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Provinces Must Stand Up to Ottawa on CPP

CLC says Conservatives trying to sabotage talks

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/17/12 -- The President of the Canadian Labour Congress says that provincial and territorial Finance Ministers' meeting near Ottawa cannot allow the federal government to sabotage discussions aimed at improving the Canada Pension Plan.

"We have a pensions crisis in Canada and it is getting worse because people are not able to save enough for retirement," Georgetti says. "The Finance Ministers have been talking about this for years now and most provinces agree that the best way forward is to improve the Canada Pension Plan, but every time they get close to an agreement the Conservative government tries to sabotage the deal. The provincial and territorial ministers cannot let them get away with this. They have to stand up for Canadians."

Georgetti was responding to developments just prior to the Finance Ministers' meeting near Ottawa. Last summer Canada's premiers and territorial leaders asked that Finance Ministers present options for "modest enhancements" to the CPP. That material has been prepared and media reports indicate that officials have provided a series of affordable options for enhancing the CPP.

"Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is now saying that the economy is too fragile to consider even a modest increase in CPP contributions that would allow us to improve benefits to future retirees," Georgetti says. "He is also saying that there has to be unanimous approval from the provinces before they can move on the CPP. Both of these claims are false."

Georgetti says the convention is that two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the Canadian population would have to approve changes to the CPP. "Regarding the timing of improving the CPP, I would ask Mr. Flaherty, if not now, when?"

Georgetti adds that 60 per cent of workers have no workplace pension, while one-third of Canadians between the ages of 24 and 64 have no personal retirement savings. "There is a growing urgency about pensions. If the government will not allow workers and their employers to provide for decent pensions through the CPP, future taxpayers will have to spend billions of dollars more than they do now in social programs for retirees who will be living in poverty."

Georgetti says that the government has provided billions in tax breaks for business. "Those companies can afford to spend the added pennies per hour it will take to improve the CPP and assure that their workers can live in dignity in retirement. Seniors with a better income will spend that money in the economy and that will be good for everyone."

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour.

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