Edmonton - A campaign for REAL pension reform was launched in Alberta today to persuade the provincial government to change its mind and join the growing consensus around expanding the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
"A crisis in retirement income is looming in Canada and it will not spare Albertans, despite claims made by Finance Minister Ted Morton," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which launched the campaign with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
Federal Conservatives including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty support expanding CPP. They are joined by nine provinces, seniors groups, student groups, economists and labour groups in the consensus forming around CPP expansion. With such widespread support, there's hope a ground-breaking agreement can be reached when Canada's finance ministers gather in Kananaskis next month.
"Alberta, however, is acting as a spoiler and standing in the way of real reform," says McGowan. "The only other dissenting voices are coming from banks and insurance companies who want to keep charging outrageous fees for their under-performing retirement planning services."
A poll released today (click here for poll results) by the AFL shows that Morton is out of step with Albertans when he claims they don't want or need CPP expansion - and that any reform should be left to private industry:
- 78 per cent don't buy his claim that Albertans have already made adequate arrangements for their retirement;
- 67 per cent don't buy the argument that banks and insurance companies should be chosen over CPP to run an expanded pension system; and
- 71 per cent say Morton and the Alberta government should get out of the way and allow changes to CPP.
The AFL also released a report by economist Hugh MacKenzie that shows Albertans need pension reform more than other Canadians. Titled It IS Broke - So Fix It!, the report finds that:
- Albertans are less likely to be covered by an employer pension plan;
- Albertans with pension coverage are likely to have inferior coverage compared to other Canadians, with only 11 per cent having a defined-benefit plan; and
- Only 38 per cent of Albertans contributed to an RRSP in 2008, and the median contribution was only $3,200 per year.
As part of the campaign, the AFL also launched a website to focus attention on the issue. On the site can be found information, documents and links dealing with issues of retirement insecurity and pension reform.
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Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)