Seniors issues and pensions

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OTTAWA— Canada’s pension system needs urgent attention, says a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The report, by CCPA Research Associate and pension expert Monica Townson, outlines some of the problems with Canada’s pension system and examines some of the options that have been proposed to deal with them. “Public pension programs such as Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan provide only a modest income for people when they retire,” says Townson.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a big Canadian pensions debate, centred mainly on the issue of how to address the then pressing problem of poverty and income security in old age. Launched by the NDP, the labour movement and progressive Liberals like Tom Kent, it resulted in the launching of the contributory CPP/QPP and the improvement of the Old Age Security/ Guaranteed Income Supplement.
OTTAWA—As the leading edge of the baby boom generation reaches its late 50s, concern is growing about labour shortages and the affordability of pension programs. Governments are abolishing mandatory retirement, abandoning early retirement incentives, and considering raising the age of eligibility for public pensions. As a result, Canadians may be forced to go on working as they grow older—whether they want to or not, says a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
We Canadians like to think that we play a benevolent role in the world as humanitarians and peacemakers. But is this impression always accurate?
George W. Bush has made the privatization of the U.S. public pension system the legacy issue of his second term. He has warned that Social Security (the equivalent of our Canada Pension Plan) is headed toward bankruptcy, and pledged to begin dismantling it by creating individual retirement accounts for younger workers, instead of guaranteed public pensions.
Will privatizing public pension plans spell disaster for the elderly, or is it a bold idea for coping with rising costs? Major changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) were made in 1998. Most likely on future agendas will be the abolition of the CPP and its replacement with a system of mandatory RRSPs. Monica Townson looks at the forces behind this push to privatize public pensions and examines countries where privatization has already taken place. 
The billions of dollars in Canadian pension funds belong to the workers for whom these funds were established. The money, in effect, is their "deferred wages," but, even though these vast sums now constitute the largest source of capital in the country, it has only been in the past few decades that workers, through their unions, have started to play a role in how, when, and where their pension money is invested.

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