Women and persons with disabilities will face a significant and unfair disadvantage under proposed changes to the Canada Pension Plan. CUPE Newfoundland Labrador is urging the federal government to address troubling gaps in legislation to expand the CPP that will harm workers already vulnerable to post-retirement poverty.

“Women and persons with disabilities are far more reliant on public pensions. It is deeply troubling that the Liberal federal government is abandoning these already vulnerable workers in the urgently needed expansion of the CPP,” says Wayne Lucas, CUPE NL president.

Under legislation reforming the CPP, Bill C-26, special provisions for workers with child raising responsibilities and persons with disabilities that ensure they receive equitable retirement benefits have been excluded from the expanded portion of the CPP, even though they’ve existed for decades in the current CPP.

“According to StatsCan, the average CPP income for men 65+ years of age in this province is $7,100, but it’s only $5,100 for women of the same age. This gap would be even bigger if the child-rearing drop out was not present in CPP,” says Lucas.

The “child rearing drop out” ensures that parents are not penalized under the CPP for time out of the workforce to raise children. While available to any parent, this “drop out” provision is used mostly by women.

Similarly, the “disability drop out” ensures persons with disabilities are not penalized for time they are unable to work due to their disabilities and collecting CPP Disability benefits.

As Bill C-26 currently stands, these “drop out” periods will not be included in the CPP expansion, penalizing women and persons with disabilities, even though they’ve existed in the current CPP for decades.

“On behalf of the approximately 6,000 members of CUPE Newfoundland Labrador, I call on the federal government to push for amendments that protect women and workers with disabilities in retirement,” says Lucas.