Saturday, June 12, 2010

Parochial Alberta ... Again

Can Alberta be any more parochial? Or perhaps the Stelmachites are just terrified of the Wildrose Alliance party. In any event, Alberta's reaction to CPP reform is just ridiculous.

Morton says the Flaherty's pension reform vision is an overreaction and not targeted response.

"Expanding the Canada Pension Plan may benefit the significant minority who are not saving enough for retirement, but it would also provide additional and unnecessary benefits to those who already have adequate income provisions, and at significant cost to both them and their employers. It would also hurt low-income workers, who would be required to make additional contributions during their working lives." said Morton.

He says Canadians should be encouraged to save for their retirement.

"We should be looking for the right combination of private sector delivery with public oversight and monitoring. Alberta is already working with British Columbia on harmonized pension standards legislation that will help enable the private sector to innovate and enhance the retirement savings system."

Yes, Ted, let's talk about how wonderfully the private sector has "innovated" on pension plans, shall we? Every private corporate pension plan in the country is in arrears with massive unfunded liabilities. Further, these "plans" have a nasty tendency to vaporize when the company goes bankrupt - as Nortel workers have discovered.

Then there is the practicality of putting aside enough to retire on - not many people I know have an income that enables them to pay their mortgage, raise their families _AND_ put aside the 20% of gross income that is likely needed in the face of an inadequate CPP. While from Morton's perspective (making a healthy six-figure income, no doubt), it may seem quite reasonable to put 25% of income aside in savings - I dare say that Canadians making less than that might just disagree.

I'm actually surprised to see Flaherty talking about pension reform at all. It comes completely out of left field for the most right-wing government we've ever had in Ottawa, and no doubt is another piece of the Harper "all elections, all the time" campaign machinery gearing up for a late summer or fall election call.

It's been no secret that Canada's CPP needs an overhaul. It's been bubbling about for the better part of fifteen years as an issue. With the baby boomers starting to retire, Flaherty and Harper are no doubt hoping to secure the vote of retirees with the carrot of pension reform to alleviate the belt tightening that will no doubt be necessary as people realize that their own savings aren't up to the job of carrying them through their retirement years.

Coming back to Alberta's response though, I'm actually quite annoyed with the Alberta government's out of hand dismissal. We often scoff at Quebec's seeming distance from the rest of confederation, and yet here's Alberta busy playing exactly the same game - playing the whiny, petulant child over matters where the province has to play ball with the rest of Canada.

Morton's response whiffs of an attempt to play to the so-called "libertarians" that are swinging towards the Wildrose Alliance - of whom Morton is one. His "firewall" advocacy has its roots in an attitude that government has no place in the lives of citizens - an approach that so often throws the people at the lower end of the economic scale under the proverbial bus wheels.

Yes, pension reform is going to cost money. I'd much rather see my tax dollars going into a program that I know benefits Canadians. In contrast to the billions of dollars being spent on fake lakes and "security" to isolate a bunch of politicians from any kind of opposition to their position. Whether Flaherty's proposals are what I'd like to see is another story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that the 'private sector' is also a 'for profit sector'. This means that that any private sector retirement system will be designed to generate a profit on the backs of the citizen.

Any system that utilizes private sector systems will be open to abusive restrictions, (like those found in U.S. Health Insurance) that remove your ability to collect based on a 'violation' of some arbitrary rule or 'preexisting condition'.

The federal government just blew 1.2 BILLION dollars on the G8 G20 summits. That money could have been put into the pension fund and allow to accrue interest.

Government mandated systems, such as CPP, Insurance (Health, Auto), Education, etc., should never be handled by a 'for profit, private system'.