Latest Pension Issues
BigBlue Pensioners Association (BPA)
October 2019 Update on Pension Security
Veuillez voir les commentaires à la fin sur la disponibilité d'une version française.
Federal Election – Monday, October 21
IN THIS ISSUE – What you should know before you vote:
- Recent Changes made by parties to their platforms on pension security
- Re-Evaluations of party records and platforms on pension security
- Why a minority government is the best outcome for pensioners
- Strategic Voting Option – to seek a pensioner-friendly government
Recent Changes to Party Platforms on Pension Security
- Liberal Party – No significant changes – remains poor
- Conservative Party – No significant changes – remains poor
- NDP – No significant changes – remains very good
- Green Party – Significant improvements – see below
- Bloc Quebecois – Significant improvements – see below
Party Evaluation Criteria
The following scale is used to evaluate each party:
A: A record of advancing pension protection legislation and including it in its platform.
B: A record of advancing pension protection but not including it in its platform.
C: A minimal record on pension protection and no inclusion in its platform
D: No record of pension protection and no inclusion in its platform.
F: A record of rejecting effective pension protection legislation and proposing legislation which is detrimental to pension protection.
Re-Evaluations of Party Record/Platform on Pension Security
- Liberal Party: F (unchanged)
- Conservative Party: F (unchanged)
- NDP Party: A (unchanged)
- Green Party: A-minus (revised)
- Bloc Quebecois Party: A-minus (revised)
Recap: Rationale/Summary for Party Evaluations on Pension Security
Liberal Party: F
The Liberal Government rejected the reasonable measures recommended by pensioner organizations. – Super-priority for pensioners in corporate bankruptcy and a National Pension Insurance Plan.
The Liberal Government tried to pass legislation negative to pensioners – but failed. Bill C-27 (Target Benefit Pensions) would have allowed federally-regulated employers to replace Defined Benefit Pension Plans with Target Benefit Plans – thus allowing the reduction of pensions (even in the absence of a bankruptcy).
Pensioners have no reason to believe the Liberal Party, if re-elected to a majority government, would implement meaningful pension protection. Instead pensioners should be concerned that a Liberal majority government would pass legislation negative to the security of pensions.
Conservative Party: F
The Conservative Party declined to support the reasonable measures recommended by pensioner organizations – Super-priority for pensioners in corporate bankruptcy and a National Pension Insurance Plan.
A Conservative MP moved private member’s Bill C-405 – which proposed to allow federally-regulated employers to replace Defined Benefit Pension Plans with Target Benefit Plans – thus allowing the reduction of pensions even in the absence of a bankruptcy – and also to allow distressed companies to offer ten-fold increases in retention bonuses for its Executives. Subsequently the Conservative Party extolled Bill C-405 in emails/letters to pensioners who advocated for pension protection.
Pensioners have no reason to believe the Conservative Party, if elected to a majority government, would implement meaningful pension protection. Instead pensioners should be concerned that a Conservative majority government would pass legislation negative to the security of pensions.
New Democratic Party: A
The NDP, via private member’s bill C-384 moved by NDP MP Scott Duvall, indicated its support of Super- for pensioners in corporate bankruptcy. C-384 did not reach the floor of the Commons for debate and vote.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, both in communications to concerned pensioner organizations and included in the NDP platform: ”… we will make sure that pensioners are at the front of the line when a company goes bankrupt – making sure unfunded pension liabilities owed to workers, and employees’ severance pay, are the top priority for repayment …. and we’ll create a mandatory, industry financed pension insurance program to make sure that no worker is deprived of the retirement benefits they’ve earned.”
If the election results in a minority government with the participation of the NDP, pensioners have reason to believe the NDP would seek to implement meaningful pension protection.
Green Party: (revised to) A-minus
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May voted against the unfavourable Bill C-405.
NEW - The Green Party has recently included Super-priority in its platform:
“A Green government will also develop a National Seniors Strategy with the following priorities: …. Protect private pensions by amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to establish the pre-eminence of pensioners and the pension plan in the creditor hierarchy during company insolvency proceedings.”
If the election results in a minority government with the participation of the Green Party, pensioners now have reason to believe the Green Party would seek to implement meaningful pension protection.
Bloc Quebecois: (revised to) A-minus
The Bloc, via private member’s bill C-372 moved by Bloc MP Marilène Gill, indicated its support of Super-priority for pensioners in corporate bankruptcy. Bill C-372 was debated but not voted on. In debate, it was supported by both Bloc and NDP MPs.
