NPF News Releases


Seniors and those who care about them will welcome the measures announced today in the federal budget. More needs to be done.

OTTAWA – The return of the OAS eligibility age to 65 has already been announced. This will be welcome news to those who were facing having to wait two extra years for their OAS benefit after struggling in their career.

An estimated 600,000 seniors live under the poverty line today and this is not expected to change unless more is done to provide better income supports and to reduce their critical expenses like home care and drug costs.

Today’s federal budget contains welcome measures to:

Increase the guaranteed income supplement [GIS] for single seniors beginning July 2016. Single seniors, especially women, face far greater rates of poverty compared to their counterparts in couples. That will benefit 900,000 single seniors across Canada. While absolutely welcome, it is a maximum of just $2.60 more per day. Much more needs to be done to prevent poverty among seniors.

Introduce a Seniors Index for OAS and GIS to help them keep pace with their cost of living. However, while a welcome change, the index should actually help seniors keep pace with the standard of living and should be tied to wage rate increases.

Also welcome is the $200 million over 2 years to fund seniors affordable housing – without requiring a cost match from the provinces – a major barrier in the past. Secure housing is a major social determinant of health.

The funding of the Canadian foundation for Healthcare Improvement and for the Canadian Institutes of Health Information is a welcome investment provided that the Naylor report’s call for a patient focused approach to innovation is the centrepiece.

Unfortunately, the budget did not address several important promises:

Remove the requirement for a terminal diagnosis to qualify for the EI compassionate leave benefit and increase flexibility in how the benefit may be used. The requirement for a terminal diagnosis has in the past stopped people from applying for the compassionate leave benefit. In addition the flexibility in using the benefit better reflects how chronic illnesses play out.

Invest $3 billion in home care and palliative care over X years. There is an immediate need for sustained funding and national standards on home care. The patchwork of palliative care must be addressed immediately and this new funding will be a major first step.

The promise to join the Pan Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance [pCPA] will incrementally reduce the costs of many drugs. However a comprehensive National Pharmacare system is necessary in order to ensure that every Canadian is able to access needed medications regardless of income and postal code.

The recent announcement to work with the provinces to find a consensus to increase the CPP is somewhat encouraging. However, indications from some of the provinces cause concern that the consensus will not be achieved in the near future. It may be necessary for the federal government to consider options such as the introduction of a national pension framework independent of the CPP process that provides a robust pension system and that gives each province greater flexibility on plan design (e.g., coverage and benefit levels) and timing of introduction
(e.g., reflecting regional conditions).

Mandate an expert panel to consider a guaranteed annual income. Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos welcomed the option of a guaranteed annual income as part of a anti-poverty strategy
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/guaranteed-income-hasmerit-as-a-national-policy-minister-says/article28588670/ Already the Ontario government is prepared to study the idea.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-should-workwith-ontario-on-guaranteed-income-strategy-advocates/article28936544/ And the recommendation to explore the idea was contained in the Finance Committee’s pre-budget report
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/guaranteed-minimum-income-meritsfurther-study-pre-budget-report-says-1.3490157

National Pensioners Federation is a national, non partisan, non sectarian organization of 350 seniors chapters, clubs, groups, organizations and individual supporters across Canada with a collective membership of 1,000,000 seniors and retirees devoted entirely to the welfare and best interests of ageing Canadians.

For more information, please contact:
Herb John
President, National Pensioners Federation
(519) 350-3221
herb.john@npfmail.ca
www.nationalpensionersfederation.ca
Susan Eng
Counsel, National Pensioners Federation
(647) 988-3595
susan.eng.to@rogers.com

Federal, Provincial and Territorial (F/P/T) Ministers Responsible for Seniors met this week in Charlottetown to review recent collaborative work and discuss ways to further support the well-being of seniors living in Canada.

F/P/T Ministers Responsible for Seniors recognized the valuable contribution that seniors make to Canadian society. They agreed that all governments have a role to play to ensure that seniors are supported and their contributions are respected.

F/P/T Ministers Responsible for Seniors were pleased to approve several resources to support planning for aging in place. These include the first in a series of videos, a fact sheet and a comprehensive self-assessment checklist, that will raise awareness and encourage seniors and near-seniors to consider the importance of planning for aging in place in their home or community. These resources will be made public and distributed by provinces and territories at their discretion. Ministers were also pleased to discuss the progress being made to raise awareness among employers and key stakeholders of the benefits of supporting older workers who are balancing work and caregiving responsibilities, including best practices/models of creating caregiver-friendly workplaces.

During the meeting, Ministers directed that work immediately take place on two priority areas: explore ways to increase caregiver readiness for current and future Canadian caregivers; and share promising approaches that lead to innovative solutions to address social isolation among seniors, including those living in rural and remote communities.

