Community Forums Highlight Need for Pension Reform

February 25, 2010, 2:25 PM EST

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Thousands of retirees, union members and activists have taken part in recent pension forums held in communities across Ontario and Manitoba.

Retirees have outlined fear of their pensions being cut because of insolvent or bankrupt employers, while active workers have expressed deep concern about the security of their pensions when they reach retirement.

Federal and provincial politicians have been invited to these community forums with a number of NDP and Liberal politicians attending. No Conservatives attended the forums held in Brampton, Toronto, Oshawa, Sudbury, London, Winnipeg or Brandon. Others are scheduled.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the community forums, organized in conjunction with the Canadian Labour Congress, highlight the immediate need to fight for pension reform for all Canadians.

"More than 60 per cent of Canadians don't have a private pension plan, so we need to work hard to reform both the private pension system and also the Canada Pension Plan," Lewenza said. "We're determined to build a better pension system for all workers."

"We need both the federal government and provincial politicians to understand how concerned those retirees, their families and active workers who are looking ahead to retirement are about this issue," said Jenny Ahn, CAW director of membership mobilization and campaigns.

One of the keys to creating more pension security is reform of the CPP, said Ahn. Here are some priorities raised in the community forums:

- Double benefits for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) over a seven-year period. This would increase CPP earnings to a maximum of $1,635 per month;

- Increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to Old Age Security pensions;

- Introduce a federal system of pension insurance. This would protect pensions to a maximum of $2,500 a month when an employer enters bankruptcy proceedings and cannot pay out pension benefits. The insurance system would also adopt pension plans when an employer declares bankruptcy and shuts down permanently.

For more information on the pension forums or to find one in your area, please visit:

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