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CUPE’s PEI division president Milo Murray was one of 50 or so speakers to tell federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty that government must act to improve the pension situation for Canadians at an April 6 forum in Charlottetown.

All the speakers were unanimous that our pension system needs improvement,” says Murray.

It was the first of only three public consultations that the Harper government is holding on pension and retirement income issues across the country. News of the event was shared with the community only at the last minute.

Murray says he made the case for solutions to the pension crisis advanced by CUPE and the Canadian Labour Congress including:

  • doubling Canada Pension Plan benefits;
  • increases in Old Age Security and guaranteed income supplement payments to lift many retirees out of poverty; and
  • tougher laws to protect workplace pensions.

He also urged Flaherty to expand public hearings to at least one in every province. “Pensions are important for Canadians,” Murray told Flaherty. “Our concerns, issues and voices need to be heard because people deserve to retire with dignity and respect—not in poverty.”

Murray says Flaherty, who was joined on the panel by a local Conservative MP and the PEI finance minister, listened carefully and took notes, but asked no questions.

Three other CUPE members also made presentations including Lane MacLaren and Gordon Muncey from CUPE 805, and Leo Cheverie from CUPE 1870.