Today marks the one-year anniversary of the introduction and first reading of Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Since last year, in opposition to the bill, many people, including Canadian Media Guild (CMG) members, have sent letters, emails and postcards to our members of parliament, Minister Morneau, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
CMG has recently been informed that Bill C-27 is still waiting to be scheduled for second reading in the House of Commons as possible amendments to the legislation are being considered.
CMG is instead calling for the complete and immediate withdrawal of Bill C-27.
In May, as part of the Finance Minister’s consultation on Bill C-27, we filed a brief with the finance minister, emphasizing the importance of defined benefit (DB) pension plans and outlining the fundamental difficulties presented by Bill C-27.
Defined benefit pensions are a part of a full compensation package that workers negotiate. These pensions represent valuable savings and deferred wages and should not be undermined.
The government should instead work to strengthen defined benefit pension plans and ensure more Canadians have access to a secure and decent retirement.
Bill C-27, which undermines the security of DB plans, must be immediately withdrawn, because:
Defined benefit pensions are the best pensions available for workers
Bill C-27 invites employers to undermine these kinds of plans. It is precisely their reliability and stability that confirms defined benefit pension plans as a humane pension option. They offer the security of a regular monthly income rather than relying on savings. Members don’t have to worry about making investment decisions or tracking investments because a highly qualified investment professional is doing that for them. Most importantly, members know what amount of benefit they are going to receive on retirement.
Women have the most to lose from Bill C-27
Even while women in Canada have faced greater risks of poverty in old age, this risk has been mitigated by women also tending to participate in defined benefit pension plans at a higher rate than men.
With women participating at a higher rate, women will also be most adversely affected if DB pension plans are eroded going forward, as proposed by Bill C-27. It seems likely that the risk to women in Canada of experiencing poverty in old age would correspondingly rise.
We must ensure fairness for new hires and younger workers
Workers of all ages need stable and secure retirement plans. Bill C-27 encourages discrimination against younger workers and other newer labour force entrants by facilitating two-tier pension plans. This also has the effect of eroding DB plans by reducing the new entrants to the plan which means these plans have waning financial support. As well, the creation of two plans, one inferior, drives inequality.
We have been speaking with fellow labour movement members and groups such as retiree associations. We are concerned about the potential impact of Bill C-27 on the pensions of current employees, retirees, and future generations of workers.
Along with other unions at CBC/Radio-Canada, we will also keep the security of employee pensions on the agenda at the Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits (CCSB) meetings, and in other discussions with the employer.
Jonathan Spence CBC Branch President, Canadian Media Guild
Kamala Rao National President, Canadian Media Guild