CUPE National President Paul Moist is urging Canada’s premiers to keep pension reform front and centre as they gather in Winnipeg for the Council of the Federation meeting, starting tomorrow.
“Over the last six months, we have seen positive movement on the pension reform issue,” says Moist. “What we need now is buy-in from the provinces, and a commitment to improve pensions for the millions of Canadians who aren’t saving enough for retirement.”
Following a meeting of Canada’s finance ministers in June, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the ministers had reached “consensus” to consider a “modest, phased-in and fully-funded enhancement to defined benefits under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).”
However, an amendment to the CPP will require the support of at least two thirds of the provincial legislative assemblies representing not less than two thirds of the population.
“In terms of social policy, Canada is at a ‘medicare moment’ not unlike 40 years ago, when as a country we decided that all Canadians deserve universal health care,” says Moist. “This time, we have a golden opportunity to help this generation and the next retire with dignity.”
“It’s an idea whose time has come. Two thirds of Canadian households cannot save enough for retirement. Over 11 million Canadians do not have a workplace pension plan. More and more seniors are working low-wage jobs to make ends meet. And to those who can afford them, RRSPs have proven their volatility amidst a turbulent economy.”
The CPP is the safest, most secure retirement income available. At present, the average Canadian retiree receives $502.05 per month in CPP earnings. Given that the CPP is, for many, the only retirement income option, CUPE is asking for a phased-in doubling of the benefits funded by a moderate increase in employer/employee premiums.
“A phased-in doubling of CPP is a modest increase that would provide secure, fully portable, universal coverage to all workers in all industries,” says Moist.
In addition to pension reform, CUPE is calling on the premiers and territorial leaders to address a number of pressing issues at this year’s meeting. Key areas include funding for public health care; the removal of hard caps on the Equalization program; implications of trade negotiations with Europe; Canada’s water treatment infrastructure; and the protection of Canada’s long-form census.
- Read Paul Moist’s letters to Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders