CCPA says pension system needs urgent attention | National Union of Public and General Employees

CCPA says pension system needs urgent attention

'Only 38% of paid workers have workplace pensions.'- Monica Townson.

Ottawa (9 Oct. 2009) - Canada’s pension system needs urgent attention, says a new report – What can we do about pensions? – by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Prepared by CCPA research associate and pension expert Monica Townson, the report outlines some of the problems with Canada’s pension system and examines some of the options that have been proposed to deal with them.

“Public pension programs such as Old Age Security (OAS) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) provide only a modest income for people when they retire,” says Townson.

“Only 38% of paid workers have workplace pensions. Everyone else must rely on public pension programs supplemented by their own savings but only a small minority of Canadians (31% of those eligible to contribute) take advantage of tax-assisted private savings through RRSPs. Almost $500 billion in unused RRSP contribution room is being carried forward,” Townson notes.

The report notes that, while attention has focused on the problems with workplace pension plans, pension reforms must take into account all three tiers of the retirement income system. Some changes could be implemented quickly while others might be phased in over a period of time.

Among the proposals now on the table are increases in the basic guarantee of OAS and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), expansion of the CPP and some kind of supplemental plan that might be administered centrally by governments to supplement the CPP.

“There is no ‘magic bullet’ that will fix everything,” Townson says. “But it’s important that we consider what can be done and that we actually start doing it.”

This is the first in a series of reports on pension reform that will be released by the CCPA in the coming weeks.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
What can we do about pensions? - 147kb - pdf