Quotes

“Forums such as this help us better anticipate and respond to the changing needs of Canada’s aging population. All levels of government have a role to play, and we are committed to working in partnership to support seniors in Canada. Our discussions over these past two days have focused on critical issues, such as the importance of planning for aging in place and of supporting older workers who are balancing the competing demands of work and caregiving.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors),Government of Canada

“Prince Edward Island was honoured to have the opportunity to host the 2014 meeting of Ministers Responsible for Seniors. As Co-chair of the conference, I welcomed this opportunity to learn from both my colleagues and presenters. We must continue working collaboratively to support our near-seniors and seniors and ensure their needs are front and center at all levels of government and in our communities.”
– The Honourable Valerie E. Docherty, Minister of Community Services and Seniors, Prince Edward Island

Quick facts

• The Forum of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors was established in 1992 by F/P/T governments to advance issues of common interest. The focus is on concrete, collaborative projects and actions that will have a positive impact on the lives of seniors.
• Prince Edward Island is home to Canada’s third highest proportion of people age 65 and over at 17.9% of the population.
• F/P/T Ministers Responsible for Seniors will reconvene in British Columbia in 2016 to review progress and identify new priority areas to help meet the needs of seniors.

Associated links

• Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum

Québec contributes to the F/P/T Seniors Forum by sharing expertise, information and best practices. However, it does not subscribe to, nor participate in, federal /provincial/territorial approaches in the area of seniors. The Quebec government intends to continue to fulfill its responsibilities to seniors in Quebec.

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Contacts

Earl Maynard
Office of the Minister of State (Seniors)
819-953-1144

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
Follow us on Twitter

Jean Doherty,
Communications, Prince Edward Island
jmdoherty@gov.pe.ca
902-314-5702


16e réunion des ministres fédéral, provinciaux et territoriaux responsables des aînés Une collaboration continue pour favoriser le mieux-être des aînés au Canada

Les ministres fédéral, provinciaux et territoriaux (FPT) responsables des aînés se sont réunis cette semaine à Charlottetown pour examiner les récents travaux qu’ils ont réalisés conjointement et pour discuter des avenues visant à favoriser davantage le mieux-être des aînés au Canada.
Ils ont reconnu la précieuse contribution des aînés à la société canadienne et ont convenu que tous les ordres de gouvernement avaient un rôle à jouer pour offrir du soutien aux aînés et veiller au respect de leur contribution.

Les ministres FPT responsables des aînés ont approuvé plusieurs ressources visant à appuyer la planification du vieillissement chez soi. Parmi ces ressources, il y a la première vidéo d’une série de vidéos, un feuillet d’information ainsi qu’une liste de contrôle d’autoévaluation qui visent à sensibiliser les aînés et les personnes qui approchent de l’âge de la retraite et à les encourager à tenir compte de l’importance de prendre les dispositions nécessaires pour qu’ils puissentvieillir chez eux ou au sein de leur communauté. Ces ressources seront mises à la disposition du public et distribuées aux provinces et aux territoires, à leur discrétion. Les ministres étaient également heureux d’examiner les progrès réalisés pour sensibiliser les employeurs et les principaux intervenants aux avantages d’appuyer les travailleurs âgés qui concilient leur travail avec leurs responsabilités d’aidant naturel, y compris les pratiques et modèles exemplaires liés à l’établissement de milieux de travail adaptés aux besoins des aidants naturels.

À la rencontre, les ministres ont demandé que des travaux soient entrepris immédiatement dans deux secteurs prioritaires : étudier les façons d’augmenter la disponibilité des aidants naturels actuels et futurs au Canada et mettre en commun les approches prometteuses pour trouver des solutions novatrices aux problèmes d’isolement social chez les aînés, plus particulièrement ceux des collectivités rurales et éloignées.
Citations

« Des réunions comme celle-ci nous aident à mieux anticiper les besoins changeants de la population vieillissante du Canada afin d’être en mesure d’y répondre. Tous les ordres de gouvernement ont un rôle à jouer, et nous sommes déterminés à travailler en partenariat en vue d’offrir du soutien aux aînés canadiens. Au cours des deux derniers jours, nos discussions ont principalement porté sur des questions critiques, notamment l’importance de la planification du vieillissement chez soi et du soutien des travailleurs âgés qui concilient des exigences concurrentielles liées au travail et à leurs responsabilités d’aidant naturel. »
– L’honorable Alice Wong, ministre d’État (Aînés), gouvernement du Canada

« C’était un honneur pour l’Île du Prince Édouard d’accueillir les ministres responsables des aînés pour cette réunion. À titre de coprésidente de la conférence, j’étais heureuse de profiter de l’occasion pour apprendre de mes collègues et des présentateurs. Nous devons continuer à travailler ensemble pour répondre aux besoins des personnes approchant de l’âge de la retraite et des aînés. Nous devons également nous assurer que les besoins des aînés sont mis en avant-plan, et ce, à tous les paliers de gouvernement et au sein de nos collectivités. »
– L’honorable Valerie E. Docherty, ministre des Services communautaires et des Aînés, Île du Prince Édouard

En bref

• Le Forum fédéral, provincial et territorial des ministres responsables des aînés a été établi en 1992 par les gouvernements FPT pour faire avancer les questions d’intérêt commun. Dans son travail, le Forum met l’accent sur les projets de collaboration et les mesures concrètes qui auront une incidence positive sur la vie des aînés.
• On retrouve à l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard, la troisième plus forte proportion de personnes de 65 ans et plus du Canada, soit 17,9 % de la population.
• Les ministres FPT responsables des aînés se réuniront de nouveau en 2016, en Colombie-Britannique, pour discuter des progrès accomplis et établir de nouvelles priorités en vue de répondre aux besoins des aînés.

