Last December at the biannual meeting of Canada’s finance ministers, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised that the proposal to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) would be on the agenda for a key finance ministers meeting in June.
Flaherty did not see fit to call an in person meeting. Instead he hosted a short video teleconference and a “photo op” on July 16, without any mention of the CPP in his official statement.
“Why aren’t finance ministers meeting for more substantial discussions on the pressing issues facing Canadians like retirement security and the economy?” asks Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “Action was promised, and now action has been delayed again.”
Improvements to the CPP have been put off since 2010 despite support from the majority of provinces.
“Refusing to have a face to face meeting is another delay tactic so that Minister Flaherty can avoid criticism from the many provinces that support CPP expansion,” said Moist.
“There is an opportunity right now to make a significant positive difference to the lives of tens of millions of Canadians by committing to expanding the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans,” added Moist. “Seventy-five per cent of Canadians support expanding the CPP. It is time for the federal government to stop delaying and to take action.”
While Canada’s economy has so far avoided a more severe downturn, growth averaging just over two per cent coming out of this recovery is far below the average growth following previous recessions. It is important for government to encourage measures to achieve stronger economic and employment growth as well as greater social equity without increasing deficits by increasing investments in public services – like CPP, education and health care.
“It’s time for the government to wake up to the realities of the current economic situation facing Canadians,” added Moist. “Fiscal austerity, spending cuts and the suppression of wages are absolutely the wrong economic policies to pursue to create jobs.”
Provincial leaders are meeting next week in Niagara on the Lake for the Council of the Federation meeting. This is another opportunity for provinces to continue to push for expanding CPP. CUPE will continue to ask premiers to take leadership on the issue at the Council of Federation meeting.