OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 31, 2012) - Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling on the Harper government to convene a national summit on pensions. With labour day just around the corner, Moist says it's time for federal government bring together a broad cross-section business, labour and academics to address that fact that 11 million Canadians are without a workplace pension.
"Retirement income insecurity is a national crisis," said Moist. We need a national summit on retirement security to look at real solutions to this problem. It is long overdue that all aspects of this critical public policy issue were discussed by all stakeholders."
CUPE is advocating for a more fair and equitable approach - a gradual doubling of Canada Pension Plan benefits that would provide a universal pension plan, at a decent retirement income level. This phased-in measure will eventually mean Canadians will receive 50 per cent of their pre-retirement income in CPP benefits, rather than the current insufficient 25 per cent.
Recently the CD Howe institute - usually onside with Conservative government policies - said the government's plan to move toward pooled registered pension plans won't work and called on the government to rethink its approach.
"The current trend by employers and some governments away from real pension plans and toward watered down savings plans offers little security in retirement and is not a pension at all," said Moist. There is a growing consensus that we need a new approach. We're eager to work with federal and provincial governments to strengthen public pensions to ensure that everyone can retire in dignity."
Moist says that even those with a workplace pension rely on CPP and there is really no such thing as "gold plated pensions" for most workers. For CUPE members for example, an average pension for a 30-year employee would be a modest $17,900 a year.
At the annual meeting of Canada's premiers, the Council of the Federation, the premiers agreed that there is a need to address the issue of retirement security. They agreed to direct their finance ministers to "present options for modest enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan to improve the existing system."
"Clearly there is a willingness among business, labour and political leaders to address this issue. What we need now is real leadership from our federal government," said Moist.