OTTAWA – The Canadian Labour Congress is calling for a national summit on the future of Canada’s retirement income system in the wake of the government’s stated intention to impose limits on Old Age Security (OAS), which is paid to everyone 65 years of age and older.
CLC President Ken Georgetti says that the Prime Minister did not campaign in the last election on changing public pensions but he now says the government will raise the age at which Canadians receive OAS benefits. “The government’s approach is piecemeal and that leaves people confused and frightened. It is high time that the Prime Minister consulted with Canadians on the whole retirement security package.”
Georgetti says that raising the age of eligibility for OAS would punish poorer seniors who also qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). He says that OAS changes would also mean a downloading of costs to provincial governments, who would have to assist poor seniors out of social assistance budgets.
But Georgetti says the retirement security problem goes beyond the OAS, as important as it is. “The real problem is that most Canadians will lack the income to live in dignity in retirement because 60 per cent of them don’t have a workplace pension plan. We have offered a credible and affordable proposal for an improved Canada Pension Plan which would mean that in future no senior will retire into poverty.”
Georgetti adds that the government has chosen instead to promote another RRSP-style scheme called Pooled Registered Pension Plans, which will benefit banks, mutual fund and insurance companies more than they will help Canadians save for retirement.
“We believe that a summit of all major stakeholders, that discusses all aspects of retirement security, including the realities of working people today, is the way to go. No one wants to see Canadians retiring into poverty like they did decades ago. Prime Minister Harper’s piecemeal approach to our system of public pensions risks returning us to those days”
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Website: www.canadianlabour.ca. Follow us on Twitter: @CanadianLabour