Liens connexes

• Forum fédéral, provincial et territorial des ministres responsables des aînés

Le Québec contribue au Forum FPT des aînés par le partage d’expertise, d’information et de bonnes pratiques. Cependant, il n’adhère, ni ne participe aux approches fédérale-provinciales-territoriales en ce qui concerne la question des aînés. Le gouvernement du Québec entend continuer d’assumer pleinement ses responsabilités auprès des aînés au Québec.

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Personnes-ressources

Earl Maynard
Cabinet de la ministre d’État (Aînés)
819-953-1144

Bureau des relations avec les médias
Emploi et Développement social Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
Suivez-nous sur Twitter

Jean Doherty,
Communications, Île du Prince Édouard
jmdoherty@gov.pe.ca
902-314-5702

OTTAWA – Representatives from seniors’ groups and organizations for people with disabilities joined the Canadian Union of Postal Workers today to launch a major legal challenge to the attempt to end home mail delivery.

“In Canada, people should count, not just the bottom line,” said Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

The union announced today that a challenge will be filed in the Federal Court of Canada under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, asking the court to put a stop to Canada Post’s termination of home mail delivery. The challenge will also argue that this decision is beyond Canada Post’s authority and should be made by the Parliament of Canada which created Canada Post and defined its mandate. On December 11th, 2013, Canada Post announced that it would make Canada the only G8 country without home mail delivery. CEO Deepak Chopra’s bizarre statement that seniors would welcome the exercise of walking to collect their mail, as well as Canada Post’s subsequent requirement of a medical note to retain home delivery without any consultation with doctors has caused additional consternation.

“This is one of the most important postal decisions which has ever been made since Canada Post was created in 1981,” said Paul Cavalluzzo, one of Canada’s foremost constitutional lawyers, who will be arguing the case on behalf of disabled and older Canadians.

While the Conservatives have attempted to distance themselves from Canada Post’s decision, they are clearly backing the end of home delivery. Those who are filing the challenge say the Conservatives should be held accountable for ramming this through without proper consultation or debate.

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For more information, please contact:
Aalya Ahmad, CUPW Communications, 613-327-1177 or aahmad@cupw-sttp.org
Carmela Hutchison, Disabled Women’s Network of Canada (DAWN-RAFH), carmela.hutchison@gmail.com .

OTTAWA – Plus tôt aujourd’hui, des représentantes et représentants de groupes de personnes âgées et d’organismes qui défendent les intérêts des personnes ayant des limitations fonctionnelles se sont joints au Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses des postes (STTP) pour annoncer le dépôt d’une importante contestation judiciaire de la tentative d’abolir la livraison du courrier à domicile.

« Au Canada, on devrait faire passer les gens avant les profits », a déclaré Denis Lemelin, président national du STTP.

Le Syndicat a annoncé aujourd’hui qu’il déposera une contestation judiciaire auprès de la Cour fédérale du Canada en vertu de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés. Cette contestation demandera à la Cour de suspendre la décision de Postes Canada d’abolir la livraison du courrier à domicile. La contestation soutiendra aussi qu’une telle décision outrepasse les pouvoirs de Postes Canada et qu’elle relève plutôt du Parlement, puisque c’est ce dernier qui a créé Postes Canada et qui en a déterminé le mandat.

Le 11 décembre 2013, Postes Canada a annoncé son intention de faire du Canada le tout premier pays du G8 à abolir la livraison du courrier à domicile. La consternation causée par cette annonce s’est approfondie lorsque Deepak Chopra, président-directeur général de Postes Canada, a déclaré que les personnes âgées seraient ravies de faire de l’exercice en allant chercher leur courrier à une boîte postale communautaire, et de nouveau par la suite lorsque Postes Canada a annoncé, sans s’être donnée la peine de consulter des médecins à ce sujet, qu’elle exigera des certificats médicaux de la part des résidents qui souhaitent conserver leur service de livraison à domicile.

« Il s’agit d’une des plus importantes décisions visant le service postal depuis la création de Postes Canada en 1981, » a déclaré Paul Cavalluzzo, avocat constitutionnaliste parmi les plus réputés du pays. Me Cavalluzzo plaidera la cause des personnes ayant des limitations fonctionnelles et des personnes âgées dans cette affaire.

Bien que les conservateurs aient essayé de prendre leurs distances par rapport à la décision de Postes Canada, ils sont clairement en faveur de l’abolition de la livraison du courrier à domicile. Les auteurs de la contestation judiciaire affirment que les conservateurs doivent être tenus responsables de la prise de cette décision à toute vapeur, sans consultations adéquates ni débat.

