A man looks over a brochures offering various retirement savings options in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

OPINION: Why is the B.C. NDP government abandoning pensioners?

Michael Powell is the president of the Canadian Federation of Pensioners

When governments have to release information they would rather not, they do it on a Friday, on a long weekend in the summer. Just like B.C.’s government did last week.

On Aug. 2, the government released, “A Review of the Solvency Funding Framework under the Pension Benefits Standards Act: Report on Stakeholder Committee Process August 2019.” Friday? Check. Long weekend in summer? Check. Under the radar? Think again.

This report recommends that the B.C. government – an NDP government – should completely alter pension regulations in favour of the pension sponsors and the pension industry. It is entirely focused on reducing sponsors’ obligations to fully fund pensions. It fails to recommend tangible solutions to protect pensioners when companies with under-funded pensions file for bankruptcy.

The government should do the right thing and follow the lead of the federal NDP, which has committed in its election platform to protect retirement savings and put employee pensions at the front of the line if a company goes bankrupt. The federal NDP is also proposing a mandatory, industry-funded pension insurance program to protect and guarantee pensions. The B.C. government should follow suit.

As we have seen from the bankruptcies of Sears, Nortel and others, the impact of insolvency on pensioners is devastating. When Canadian pensioners lose 20 per cent or more of their pension income, there are financial repercussions that impact all of us. In a conservative case, a pensioner could see a 20-per-cent reduction in income, from $30,000 to $24,000 per year, resulting in an annual tax revenue loss of $1,500 to $2,000 per pensioner.

The impact of bankruptcy and pension loss is particularly devastating in smaller communities. It can shift pensioners from leaders and volunteers to leaning on local resources for support. Pensioners contribute to their communities in many ways, particularly as volunteers. When they lose a substantial amount of their income, they cut back on community engagement or seek post-retirement employment. How can they help out at the seniors’ centre or provide transportation for medical treatment when they can’t afford the gas?

B.C.’s 170,000 defined benefit pension beneficiaries and their families should be the most important stakeholders in pension security discussions. But the report issued by the B.C. Ministry of Finance does nothing to protect them. We have seen how companies abandon pensioners, because the law allows them to do so. Pensioners, by law, cannot negotiate to improve or ensure their pensions. Governments have that responsibility.

It’s time for the B.C. government to put pensioners first. On behalf of our 250,000 members, we are calling on Premier John Horgan and his government to put aside this report and act in the best interests of pensioners.

Michael Powell is the president of the Canadian Federation of Pensioners

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Castlegar doctor’s offices remain open for phone, video and in-person appointments

Doctors concerned people may be neglecting health concerns for fear of catching the COVID-19

BRAND NAMES: Cominco, West Kootenay Power, Granby

Consolidated Mining and Smelting (CM&S) became Cominco, then Teck-Cominco, then Teck

Castlegar hospice director says COVID-19 measures make serving the dying heartbreaking

Social distancing brings big challenges to offering support

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

General exposure to public low after inmate tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The Okanagan Correctional Centre inmate is receiving appropriate care

Most Read