Pension Battle Enters Next Round

The federal government’s decision to proceed with expanding the Canada Pension Plan is a positive step, achieved mainly through the determined efforts of the labour movement over many years. But this is far from the final episode of a critical struggle for working people’s rights.

For one thing, as CUPE points out, while some business and financial sector figures who opposed expanding the CPP now support the need to grow the public, not-for-profit, pension system, they also want to keep any expansion of the CPP extremely narrow and limited. These forces include many Chambers of Commerce, financial industry lobby groups, and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, who argue that a “modest” CPP expansion should only apply to some middle-income workers, and not to low-income workers at all. They also want to compel higher-income earners to rely only upon for-profit private pensions.

These “carve-outs” would make it more complicated and costly to operate the CPP. Even worse, this approach would encourage employers to game the system by offering only lower-wage, lower-hours jobs, and to split full-time jobs into precarious part-time positions.

In other words, labour and its allies cannot sit back and celebrate this victory. A stronger fight against the retirement profiteers is needed, to stop the carve-outs, and to demand a much higher CPP for low-income people, so that all Canadian seniors can retire with dignity and a liveable income.

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