Pension Reform

OWN is a charter member of the Common Front for Retirement Security, a national lobbying group which works for a wide range of improvements to the pension system in Canada. Whenever possible, we add our unique perspective on the plight of many older women who are forced to keep working as long as they are able, or live in poverty, relying only on OAS (Old Age Security) and GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement), since their CPP (Canada Pension) is inadequate, if it exists at all. They lack private pensions and have been unable to save on their own.

Backgrounders:  A useful history of pensions, from the Toronto Star.  For details on current conditions, see Monica Townson’s research.

Oct. 20, 2011:

Earlier this month, a delegation from the Common Front for Retirement Security (of which OWN is a charter member) met with senior staff from the Office of the Minister of State for Finance, Ted Menzies. On the agenda were the following five points:

  • Doubling the $5000 limit applying to Tax Free Savings Accounts
  • Increase in GIS benefits
  • CPP expansion
  • Prohibition of contribution holidays coupled with the amortization over 5 to 15 years of emerging surpluses and deficits
  • Finding remedies to the new Pooled Registered Pension Plans downsides (these are proposed substitutes for private pension plans tied to employment), including the fact that Canadian workers’ savings would be put in the hands of private financial profit centres

In response to this initiative, the Older Women’s Network has sent the following e-mail:

The Older Women’s Network is supportive of the important points raised in the CFRS delegation meeting with staff in the Office of the Minister of State for Finance. In particular, we support increases in the GIS and CPP, steps which would be of substantial help to older women in Canada — those already retired, and those about to retire, and those unable to retire due to inadequate pensions. As you are aware, a disproportionate number of women work in “non-standard” jobs or in the minimum wage sector, leading to underfunded pensions.

Margaret Hawthorn, Board Member
Older Women’s Network

December 2010:

OWN recently wrote to the Ontario Commission on Pension Reform as follows:

We at the Older Women’s Network are concerned that the following issues be given constant consideration when proposing reforms to the pension system.

  1. Acknowledgement of the number of Ontario women engaged in “non-standard” employment (part-time, contract, temporary)
  2. Recognition of the likelihood that women are often paid at the minimum wage
  3. The disproportionate number of women “employed” as unpaid family caregivers
  4. The number of Ontario women who do not work in paid employment due to language difficulties or various disabilities or are on social assistance

All of these factors mean a lower rate of contribution to most pension schemes leading to the many sad cases we see of elderly women living in poverty.

Margaret Hawthorn, Older Women’s Network

OWN will continue to stay on top of this issue.

Page last updated Nov. 3, 2011.