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Renseignements : Aalya Ahmad, spécialiste des communications du STTP, 613-327-1177 ou aahmad@cupw-sttp.org.
Carmela Hutchison, Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada (DAWN-RAFH), carmela.hutchison@gmail.com

A rally was held in Toronto on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 to protest the impending changes to Canadian pensions. Hours later, the Second National Summit on Pension Reform took place inside the Arcadian; the summit was attended by representatives from Sun Life Financial, the Financial Sector Regulation and Policy (FSRP) Division of Alberta, Canada’s Public Policy Forum, Toronto Financial Services Alliance, and the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management, just to name a few; no aging Canadians or their representatives were asked to attend. Jean Claude Parrot, former National President of CUPW, gave a passionate speech outside of the Arcadian. He was joined by Jo-Ann Hannah, Director of Pensions and Benefits at Unifor National, President Herb John, and Canadian Labour Council President Hassan Yusseff. Supporters handed out petition flyers and information packages to passers-by, and many stopped to learn inquire about the summit, and how the potential changes to pension plans would affect their future.







Herb John—President of NPF—Speech at Defend Our Pensions! Rally

Jean Claude Parrot—Former National President of CUPW—Speech at Defend Our Pensions! Rally

Hassan Yussuff—President of the Canadian Labour Council—Speech at Defend Our Pensions! Rally

Jo Ann Hannah—Director of Pensions and Benefits at Unifor National—Speech at Defend Our Pensions! Rally

Videos Courtesy of Nadine MacKinnon.

For more information on this issue, click here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Local senior citizens were called to be more politically active in protecting their pensions and improving health care at a rally held Wednesday at Windsor’s City Hall Square.

A crowd of 100 or so attended the afternoon event held in recognition of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons.

“I came to see what’s going on in the country and I want to keep my pension,” said Windsor’s Jackie Reaume, a retired welder with 30 years of service at Fabco.

They were entertained by the Life After 50 Club choir and engaged by a lineup of 10 guest speakers, including former CAW national president Ken Lewenza and former Manitoba Premier Howard Pawley.

A modified United Nations International Day of Older Persons flag bearing an imposed Maple Leaf was raised.

“We can only stop the social decline with political activity,” Lewenza said. “We could be the most vulnerable tomorrow. We have an aging population in Windsor and the young people are leaving the city to find jobs.”

Pawley noted that in 2006, one in seven Canadians were 65 years or older and by 2031 that ratio will be one in four.

“Ontario is home to 40 per cent of (Canadian) seniors,” Pawley said. “It is at a crucial juncture. This is a challenge for policy makers, for families and for seniors themselves who have inadequate or no pensions. Workers dependent on pensions from companies must be protected and they are not protected today.”

Herb John, president of the National Pensioners Federation and a retired autoworker from Ford’s Essex Engine plant, warned of the growing number of seniors living in poverty.

He said the poverty rate for seniors in 1995 was 3.9 per cent according to Statistics Canada. In 2005, it hit double digits at 10.2 per cent and the most recent stats from 2010 have it at 12.3 per cent.

“We no longer have an economy that supports all the people in it,” said John who now lives on Walpole Island.

He warned of the federal government’s plan for Target Benefit Pensions which would allow pensions from the federally regulated private sector or Crown Corporations to fluctuate.

“Your pension cheque would no longer be guaranteed,” John said. “When the stock market goes down they can tell us we have to take less. They’ve already done it in New Brunswick. Everybody should be in an uproar over this. People are afraid if they rock the boat they’ll lose what little they have left but if we all rock the boat together we can make a lot of waves.”

Original article from:
http://blogs.windsorstar.com/news/seniors-encouraged-to-flex-political-muscle


For more information please refer to the following links:
International Day of Older Persons


Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging


World Health Organization – Ageing and Life Course


Local senior citizens were called to be more politically active in protecting their pensions and improving health care at a rally held Wednesday at Windsor’s City Hall Square.

A crowd of 100 or so attended the afternoon event held in recognition of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons.

“I came to see what’s going on in the country and I want to keep my pension,” said Windsor’s Jackie Reaume, a retired welder with 30 years of service at Fabco.

They were entertained by the Life After 50 Club choir and engaged by a lineup of 10 guest speakers, including former CAW national president Ken Lewenza and former Manitoba Premier Howard Pawley.

A modified United Nations International Day of Older Persons flag bearing an imposed Maple Leaf was raised.

“We can only stop the social decline with political activity,” Lewenza said. “We could be the most vulnerable tomorrow. We have an aging population in Windsor and the young people are leaving the city to find jobs.”

Pawley noted that in 2006, one in seven Canadians were 65 years or older and by 2031 that ratio will be one in four.

“Ontario is home to 40 per cent of (Canadian) seniors,” Pawley said. “It is at a crucial juncture. This is a challenge for policy makers, for families and for seniors themselves who have inadequate or no pensions. Workers dependent on pensions from companies must be protected and they are not protected today.”

Herb John, president of the National Pensioners Federation and a retired autoworker from Ford’s Essex Engine plant, warned of the growing number of seniors living in poverty.

