OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 17, 2012) - At a meeting in Chelsea, Quebec, provincial finance ministers have made considerable steps towards agreeing on expanding the Canadian Pension Plan to improve coverage. The only thing standing in the way is the federal government.
"Retirement insecurity is a growing national crisis that demands national leadership," said Paul Moist, CUPE national president. "But instead of moving us forward, this government is chipping away at our retirement system.
"Now Flaherty is taking an unprecedented position on CPP expansion and demanding that all ten provinces reach consensus - a higher threshold than required to change the constitution."
The Canadian Pension Plan Act clearly states that changes to CPP only need a 2/3 majority representing 2/3 of the population to pass. With nine out of ten provinces saying they are open to expanding the CPP and the QPP, the requirements under the act are fulfilled. However Minister Flaherty has stated that the government will not move forward with CPP expansion unless every province is on board.
"Flaherty says the economy is too weak to boost the CPP, but that same argument was made in 1997 when contribution rates were last raised," said Moist. "After the 1997 contribution increase, Canada's unemployment rate declined steadily which is statistical evidence to counter Flaherty's assertion."
"The only thing standing in the way of expanding the CPP is the federal government's refusal to take action. This just adds to this government's track record of disrespecting seniors and failing Canadians when it comes to our retirement security," added Moist.
In last year's omnibus budget, the Conservatives increased the age of eligibility to access Old Age Security from 65 to 67 years of age. This policy will force many Canadians to work longer, and will disproportionally impact low income Canadians.
CUPE, along with many labour groups, seniors' organizations and provincial governments, supports an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan, and a return to OAS age of eligibility of 65.