Labour Views – September 16, 2015

Written by Jack Bourassa, PSAC Regional Executive Vice President, North (REVP North)

Life just doesn’t seem as simple as it used to be. There was a time when you could find a good, solid job, work hard your whole life and rest easy at night knowing there was a reasonable pension waiting for you at the end of your decades of toil.

But that was then, this is now. More than ever, Canadians are struggling to find quality jobs, and they’re worried that they won’t be able to support themselves in retirement.

The number of seniors living in poverty is on the rise, and as older workers get close to retirement age, many fear they won’t have enough money saved to make ends meet. For some, their pension plans are being cut at work. Others are realizing that the Canadian Pension Plan simply doesn’t cover their modest living expenses.

That’s why the Canadian Labour Congress, along with grassroots movements across Canada, are calling on the federal election candidates to approve a small increase in Canada Pension Plan contributions to take the load off seniors. For less than a cup of coffee and a donut a day, the CLC says, the average worker could double their CPP benefits at retirement.

It really seems like a no-brainer. Baby boomers are about to retire in unprecedented numbers, and the federal government seems content to ignore the growing crisis.

The CPP benefits everyone across all job sectors in Canada, especially the 11 million Canadians who don’t have a workplace pension and are the hardest hit upon retirement. The plan is also extremely effective, keeping up with the cost of living and paying out benefits until death.

But to bolster any retirement plan, it’s also crucial to start off on the right foot with one of those good, solid jobs we mentioned before.

And that’s no simple matter, either. Because of our shifting and unsteady economy, 2.8 million Canadians have been left unemployed or underemployed. The jobs we’ve been creating lately have been shaky – almost three quarters of the new jobs in the last six years have been part-time, temporary or in the self-employed sector. Few people have a job for life these days. In fact, nearly a million Canadians have to work multiple jobs just to support themselves.

Our younger Canadians are often the hardest hit, as they struggle with double the national unemployment rate.

The CLC is advocating for our federal leaders to move away from an economy rooted in volatile fossil fuels, and to instead focus on a low carbon economy that would create tens of thousands of quality jobs, not to mention boosting the manufacturing sector and help fight climate change.

We also need to invest in better rapid transit for our cities, to cut down on vehicle emissions, create thousands of local manufacturing jobs and decrease commute times.

It’s also important that working Canadians have the training and experience they need, especially for health care professionals, who will take care of our aging population. We need to invest in infrastructure and public services, like waste water systems, and protect our much-needed federal services for veterans and seniors.

Investing in our seniors and in good jobs are two prongs on the Holy Grail of strong, vibrant communities.

We need to make sure we elect federal leaders who make these issues their top priorities.