Retirement security for all Canadians

It seems not a day goes by that I don’t hear from seniors or people on their behalf about the many challenges facing retirees in Canada. When I speak with my colleagues in the House of Commons, I see that they too are hearing more and more from seniors who are worried about their economic security. As I listen to them, I realize the issues important to seniors in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing are the same as those faced by seniors across Canada.

New Democrats have been actively involved with and on behalf of Canada’s seniors for some time now and have concrete victories to go along with a policy framework that we believe would make Canada a better place to enjoy one’s retirement in.

In 2005, New Democrats were able to get the Seniors’ Charter passed through the House of Commons. The charter was the result of much consultation with seniors, seniors’ organizations, associations, and advocates across the country, it contains five key elements: the right to income security above the poverty line; secure and affordable housing; accessible, publicly funded healthcare; opportunities for self-fulfillment and timely access to all Government services and programs.

Five years later New Democrats remain committed to the work needed to ensure Canada’s seniors - the people who built this country - can live in dignity. Our latest campaign is focused on retirement security and can be found online at www.ndp.ca/retirement. There you will find interactive pages that allow people to share their stories. You can sign-on to add your name and support the campaign for retirement security. You can also share the page with others who are concerned as well.

If you visit the site you will notice that it is not just retirees, or those who are soon to be, that are sharing their stories. There are many young people involved as well. Given the horrible failures of pension plans in recent years, we are seeing that more and more young people are worried they will never have a pension.

These people have seen how pensions go to the back of the line when companies fail. They feel this is wrong and New Democrats feel this is wrong too. We want to see pension plans and retirees at the front of the queue in those situations. But there is more we can do.

Our New Democrat Retirement Security Plan will:

· Strengthen the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans by doubling benefits to every Canadian

· Guarantee workplace pension plans through a national pension insurance program

· Lift today’s seniors out of poverty by increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

It is clear that there is a growing need to work toward more secure pensions as a method of securing the basics of a good economy. If we can’t expect a life’s work to amount to a viable and secure retirement, we have not done that well as a country after all.