ve already made to workers and retirees. OSFI claims that “there are no significant policy changes” in its rewrite of federal pension policy, but CUPE has reason to believe otherwise.
Recent Conservative and Liberal governments have considered changes to federal pension legislation that would legally permit employers to break their pension promises. The Harper government consulted on this very idea but did not have the opportunity to bring legislation forward. Before the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau said repeatedly that he was against this policy. But not long after winning power, the Liberals introduced controversial Bill C-27, legislation that would have given employers a green light to break pension promises. In response to a campaign from CUPE, the labour movement and seniors groups, the Liberals came to their senses and C-27 did not move forward.
CUPE is shocked to learn that the Liberal government may now be quietly trying to usher harmful elements of C-27 in through a back door. Instead of trying to pass legislation through our democratically-elected parliament, changes are now being pursued through a regulatory guidance document. Any major changes to pension policy deserve the full transparency and democratic legitimacy of the parliamentary process.
Despite the public backlash to C-27, the Liberals have yet to state their political position on this issue in the election campaign. The Conservatives and the Greens are similarly quiet with no mention of it in their platforms. Only New Democrats remain steadfast in their support for workers and have explicitly promised to protect workers pensions by resisting C-27-style attacks on workers and retirees.
CUPE will continue to support the NDP and fight back against all attacks on workers’ and retirees’ pensions.