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We are experiencing a national pension crisis,” CUPE National President Paul Moist told a crowd over breakfast in Saskatoon this week. Over 200 members had gathered in the city for CUPE Saskatchewan’s division convention.

All Canadians should have the right to a decent, secure income in their retirement. But across the country, more and more Canadians are concerned that they won’t have enough in retirement.”

Moist says there are several factors that will change the retirement landscape for this generation and the next. A wave of baby boom retirees will add strain to Canada’s retirement system, and the economic downturn has devastated many Canadians’ retirement savings. Meanwhile, some companies are exiting pension plans altogether, or moving to inferior plans.

Approximately 70 per cent of CUPE members are covered. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that 100 per cent of our members have decent pension plans. And that those who have good plans keep them.”

Moist says the best way to fix Canada’s pension crisis is by strengthening the Canada Pension Plan. “A doubling of the CPP would provide up to 50 per cent of the average wage, and would offer secure and enhanced pension benefits for the 93 per cent of Canadians who make CPP contributions. We can also enact better legislation to protect existing workplace pension plans from bankruptcy, high-risk investments and underfunding from employers.”

Retirement security is not just a public sector issue or a union issue. Only 35 per cent of Canadian workers have a workplace pension plan. And only one in five private sector workers are covered. Governments, unions and employers must work together to ensure that more Canadians are able to retire with dignity.”

As part of a CUPE’s national campaign on pensions, Moist will be meeting with members, media, politicians and interest groups across the country to raise awareness about Canada’s looming pension crisis, and to work together to find solutions.

All stakeholders need to work together to ensure that more Canadians have access to a decent, secure retirement.”