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More than three quarters of western Canadians support increasing Canada Pension Plan benefits, according to a new national survey. Eighty percent also support increasing federal payments to senior citizens and four in ten believe the government is moving too slowly in reforming Canada’s pension system.

The Future of Pensions poll was completed by Environics Research Group in late August for the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.  The national poll surveyed 2,020 Canadians and has a margin of error of +/-2.2 per cent 19 times out of 20.  Responses from British Columbia have a margin of error of +/-6.2 per cent 19 times out of 20, and responses from the Prairies have a margin of error of +/-4.4 per cent 19 times out of 20.

From coast to coast, Canadians support higher CPP benefits,” said CUPE National president Paul Moist. “Western Canadians are sending a clear message to federal and provincial politicians who are currently studying ways to improve the CPP.”

The survey asked western Canadians their views on saving and their expectations for retirement. While many have set up a Retirement Savings Plan or a Tax-Free Savings Account, 35 per cent in British Columbia and 30 per cent on the Prairies acknowledge that they are not saving for retirement—mostly because they cannot afford to. 

Only one in four western Canadians is fully confident that they will be able to save enough to live comfortably in retirement, and three in ten believe they won’t have enough to live comfortably, with lower income being the most pessimistic.

Western Canadians are concerned with their capacity to retire in comfort,” said John Gordon, National President of PSAC. “If action is not taken now, poverty will become a dire reality for more and more elderly Canadians.”

Poll respondents also overwhelmingly support increasing Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplements for those living below the poverty line. OAS and GIS payments amount to only $11,000 per year.

The survey also asked respondents for their preference on different types of pension plans.  Despite the economic downturn, those currently part of workplace pension plans believe their pension benefits are safe. But more than 70 per cent prefer a defined benefit plan, which guarantees a fixed amount of benefit when you retire, to a defined contribution plan, where the benefits paid out depend on the performance of the investments in the fund.

Together, CUPE and PSAC represent more than 800,000 public sector workers across Canada.  Both organizations have been advocating for retirement security for all Canadians. 


For more information, please contact:

British Columbia
Barry O’Neill, president, CUPE BC 604-340-6768 (cell)
Patrick Bragg, PSAC Communications, 778-889-3486
Clay Suddaby, CUPE Communications 604-313-1138 (mobile)

Jeffrey Vallis, PSAC Communications, 204-391-3067
Lou Arab, CUPE Communications, 780-271-2722

Jeffrey Vallis, PSAC Communications, 204-391-3067
Tom Graham, president CUPE Saskatchewan, 306-229-8171

Jeffrey Vallis, PSAC Communications, 204-391-3067
Mike Skaftfeld, president CUPE Manitoba, 204-470-1313