Pension Reform and the Federal Election 2011

On April’s Fools day there was a skit on CBC radio with Mary Walsh (actress, comedian and social activist) as the host who announced the formation of a new political party. Venerable and well-known Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent had the task of announcing the formation this new political party for seniors … the Sage Party! As the leader of this ’Sage Party’ Gordon Pinsent explained that this party intended to give a ‘voice to seniors’ as this growing segment of the population, our seniors, are not being served properly. Although this was merely a spoof created especially for our entertainment on April Fools Day there was an oblique message that seniors should become politically active. In the spoof Gordon Pinsent extolled the ‘wisdom of elders’ and noted that although seniors are becoming a ‘huge voting block’ most of the issues that matter to them are not addressed seriously. Hence the creating of this new political party specifically for seniors.

Of course this was just a parody created especially for April Fools day but the underlying message a viewer got was that seniors’ issues and concerns should be central to the current political debate. For those of you who missed the airing of the spoof you may check this link for the podcast:

While there was much light-hearted banter in this spoof it underscored the fact our politicians need to focus more on seniors’ issues and pension reform. A substantial number in this demographic, especially those without adequate pension incomes, will face significant challenges due to inflation and cost of living increases. Many retirees in this group were unable to purchase a significant amount of RRSPs due to their low earnings during their working lives. They are uncertain as to whether the various election promises on pension reforms will be adequate or sustainable. It is time for politicians to come clean and provide more details on how they plan to keep and fund their promises. The pension reform issue, along with major concerns about adequate health care and housing, are all important issues for this segment of the population that may well motivate and encourage them to go cast their vote.

The platform and promises of the various parties are largely identical. The differences are found in how to achieve what is being promised. Regrettably, but not surprising, information is not forthcoming on how to find the funding needed to realize these promises. This link provides a comparison of how the platforms of the major political parties stack up on ‘retirement security’:
(Refer to the links at the end for detailed information on where the political parties stand on various issues.)

As the election campaign is picking up steam our leaders are earnestly selling their plans for existing pensions and also future plans to ensure that future retirees will have pensions on which they can survive. More than ever pensioners on modest incomes are struggling to deal with increased cost of living as that impacts what their monthly ‘basket of goods’ will or will not include. While pensioners are concerned about what our politicians plan to do with CPP, OAS and GIS benefit many are very tuned into challenges faced by all Canadians in this uncertain economy.

We have a lot of shortcomings socially, culturally and economically that need to be addressed by whichever political party is in power. For example, there are challenges such as increased poverty levels, child care needs, homelessness and lack of affordable housing, women’s issues, First Nations issues, health care challenges, relief to caregivers of elders, a shrinking workforce, the environment…. and the list goes on. Yet we also recall that at the height of the recession generous bailouts were readily given to the very sectors of society that created the financial crisis in the first place, i.e. large corporations and the financial industry. Ordinary working people were not given similar consideration.

Pensioners and those about to retire need to become more engaged and better acquainted with the pension reforms being promoted by politicians. As a matter of fact we would be remiss if we don’t include younger workers in this conversation about pension reforms since many don’t have pension plans in place at their workplace. Think carefully about what all politicians are trying to sell with regard to pension reform.

Let us remind our politicians that they must look beyond the wishes or demands of the political lobbyists and corporate elites and instead develop policies to ensure all Canadians can look forward to retire with dignity and not see it as a ticket to the land of poverty!


About Golden Wave Movement Canada

The Golden Wave Movement is a made up of engaged individuals who have serious concerns about the increasing challenges retirees surviving on modest pension incomes face nowadays. While our main purpose is to raise awareness of the financial difficulties faced by this vulnerable group of citizens, we also intend to raise awareness regarding challenges related to their physical, emotional and psychological well-being and how to enjoy their golden years.
This entry was posted in Basket of goods, Canada Pension Plan, CPP, Elections Canada, Federal Election 2011, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Gilles Duceppe, GIS, Guaranteed Income Supplement, Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff, OAS, Old Age Security, Pension Reform, Seniors demographic, Stephen Harper and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Pension Reform and the Federal Election 2011

  1. Allan says:

    Promises, promises! Harper is promising this, Iggy is promising that, and Jack is promising something else ! Don’t’ know yet what Duceppe or Ms. May have to say. All they want is your vote. Those debates will be more grandstanding and are probably a waste of our time. More promises and no plan in place how to pay for all being promised. What we pensioners want is really very simple. We want a little bit more so we can get by on a daily basis to cope with cost of living increases. How are these politicians going to pay for all these promises? Rest assured they will take it from beleaguered taxpayers or these promises will be shoved to the wayside!


  2. Patricia says:

    And what about the millions being spent on F35 fighter jets? What do we need them for? Seems that fighter jets are obviously a much higher priority for Harper than providing reasonable pension benefits. Why is Canada taking directions from warmongers and hawks? This is certainly not the Canada I used to know….. my, my, my things has changed so much. The “Harper govt.” has been giving lucrative untendered contracts to military supply companies. These companies have made hefty profits from that sale during a difficult recession. Has an unpleasant whiff of nepotism. So many Canadians are living in poverty. Shame on you Ottawa! Those corporate types are getting all the tax breaks supposedly to help with job creation but how many jobs do they actually create? We seniors are a huge voting bloc and will continue to be expand in numbers. Hope they have plans in place to deal with that crunch.


