Crav­ing jus­tice, pen­sion­ers push back

ZOOMER Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - By Wanda Mor­ris HEN I WAS

Crav­ing Jus­tice

Wre­cruited to join CARP two years ago, some peo­ple warned me off. They said CARP was just a ben­e­fits or­ga­ni­za­tion and that our mem­bers weren’t ac­tively en­gaged in ad­vo­cacy. Of course, that’s dis­proven by the im­pres­sive list of re­cent vic­to­ries, such as an en­hanced Canada Pen­sion Plan, $5 bil­lion for im­proved home care and roll­back of OAS el­i­gi­bil­ity to age 65. But most re­cently, it’s our CARP mem­bers’ re­ac­tion to the plight of Sears’ pen­sion­ers that puts that myth to rest.

Our mem­bers were hor­ri­fied to learn that our cur­rent laws are bro­ken; that cur­rent pen­sion and in­sol­vency leg­is­la­tion was used to ex­ploit pen­sion­ers in­stead of pro­tect­ing them. Sears Canada was stripped of as­sets in or­der to pay out $1.5 bil­lion in div­i­dends and ex­ec­u­tive bonuses, while un­der­fund­ing its pen­sion obli­ga­tions by $267 mil­lion – en­tirely legally.

In re­sponse, CARP cir­cu­lated a pe­ti­tion that re­ceived more than 28,000 sig­na­tures and held a lobby day on Par­lia­ment Hill, tar­get­ing crit­i­cal pol­icy-mak­ers. But with no re­sult­ing prom­ise of ac­tion from the gov­ern­ment, we knew we needed to do more.

On Feb. 21, CARP and our coali­tion part­ners held a Na­tional Day of Ac­tion to Pro­tect Pen­sions. We or­ga­nized 92 meet­ings and events across the coun­try that day and in the days that fol­lowed. We met di­rectly with more than 60 MPs. Where face-to-face meet­ings were not pos­si­ble, we pre­sented our case for change as well as our pe­ti­tion to of­fice staff.

Well, we cer­tainly got the gov­ern­ment’s at­ten­tion! Par­lia­ment Hill was buzzing with talk of all the con­stituents who vis­ited lo­cal of­fices. Then, the fed­eral bud­get in­cluded an ac­knowl­edge­ment of pen­sion se­cu­rity prob­lems–clearly,alatead­di­tion­that points to the im­pact of our ac­tivism – andwe­knowthatMPsare­con­tin­u­ing to bring up this is­sue in cau­cus.

In the bud­get, the gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted to seek feed­back. We have con­vened a panel of ex­perts to pro­vide the ev­i­dence-based in­for­ma­tion they need and are urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to re­port to Cabi­net by June 30.

Peo­ple who spent ca­reers con­tribut­ing money and ef­fort to build pen­sion funds should no longer lose re­tire­ment se­cu­rity through le­gal ex­ploita­tion. They need gov­ern­ment ac­tion now be­fore the next Searstype bankruptcy comes along. We won’t let up the pres­sure un­til that ac­tion is de­liv­ered.

Of course, pen­sion pro­tec­tion isn’t the only is­sue we are tack­ling at CARP. We are also work­ing for RRIF re­form and on se­niors’ home­less­ness and the safety of res­i­dents in longterm care, to name but a few.

No­ne­ofthis­would­be­pos­si­ble­with­out your sup­port. To­gether, we can con­tinue to fight for a Canada where ev­ery­one has ap­pro­pri­ate health care and fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity and is treated with dig­nity and re­spect, re­gard­less of their age, their health or their fi­nances.

Help CARP keep the pres­sure on, go to­sion­ers to learn more and get in­volved.

Pro­test­ers across Canada joined CARP’s Na­tional Day of Ac­tion for Pen­sion­ers. Here, mem­bers gather out­side the of­fice of MP Ka­rina Gould in Burling­ton, Ont.Wanda Mor­ris is VP of Ad­vo­cacy at CARP and writes a weekly Post Me­dia col­umn “Grey Mat­ters.” You can find them at CARP is a na­tional not-for-profit, non-par­ti­san as­so­ci­a­tion com­mit­ted to ad­vanc­ing the qual­ity of life for Cana­di­ans as they age. To be­come a mem­ber, call 1-833-211-2277 or go to

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