Think outside box on CPP

Posted on December 21, 2013 in Social Security Debates – Opinion/Readers’ Letters
Dec 21 2013.

Re: Province will go it alone on pensions, Dec. 17

Canada Pension Plan benefits and, unfortunately, CPP premiums must obviously be increased now. What could be better for the economy now and in the future than to have more senior citizens able to get out and about, buying goods and services?

If we don’t want to saddle employers with additional payroll costs (good point), then pay what otherwise would be the employers’ share of any increase in CPP premiums out of general federal tax revenues.

If corporate tax rates can’t be increased enough to cover the additional “employers’ side” of CPP premiums, then increase progressive personal income tax rates at the upper echelons, as may be necessary. (Yes, progressive personal income tax rates at the upper echelons are and always have been a good thing, not a bad thing.)

Don’t let the necessary enlargement of the CPP be blocked by any failure to think outside the box.

John F. Fagan, Willowdale

There are legitimate concerns in the business community about raising the CPP to above poverty levels. Nothing in life is free and the additional costs to business could indeed become job and investment killers in this economic situation. At the same time, however, the financial and political pooh-bahs are wagging their fingers at the population to save more for their so-called “golden years.” These pooh-bahs are the same ones who assured us that signing a string of free-trade agreements would bring a rising tide that would lift all boats. What ensued was a clear rising of their yachts while the rowboats were swamped and the income gap between the fleets widened.

Canada has become more and more a land of “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” an extractive economy where we ship natural resources out to others for processing into higher value goods. Low-income jobs so necessary for many were said to be better done elsewhere and cheaper goods were imported for Canadian consumers. Away went customer service call centres and others to be replaced by McJobs. Same rationale for blue-collar jobs, the engine of the postwar period. Unions were battered into submission and other workers forced to take huge pay cuts or else. Even highly paid and skilled white-collar jobs, such as information technology, were jettisoned.

Expensive and skilled training at any level seems unsafe from outsourcing. The recent attempt of the Royal Bank to bring in cheaper computer workers from India comes to mind. At the same time businesses complained if consumers didn’t do enough buying to keep the economy rolling along. But how could consumers with reduced incomes or no incomes at all do much buying of cheaper products or saving for those “golden years”?

Is it any wonder that the average Canadian’s saving rate has plummeted in the last few decades? Perhaps it’s time for a thorough and rigorous analysis of all these treaties and their impact not on the macroeconomic situation but at the level of individual Canadians who have been outsourced and marginalized and had fingers wagged at them by their “betters.”

Sam Markou, Mississauga


Re: Nixing a CPP fix, Editorial Dec. 17

It is obvious why the federal government is stalling on the CPP. It is doing the same thing with all of Canada’s social structures and social net, including health care and most recently Canada Post. Ignore any and all improvements and starve the entity until it is irrelevant to Canadians. If contributions toward your future retirement (not taxes) are not increased, the CPP will not be able to provide benefits for seniors and will become a huge debt burden, thereby unable to fulfil its mandate for Canadians. This will be put forth by the Conservatives as a reason to scrap the CPP altogether. Then the Conservatives’ Bay Street buddies can move in with privatized fixed contribution (instead of fixed benefit) plans. The federal government has made no secret of the fact that its preferred program is privatized Pooled Registered Pension Plans. They can then start reaping the profits while average Canadians will find themselves in an even worse retirement situation.

Ray Phipps, Markham


Re: The time for pension reform is right now, Opinion Dec. 15

It is rather unfortunate that the individuals who make all the decisions regarding CPP, pooled pensions, etc., are those who are not relying on these kinds of programs to fund their retirements. MPs, MPPs MLAs and senators get pensions that are larger than most regular workers’ salaries. They certainly don’t have to rely on such vehicles as CPP. Moreover, they get all medical, dental, eye wear and heaven knows what other perks for life. Many retired folk depending upon CPP also fund the ongoing medical, dental and other programs from their own pockets. It is easy for those who are in the upper echelon of wage earners to tell people to save for retirement. Many earn enough just to put a roof over their head and food on the table and have none left for savings.

Maybe it is time to have low-income people sit on some of the panels that determine what the general public needs in the way of pensions, etc.

Dave Tracey, Mississauga

No surprise that our finance minister said no to even studying enhancing the CPP. Jim Flaherty is much too busy giving away the store to his corporate bosses and looking after the 1 per cent to devote much time to the interests of the voting public.

Terry Kushnier, Scarborough

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