He said the poverty rate for seniors in 1995 was 3.9 per cent according to Statistics Canada. In 2005, it hit double digits at 10.2 per cent and the most recent stats from 2010 have it at 12.3 per cent.

“We no longer have an economy that supports all the people in it,” said John who now lives on Walpole Island.

He warned of the federal government’s plan for Target Benefit Pensions which would allow pensions from the federally regulated private sector or Crown Corporations to fluctuate.

“Your pension cheque would no longer be guaranteed,” John said. “When the stock market goes down they can tell us we have to take less. They’ve already done it in New Brunswick. Everybody should be in an uproar over this. People are afraid if they rock the boat they’ll lose what little they have left but if we all rock the boat together we can make a lot of waves.”

Original article from:
http://blogs.windsorstar.com/news/seniors-encouraged-to-flex-political-muscle

The 70th annual National Pensioners Federation Convention took place on September 17 and 19, 2014 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Members from across the country came out to take part in discussions on relevant political and cultural issues that pertain to Canadian citizens, and in particular to aging Canadians. Speakers included Adrienne Silnicki, Coordinator with the Canadian Health Coalition, Sheelah McLean, one of the founding members of Idle No More, Lynne Fernandez, the Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in Manitoba, NDP Member of Parliament – Seniors Critic , Irene Mathyssen, Celia Sankar of Diversity Canada, and Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians.
Yearly conventions are instrumental in continuing to organize, listen, and discuss in order to effectively advocate the principles held by the NPF. Some of the major issues brought forward by attendees included improving government legislation on health care by renegotiating a new Health Accord with the provinces and increasing the federal funding of provincial health care costs to 25%, a national pharmacare program, increases in CPP, OAS and GIS, protection of pension income, living wage discussions, poverty reductions and a national housing policy.
NPF President Herb John would like to extend his thanks to all those who attended the convention, to the volunteers and committees that made the convention possible, in particular SSM for funding the very successful Meet and Greet, the Saskatoon Federation of Union Retirees for funding coffee and refreshments, and Pat Trask for providing delicious baked goods. A special thank you to Sheila Righi, who provided much leadership to the NPF, Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc, and others for many years; to Fern Height and SSAI for hosting; and to Jean Simpson for her ongoing work with NPF newsletters, booklets, and documents.

Sheelah McLean-Idle No More
Sheelah McLean is one of four founders of Idle No More, one of the largest Indigenous mass movements in Canadian history. Along with the other founding members, she was listed in the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013. The movement has pushed beyond the boundaries of our own countries, with demonstrations sparking up all over the globe including in Australia, the United States, and across Europe. Sheelah is a teacher and activist, currently living in Saskatchewan.

Click Here to view the Power Point Presentation.


Lynne Fernandez-Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives
Lynne Fernandez is the Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in Manitoba. She holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Manitoba. Her interests lie in economic history, community economic development, government policy, as well as labour and environmental issues.

Click Here to view the Power Point Presentation.


Celia Sankar-Diversity Canada
Celia Sankar is the founder of Diversity Canada. She has a Master’s Degree in International Journalism from City University of London, England, and has worked with BBC Radio, The Times and The Sunday Times of London, England, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, The Victoria Times-Colonist and more. Diversity Canada strives to create, facilitate and promote opportunities for multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, differently-abled and diverse groups and individuals to participate in the economic, social, and cultural life of Canada and elsewhere.


Adrienne Silnicki-Canadian Health Coalition
Adrienne Silnicki is the Coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition. Adrienne is a writer for rabble.ca and Canadian Perspectives, and is passionate about sustaining the conversation on health care issues in Canada in order to bring about change.

Click Here to view the Power Point Presentation.


Irene Mathyssen-NDP
Irene Mathyssen has served as Member of Parliament for the riding of London-Fanshawe in Ontario since 2006. She was named the Official Opposition Critic for Seniors Issues, served as the Critic for the Status of Women, chair of the NDP’s women’s caucus and as the vice-chair of the Status of Women committee.

Click Here to view the Power Point Presentation.


Garry Neil-Council of Canadians
Garry Neil is Executive Director of the Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest social justice organization. Garry is also the Executive Director of the Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network. He has written extensively about the negative impacts of economic globalization on world cultures.

“I am very much involved not only on the pension issue, but also with the ideology behind it … to privatize the post office and other public services. Their ideology is very clear to me in regards to where they are going … it’s important to mobilize people and make them aware of what is happening, and make sure we are going to have a say in this process.” – Jean-Claude Parrot

By John Devine

Getting on the bad side of retired Canadians is never a good idea, a lesson one might have thought today’s generation of politicians would have learned from Brian Mulroney when he tried to de-index pensions back in 1986.
After incurring the wrath of seniors, particular one irate elderly woman who told him during a protest on Parliament Hill, “goodbye Charlie Brown,” Mulroney quickly backed down rather than face a withering assault from a generation of Canadians who knew how to mobilize their forces, bringing grey power to bear.
Now, a new generation of retirees is promising to take on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government’s plan to introduce a target benefit pension model for federally regulated industries, and Crown corporations.
In an open letter to Kevin Sorenson, Minister of state for Finance, dated July 25, Peter Whitaker, formerly a union negotiator for Canada Post employees, took issue with the government’s strategy, and also the consultation process. He wrote on behalf of a number of retiree organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians, he says.