  3. Lyn says:

    All the parties have to make it abundantly clear that much needed changes to pension benefits will be put in place… especially the low income pensioners who depend on GIS. In order to achieve that they have to stop using language that befuddles our minds and instead speak in plain simply terms. That is, what they are going to do and exactly how they will pay for what they are promising.


  4. Paul says:

    I was also fortunate to hear that amusing skit on CBC and enjoyed it. Gordon Pinsent sounded very convincing and for a few minutes I believed a group of seniors had actually created a Sage Party. I was excited and wanted to join them but I had to chuckle when I realized I was being ‘taken’. To get back to reality.. are all these promises by the parties going to result in much needed changes to pension benefits for pensioners, especially low income pensioners who depend on GIS? Living in poverty when I retire is definitely NOT ON MY BUCKET LIST!!!


  5. Lawrence says:

    Regardless of exuberant claims by Flaherty that the Conservatives help us get through the recession better than other developed countries he should be grateful that Paul Martin left a budget surplus that helped pay down the national debt. Because of that Canada was able to survive the worst recession in recent memory better than other developed countries. We had a succession of minority governments and being keenly aware there could be an election in the works Mr. Flaherty had “consultations” on pensions around the country. The result was a minor fiddling with CPP which as far as I am concerned is to appease the growing seniors demographic which as we all know is becoming a huge voting block. All that Harper and his conservatives care about are corporate people, those in the upper echelons, westerners and definitely not the rest of Canada. Almost forgot … the “gun registry” people – why on earth is that an issue in this election if not to garner votes from rural areas?


  6. Madge says:

    Yet another election. Maybe this particular election might be a defining moment in Canadian history but for who? I retired this year am surviving on a not too generous pension and would certainly be grateful for even a slight increase in my GIS benefit. I can’t believe that so many people can’t be bothered to vote. Harper won’t getting my vote as he is a control freak, is too autocratic and is polarizing the citizens across the country.


  7. Gabriela says:

    The definining traits of the Harper government has been hidden agendas, unparalleled arrogance, so much misrepresentation, and minimum disclosure and distortion of facts related to major issues. While you will find some semblance of these traits in all political parties Harper has taken this repressive if not downright monocratic style of governing to a new low. Harper does not believe he is accountable to anyone. No wonder Stockwell Day and some of his other MPs are not running for re-election and returning to private lives. Mr. Harper, your pension reform promise is just that, a promise that won’t see the light of day if your government assumes power again. It won’t be by my vote – you won’t fool this senior.


  8. Jamal says:

    Given the current state of the economy and the dependence of part-time of contract work Ignatieff’s proposal would be a good deal for the millions who have no pension plan at their place of employment . The pension enhancement plan of Ignatieff appeals to me. However, implementing this will be costly to those currently in the workforce. Realistically an increase in contributions to RRSPs or FTSA by workers in this group might be the way but this must be matched by increased CPP benefits. However, workers have to earn a living wage to be able to afford RRSP or FTSA contributions.


  9. Irene says:

    It is not only fighter jets that taxpayer dollars are being wasted on. It gets much worse. Used submarines were purchased from the UK by Harper. These subs can’t be used with the torpedoes purchased from the US. Total waste of our tax dollars. These American build torpedoes had to be retrofitted at the cost of millions and millions of dollars in order to work with those second hand British subs. Didn’t any of those brainy people in Ottawa bother to confirm whether these torpedoes would work on the used old subs from the UK? This should be been verified prior to purchasing these torpedoes from the US! Clearly there is no due diligence in Ottawa. So many seniors and ordinary families just barely managing to survive are ignored by governments at all levels and Canada uses our tax dollars to purchase military hardware. Who on earth is advising Harper? Pity that we stopped being peacekeepers and joined the ranks of those despicable warmongers!


  10. Steven M. says:

    I guess most of us who are not enthused by Harper winning a majority are feeling a bit distracted as to what this significant event will bode for Canada and ordinary Canadians…especially low-income pensioners. What comes to mind with this clear philosophical split in the political landscape with ‘right’ vs ‘left’ is that there will be more hollowing out of the middle class. Unfortunately this will probably have the reverse effect and drive the middleclass more to the right-wing politics that ignore their basic concerns or interests. Harper will continue to cater to that small priviliged group of wealthy elite while the rest of us will continue struggling to survive in a difficult economy that we did not create. The conservatives have been co-opted by the corporate powers hence will serve corporate interests…. look at how the surplus we had has been used up to shore up corporate interests and not that of struggling pensioners or hard-working ordinary Canadians. The NDP which is now official opposition will not be able to do anything about this disparity…. maybe except have energetic shouting matches in parliament.


  11. Gerald K. says:

    Now that Stephen Harper has won his coveted majority I get the feeling that Canada will go the way of the US….. the middle class or what’s left of it will experience a massive hollowing out. Oddly enough it is a distressed and troubled middle that tends to vote ultra right-wing. Isn’t that what happened in Europe in the 1920’s and 30’s? We never seem to learn lessons of the past. But our elitist leaders pay close attention to these lessons of the past while ordinary citizens don’t and it is to their detriment. Despite the horrendous fraud by the investment houses and the bankers, not to mention the obscene bailouts, some citizens are too ready to shift the blame for the economic mess on the most vulnerable in society. Those who control Washington now control Ottawa!!! Now Canada is well on its way to bankruptcy. Jack Layton can try as he might but not much will change…… Harper has his majority!


  12. Myra says:

    Is there any recent information about the pension changes proposed by the Harper govt? Am very interested in how any of these changes are going to be implemented in this ongoing economic fiasco.


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