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Pension inequality ignored during federal election campaign

Pension inequality ignored during federal election campaign

October 15, 2015

Finger on the scaleThis federal election has done a miserable job addressing the unfairness of those planning for retirement. The inequality of pensions in Canada is a disgrace.

The co-authors of Pensionize Your Nest Egg, Moshe Milevsky and Alexandra MacQueen gave some interesting statistics on pensions in Canada.

In summary our ‘home and native land’ does a superb job at providing pension benefits to the public sector: its government employees. By contrast, we pretty well ignore everybody else.

In our democracy citizens pay for government salaries. The government works for us. Government employees are eligible for strong pensions.

Those the government serve, namely us, by contrast have few, if any, pension benefits. How is that even remotely fair?

Uneven numbers

Eighty-six per cent of public sector workers are enrolled in a registered pension plan. That 2012 number is unchanged since 2002.

By contrast only 24 per cent of private sector workers are covered by a pension plan. That is a decline from 27 per cent in 2002.

Pension InequalityFor every three and a half government workers who enjoy a pension we have just one private sector worker with the same pension advantage.

Welcome to our unfair world of “haves” and “have-nots.” My opinion is it is time to rectify this injustice.

Standardize pensions

My suggestion is select one of the most generous government pension plans and offer it to all Canadians. If these pension benefits are good enough for some why shouldn’t those benefits be distributed equally to all?

Members of Parliament and the Senate should be eligible for the same standard pension. No more sweetheart deals for the special few in power that take care of themselves while ignoring everyone else.

The self-serving attitude that has tainted government decision makers should end. We preach equality and now it’s time to practice what we preach.

After we standardize all pension benefits it is likely some salaries will be adjusted upwards or downwards. That would be due to normal labour market pressures.

As for the argument that government employee salaries reflect their pension benefits by being paid less than a private sector worker with no pension …I disagree.

My comments are in no way intended to belittle the effort that public sector employees put into their work. Whether you are a hospital worker, teacher or a member of our armed forces you have a very important job.

All Canadians depend on public sector workers. That is not the issue.

Maintaining a ‘just’ society

My issue is to standardize pension benefits and make all Canadians eligible, which is a much better way to maintain our “just society” that is intended to be equal and fair to all.

To help illustrate the logic of this reformed pension plan consider the cardinal rule of a ship captain. He holds ultimate responsibility for his ship and the safety of everyone on board. He will be the last to leave a sinking vessel because he is there to serve and protect the passengers and crew.

Our government workers should not be first in line for lucrative pensions. Unlike the ship’s captain they should not be last in line, but they should be equal to those they serve.

We have an unfair pension system in Canada and most private sector workers are disadvantaged when preparing for their retirement. Our politicians did nothing to address pension inequality during the long election process and that is a shame.