“Our concerns are two-fold,” he wrote. “First, we object to the unfair, opaque, and inadequate way that this consultation was conducted. Second, we oppose the Federal Government opening the way for employers to convert defined-benefit (DB) plans to target-benefit (TB) plans; thereby allowing sponsors to retroactively eliminate DB pension liabilities and potentially reduce pension cheques paid to retirees.”

In an interview with ARIA, Whitaker, along with Jean-Claude Parrot, representing a group of retired Canada Post employees, said that the initial group of organizations has grown and now includes the National Pensioners Federationand its one million members, and the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada with its 500,000 members.
“It is picking up steam and we are trying to use that pressure to get the minister to sit down and talk to us. They fumbled the ball when they introduced the consultation process because they never involved retirees. That’s wrong. If you want to deal with retirees’ pensions, then retirees have to be invited to participate, and you have to be informed. No one knew this was coming,” he says.
The July 25 letter followed an earlier one sent to the minister on July 15 following up on attempts to get a response to the government’s initial release about its target benefit plans, says Whitaker. In June submission by a group of Canada Post Corporation retirees had been sent to get answer about the government’s plans and how retirees might be impacted.
The finance department responded on June 18, two days before the deadline for submissions to the consultation process, that an individual could make a submission, contrary to the conditions laid out that invited input from retiree groups, he maintains.
None of the retired or deferred members of the Canada Post defined benefit pension plan are legally represented by their former unions or associations, as they are no longer employees, explains Whitaker, and so have no representation under the conditions of the consultation process. The efforts to gain a voice are attracting support, he says.
“We started contacting the other retiree groups … and we are picking up more as we go along.”
The July 15 letter concludes with a request for at least two retirees “who have endorsed the CPC (Canada Post Corporation) retiree submission” to meet with department officials to discuss how retirees can be involved in the process.
The July 25 correspondence calls “on the government to cease any further development on framework legislation or regulation for DB-TB pension plan conversions, and instead act to stabilize and sustain existing DB pension plans in order to protect the benefits of all current and retired plan members.”
For inspiration Whitaker and others opposing the government’s target benefit shift looked to New Brunswick, where a group of retired civil servants are taking their government to court over unilateral changes to their pensions.
In moving to a shared risk model, the government removed certain benefit guarantees, making the delivery of them conditional. (For an ARIA story on the NB retirees, click here).
“We saw what they did down there, and the reaction was amazing with retirees forming a coalition to take on the government. What we see us doing here is similar to what they are doing there … this whole process of attacking the vested rights of employees and retires, and taking away benefits we have paid for through our working lives, we see it as the same fight.”
Whitaker and Parrot also agree with the view that the federal government’s intent with target benefit is to give employers a way to shift from defined benefit; it’s not about providing a better option to defined contribution, says Whitaker.
“They are just going to walk away from their obligations and shift all of the costs onto retirees and employees. It’s not shared.”
For Parrot, formerly national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the approach of the federal government to pensions is routed in its ideology, which includes privatization of services, including, perhaps, Canada Post. That would be an easier task to accomplish if new owners didn’t have the legacy costs of a DB plan.
“I am very much involved not only on the pension issue, but also with the ideology behind it … to privatize the post office and other public services. Their ideology is very clear to me in regards to where they are going.”
The reaction from retiree groups has been supportive, he adds.
“It’s important to mobilize people and make them aware of what is happening, and make sure we are going to have a say in this process.”
The government, says Whitaker, is preparing legislative framework for the fall, which he suspects will be unveiled at a finance department meeting in Toronto. A petition has been shipped across the country to retiree groups and bargaining units, and the idea is to present that at the October meeting.
“What we are looking at now is similar to what we saw in 1986 when Mulroney tried to take away the indexing. The seniors on the Hill said no way … grey power confronted them and they backed off. It looks like that is what we are going to have to do again.”

July 25, 2014

The Honourable Kevin Sorenson, P.C., M.P.
Minister of State (Finance)
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
k.sorenson@fin.gc.ca

Dear Minister:
The collected retiree groups that have endorsed this letter represent hundreds of thousands of retired pension plan members in Canada. We are writing you to express our serious concerns regarding the government’s recent ‘consultation’ on a potential framework for target-benefit pension plans in the federal private-sector and for Crown corporations.

Our concerns are two-fold: first, we object to the unfair, opaque, and inadequate way that this consultation was conducted. Second, we oppose the Federal Government opening the way for employers to convert defined-benefit (DB) plans to target-benefit (TB) plans; thereby allowing sponsors to retroactively eliminate DB pension liabilities and potentially reduce pension cheques paid to retirees.

