A man looks over a brochures offering various retirement savings options in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

OPINION: Why is the B.C. NDP government abandoning pensioners?

Michael Powell is the president of the Canadian Federation of Pensioners

When governments have to release information they would rather not, they do it on a Friday, on a long weekend in the summer. Just like B.C.’s government did last week.

On Aug. 2, the government released, “A Review of the Solvency Funding Framework under the Pension Benefits Standards Act: Report on Stakeholder Committee Process August 2019.” Friday? Check. Long weekend in summer? Check. Under the radar? Think again.

This report recommends that the B.C. government – an NDP government – should completely alter pension regulations in favour of the pension sponsors and the pension industry. It is entirely focused on reducing sponsors’ obligations to fully fund pensions. It fails to recommend tangible solutions to protect pensioners when companies with under-funded pensions file for bankruptcy.

The government should do the right thing and follow the lead of the federal NDP, which has committed in its election platform to protect retirement savings and put employee pensions at the front of the line if a company goes bankrupt. The federal NDP is also proposing a mandatory, industry-funded pension insurance program to protect and guarantee pensions. The B.C. government should follow suit.

As we have seen from the bankruptcies of Sears, Nortel and others, the impact of insolvency on pensioners is devastating. When Canadian pensioners lose 20 per cent or more of their pension income, there are financial repercussions that impact all of us. In a conservative case, a pensioner could see a 20-per-cent reduction in income, from $30,000 to $24,000 per year, resulting in an annual tax revenue loss of $1,500 to $2,000 per pensioner.

The impact of bankruptcy and pension loss is particularly devastating in smaller communities. It can shift pensioners from leaders and volunteers to leaning on local resources for support. Pensioners contribute to their communities in many ways, particularly as volunteers. When they lose a substantial amount of their income, they cut back on community engagement or seek post-retirement employment. How can they help out at the seniors’ centre or provide transportation for medical treatment when they can’t afford the gas?

B.C.’s 170,000 defined benefit pension beneficiaries and their families should be the most important stakeholders in pension security discussions. But the report issued by the B.C. Ministry of Finance does nothing to protect them. We have seen how companies abandon pensioners, because the law allows them to do so. Pensioners, by law, cannot negotiate to improve or ensure their pensions. Governments have that responsibility.

It’s time for the B.C. government to put pensioners first. On behalf of our 250,000 members, we are calling on Premier John Horgan and his government to put aside this report and act in the best interests of pensioners.

Michael Powell is the president of the Canadian Federation of Pensioners

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

In photos: Residents learn to paint the scenes of Salmon Arm

The free workshop was held at Piccadilly Mall

Year-round training envisioned for Salmon Arm’s Rapattack base

Mayor hopes council’s support of Rapattack will pay off in longevity for base

Letter: Better fix needed than what’s proposed for Balmoral Road/Highway 1 intersection

Province already behind on widening of Trans-Canada Highway

Salmon Arm approved for worker based in Vernon to support homeless

While application to Ministry of Social Development gets nod, one to BC Housing denied

Column: Potentially valuable WorkSafeBC review let down by bias

Notes from the Legislature by Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

Man shot near Coalmont airlifted to hospital

A man was shot near Coalmont B.C. Saturday afternoon. The victim was… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

In photos: Salmon Arm’s downtown farmers market

Out of the many sights and sounds from Salmon Arm’s downtown farmers… Continue reading

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Renter of torched Okanagan home a British Army veteran, new Canadian

Owen Wilson was just beginning to settle into life in Canada when the blaze occurred

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

Most Read