Progress made on pension security

Even with all the hoopla surrounding other stories in Ottawa, a lot of hard work has been taking place on the most pressing issues facing our families.
One of those issues is pension security, and last week I was proud to take part in the first hour of debate on my private member’s bill (C-501).
Bill C-501, if passed, will secure the pensions of all Canadians whose employers have undertaken restructuring, entered bankruptcy protection, or have collapsed entirely and had their assets sold off.
I brought this bill forward because of the situation at AbitibiBowater, where tens of thousands of pensions were faced with a loss of between 27 and 40 percent, and will ensure that the pensions of more than four million Canadians will be there when they need them.
During its first hour of debate, it became clear there is widespread support—across party lines—for Bill C-501 and this has given me hope it will advance quickly through the legislative process.
The vast majority of people I have spoken with about Bill C-501 have been very supportive and are happy to see it move forward.
But some of those supportive words have been followed by a question: “I don’t have a workplace pension; what about me?”
It’s true that Bill C-501 is not a silver bullet when it comes to our pension problems in Canada, but it is one piece of a larger plan that New Democrats have put forward for ensuring all Canadians have pension security.
Since a majority of Canadians do not have a workplace pension, New Democrats want to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and other retirement support programs.
We believe the CPP is the most effective tool at our disposal in the fight against the pension crisis sweeping the country. It is a national, pan-Canadian vehicle, already in place, portable, risk-free, indexed, publicly and cheaply administered, with predictable defined benefits.
No other plan provides the same advantages at so little cost.
Back in October, New Democrats called for a doubling of the CPP benefit upon retirement. Our proposed change would mean the top monthly benefit for the CPP of $908 would increase to $1,816, which we believe is a more suitable retirement income for each Canadian.
However, we all know that nothing in life is free, so the doubling of the CPP benefit will require an additional payroll deduction of about 2.5 percent.
This proposed increase is not an insignificant amount, but it will double our CPP benefits when we retire—and is less than the administration fees charged on most RRSPs.
By securing private pension plans in the case of restructuring or bankruptcy through Bill C-501, and our proposal to improve coverage under the CPP, I think New Democrats are putting forward an affordable plan that will secure a dignified retirement for all Canadians.

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