With respect to the first concern, all stakeholders have cause to be alarmed at the way in which this consultation was handled. Retired members of DB pension plans under federal jurisdiction have a significant and immediate material interest in the development of a framework for converting pension plans. Yet there was no indication that individual retirees were invited or permitted to participate in the process, only retiree groups. As a consequence, most retirees were not properly notified of the consultation and the proposed framework, and they were not made aware of the potential personal consequences of what the Federal Government is contemplating.

We are also concerned with the lack of transparency characterizing the consultation. The endorsing retiree groups were not informed or invited to in-person consultations with the Minister, and learned of them only when the Minister declared the consultations closed. In effect, this was no consultation, but rather an invitation for some interested parties—but not all—to submit written comments to the government. Other aspects of the consultation were simply baffling. The consultation document inexplicably invited only plan sponsors to address fundamental questions, such as, “Should TBPs be an option available to employers and employees of federally-regulated DB or DC plans?” The lack of proper notification and consultation compounds the fact that there is already significant misinformation and myth surrounding these plans. target-benefit pension plans and “shared-risk” plans are persistently and routinely characterized incorrectly in the media. For instance, “shared-risk” plans are commonly described as providing “guaranteed” benefits, when—in fact—benefit levels are not guaranteed, but instead are contingent on the funded status of the plan. In New Brunswick, the government has admitted that communication with plan members prior to “sharedrisk” plan conversions has been inadequate, and retirees have initiated legal action in response to inadequate and misleading information.

The stakes could not be higher for retired plan members, who are typically least able to manage the risk of plan underfunding and adjust to reduced pension benefits in retirement. Furthermore, the stakes are particularly high for the retired members of the Canada Post Corporation pension plan. The conversion of DB plans to TB arrangements contemplated in the federal consultation paper would allow Canada Post to retroactively eliminate its DB pension liabilities. In one fell swoop, this would make the corporation significantly more attractive to a private-sector buyer. Recently, Blacklock’s reporter revealed that the Prime Minister commissioned research detailing the privatization of the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail. What that research would have detailed, was that similar treatment of the Royal Mail’s pension liabilities was an important step in the process of preparing it for privatization. Despite this, only a tiny fraction of the nearly 30,000 retired members of the Canada Post Corporation pension plan were included in the government’s target-benefit pension consultations.

With respect to our second concern, we call on the government to repudiate the notion that employers should be allowed to retroactively eliminate existing DB plan liabilities. These pension benefits were paid for through the deferred earnings of retired members, and formed part of their compensation and terms and conditions of their employment. It is unconscionable that the government would permit employers to retroactively escape their legal obligations in this manner. It is also highly offensive and unacceptable to Canadians; a June 20th Ipsos poll found that 94% of those surveyed agreed that “employers should live up to the commitments they have made to pensioners and employees.”

We therefore call on the government to clearly and unambiguously repudiate any changes to pension standards legislation permitting plan sponsors to eliminate past- service DB liabilities by way of converting to a target-benefit or “shared-risk” plan. We call on the government to cease any further development on framework legislation or regulation for DB-TB pension plan conversions, and instead act to stabilize and sustain existing DB pension plans in order to protect the benefits of all current and retired plan members.

We look forward to your response to this letter.
Yours sincerely,

Peter Whitaker
Peter-Manon@rogers.com

List of Retiree Groups Endorsing This Open Letter:

Jean-Claude Parrot for a group of 32 Canada Post Corporation retirees

Canadian Alliance of United Seniors (CAUS)

National Pensioners Federation (NPF)

Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC) and its Area Councils

Congress of Union Retirees of Canada—Hamilton, Burlington, and Oakville Chapter

BC Federation of Retired Union Members (BC FORUM)

Canadian Union of Postal Workers Metro Vancouver Retirees Organization

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2014/06/09/group-protests-pc-platform-in-niagara

Look at the issues, get informed and vote.

And if you don’t agree with any of the choices, decline your ballot, says a young worker and volunteer outreach coordinator with the Windsor Workers’ Education Centre.

“At least vote. Make sure that our message is being heard loud and clear,” said Melisa Larue, one of about 300 people who gathered outside of Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s constituency office in Beamsville Monday to protest against the party’s platform.

Larue said many young voters don’t feel the three major political parties are adequately addressing their concerns.

“I think a lot of it has to do with (youth) just don’t see themselves with any platform representation. Their issues are not being shown, so they’re not standing behind it.”

She said the Green party receives a lot of votes from young people, but nowhere near enough to get them into a position of power.

And the PC party, said Larue, are the ones with the least to offer young people.

She said when it comes to issues such as education, health care, pensions and the environment, the Tory platform has a lot of “holes” in it.

“When (Hudak) addresses the million-jobs plan, it doesn’t actually look at what are the jobs being created for young workers and it’s more likely to be precarious work and at the same time driving down wages,” she said.

“NDP has proposed a youth jobs strategy, but it’s not really clear what they’re going to do. “The Liberals . promised (to keep the 30% tuition grant), which is good, but they haven’t really come out in any other strong stances on education.”

Hundreds of retirees, young workers and students rallied outside of Hudak’s constituency office at noon. The National Pensioners Federation organized the protest.