NEW - The Bloc has included Super-priority in its platform:
“Les travailleuses et travailleurs du Québec méritent de profiter de leur retraite en sécurité. Le Bloc continuera de travailler à faire des caisses de retraite des créanciers prioritaires en cas de faillite d’une entreprise.”
Translation: “Quebec workers deserve to enjoy their retirement safely. The Bloc will continue to work to make pension funds priority creditors, when a company goes bankrupt.”
If the election results in a minority government, it seems unlikely that the Bloc would be a participant in government – and hence not have an ability to prompt a government Bill on pension protection. However, its promise above indicates that Bloc MPs would support a pension protection Bill of another party.
Best Outcome for Pensioners: Minority Government
Opinion polls indicate that only two parties – the Liberals and the Conservatives - have a reasonable chance to form a majority government.
If either of those parties forms a majority government to govern for the next four years, pensioners would have two concerns:
- Neither would legislate the reasonable measures proposed by pensioner organizations: Super-priority and National Pension Insurance.
- Both would be susceptible to lobbying by pension industry organizations for negative measures such as Target Benefit Pension plans.
Target Benefit pension plans feature flexible benefits - if the plan’s investment returns are insufficient, pensions can be reduced.
If new (federal and provincial) legislation includes a process to convert your Defined Benefit plan to a Target Benefit plan, your pension could be reduced.
Plan sponsors love Target Benefit pensions. They can reduce monthly payments to pensioners (and their pension funding obligations) without the bother of seeking creditor protection or declaring bankruptcy. For sponsors, it’s painfree. For pensioners, it’s painful.
Liberals and Conservatives have both demonstrated receptiveness to Target Benefit plan concepts. The pension industry would relish the opportunity to lobby a Majority Government of one of those parties with new Target Benefit pension plan proposals.
That’s why pensioners would be better served by a MINORITY GOVERNMENT.
STRATEGIC VOTING Option to seek a MINORITY GOVERNMENT
What is a Strategic Vote? It is a ballot cast by a voter, in an election with more than two candidates, to support a candidate other than his/her personal preference – seeking to prevent an undesirable election outcome – i.e. for pensioners: to prevent a majority government.
Surveys and exit polls confirm that strategic voting is widespread – often used by up to half of voters. Current political advertising of the form “vote for party X because party Y would be bad for Canada” demonstrates that strategic voting will be used by others in this election.
Strategic voting by groups is common. In Ontario, teacher organizations successfully use strategic voting to advance their members’ interests.
Pensioners outnumber teachers by two to one – but are just beginning to understand the two major benefits of Strategic Voting that teachers already receive. First, it may result in a government which will implement fairer policies. Second, it demonstrates pensioners’ clout and opens doors for future advocacy.
Your Personal Decision: Should YOU use strategic voting to seek a minority government in this federal election?
“Yes”: if you believe that the risk and impact of a diminished pension is an issue which is now or may be in the future of vital importance to you and/or your family - or even your fellow pensioners.
“No”: if you believe that your vote should be decided on the basis of one or more other issues; or on your confidence in a party and its leadership/candidates; or simply on your preferred outcome.
If you answered No, please be advised that the BPA understands and respects your position - feel free to skip the remainder of this Update. After the election, we’ll update you on other means to advocate for our Mission: 100% Pension Security.
If you decide to cast a strategic vote…
- Vote on election day October 21 – not at an advance poll;
- Collect as much information as possible on last-minute opinion polling and assess which party is likely to win the MOST SEATS overall in the election. Here’s one place to look: http://338canada.com/
- Assess which candidate/party in your constituency is best able to defeat the candidate of the party expected to win the most seats.
Please Note: It is preferable to elect as many MPs as possible from parties committed to pension protection, HOWEVER…
WHEN NO POSITIVELY-RATED PARTY HAS A CHANCE TO WIN IN YOUR RIDING, the following is a LAST RESORT:
- If the Liberals are projected to win the most seats overall, it may be worth considering a strategic vote for the Conservative candidate in your riding. OR
- If the Conservatives are projected to win the most seats overall, it may be worth considering a strategic vote for the Liberal candidate in your riding.
By acting in concert via Strategic Voting, pensioners may help elect a minority government – the best outcome in the current election – and gain clout in future advocacy.
BigBlue Pensioners Association – our Mission: 100% pension security.
Clout: Without disclosing your vote, would you kindly advise whether you intend to cast a strategic vote?
Directors: Darlene Adams, Bob Birk, Cliff Jenkins, Johanne L’Heureux, Jim McKenzie, Phil Mercurio, Rod Stableforth
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