Herb John, president of the federation, said Hudak’s plan to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs would have a “huge impact on young people looking for work and seniors who rely on much-needed services.

“We don’t believe that austerity is the way to . build communities and bring prosperity to Ontario. We’ve seen from other countries that austerity programs don’t work.”

When it comes to pension-plan proposals, John said he favours the NDP approach, which calls on the federal government to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan.

He said the Liberal proposal for an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan as a supplement to the CPP is a “good idea, but only in the absence of federal leadership.

“I think (the NDP has) the best plan because it’s something that already exists. It doesn’t make a lot of sense if we have the option of doing that to start something else provincially. We need a national standard for pensions and we need a lot of other national standards for health care and housing that we don’t have.”

When asked to respond to Monday’s protest, Jacqui Delaney, a senior campaign member of Hudak’s team, said the PC party has a “comprehensive” platform that addresses the economy.

“Growth in the private sector provides new tax dollars to help pay for government services,” said Delaney. “We know we can build a ‘previously unimagined’ Ontario, but it’s going to take some courage and a willingness to challenge the failed status quo. That’s what our Ontario PC party platform million-jobs plan delivers.”

National Pensioners Federation

70: Years in existence
350: Clubs, approximately, across Canada
1M: Members, approximately
Advocates for stronger pensions, social programs

Pursuant to Section 12 of the Telecommunication Act, the DiversityCanada Foundation and the National Pensioners Federation are submitting this Petition to the Governor in Council.

The Petitioners request that the Governor in Council issue an Order to vary Telecom Decision CRTC 2014-101 so as to acknowledge errors in law inherent in the decision; quash Section J of the Wireless Code; and establish a new hearing to reconsider the prohibition of prepaid wireless balance expiry.

The Petition is accompanied by six appendices, labelled Appendix A – F.

-Telecom Decision CRTC 2014-101 Wireless Code – Request by DiversityCanada Foundation to review and vary Telecom Regulatory Policy 2013-271 regarding expiry of prepaid wireless service cards

-Petition to the Governor in Council to Vary

Appendix A – F
Appendix A: Detailed Description of Prepaid Wireless Services
Appendix B: Detailed Description of Prepaid Wireless Balance Expiry
Appendix C: Summary of the DiversityCanada Foundation’s submissions during the Wireless Code Proceeding
Appendix D: Evidence Presented By the DiversityCanada Foundation during the Wireless Code Proceeding
Appendix E: Evidence Presented By the Public Interest Advocacy Centre during the Wireless Code Proceeding
Appendix F: Intervention by Vaxination Informatique to the Part I Proceeding To Review and Vary the Wireless Code Decision

The Federal Budget recently released by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty leaves out many crucial areas, including those pertaining to retirees and pensioners.

The budget put forth by Harper’s Conservative government highlights cuts to military funding and funding for rural internet connection but includes no mention of the aging population.

“Canada does not prioritize or protect the income of aging Canadians,” said Herb John, President of the National Pensioners Federation.

“Canada is the only G7 country without a national housing policy,” he said as evidence to the current government’s lack of commitment to older Canadians.

Bill C-400, “An act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians” was presented for a vote on Feb. 27, 2013. The vote turned out 129 for and 153 against with all votes against coming from the Conservative party.

Further evidence, John said, includes Bill C-501; “An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act”. The bill which would entitle employees to termination, severance and pension moneys ahead of other creditors did not become law.

He also outlined how a proposed increase to the Canada Pension Plan which has garnered broad support, has not been implemented.

In the last budget the eligibility for Old Age Security was delayed from age 65 to age 67 without any financial justification.

“This budget showed that Canada does not act upon the requested advice of experts,” John said.

In November 2006, the Special Senate Committee on Aging was created with a broad mandate to review a wide range of complex issues to determine if Canada is providing the right programs and services at the right time to the individuals who need them.

One of the recommendations suggested the government “provide leadership and coordination through initiatives such as a National Integrated Care Initiative, a National Caregiver Strategy, a National Pharmacare Program and a federal transfer to address the needs of provinces with the highest proportion of the aging population.”

“Addressing issues in these categories would resonate with Canadians number one concern, which is Health Care,” said John.

“One positive move was to provide $305 million over five years to enhance Broadband in rural areas.” John said. “This is at least recognition of the issue but the announcement is not big on details. 5mb per second would not be welcome news to anyone living in an urban centre.”

“We will see if this is enough to enable aging Canadians in rural areas to have the access to information at a reasonable cost that residents of large municipalities have,” he said.

“This federal government has again chosen to deny aging Canadians the care and respect they deserve today. We will see this government play Santa Claus before next year’s federal election.”

The election results will tell them clearly that they were “a day late and a dollar short,” John said.

Further information relating to the National Pensioners Federation will be posted on the website, nationalpensionersfederation.ca, following the official launch this Friday.

We are happy to announce this launch as the site will allow for a more simplistic and user friendly experience.

We encourage all members and the public to regularly visit the site for events relating to the National Pensioners Federation and newsworthy updates when available.

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Contact
Herb John
President, National Pensioners Federation
(519) 350-3221