Over the past several weeks, the House of Commons Finance Committee has travelled from coast-to-coast hosting consultations for the 2019 Federal Budget. Since the consultation process began in August, over 700 Federal Retirees members and supporters have made submissions, both online and in person, to their local Members of Parliament demanding that the Association’s priorities be included in next year’s budget.
The tour kicked off in Ottawa in late September, with Federal Retirees Vice-President Roy Goodall and District Director Alain Trépanier making some of the first in-person presentations to the committee. Also in Ottawa, local member Jean-Pierre DeBeaumont spoke up to highlight the need to resolve the ongoing Phoenix pay system crisis. DeBeaumont noted his experience with the Canada Revenue Agency asking him to repay thousands of dollars as a result the challenges he faced with Phoenix and urged the committee to ensure that the situation is resolved as quickly as possible.
On National Seniors Day in Charlottetown, Advocacy Program Officer Shirley Pierce urged the federal government to lead the implementation of a National Seniors Strategy, arguing “this must include taking action on improving senior-focused home and community care, developing and promoting age-friendly community principles, increasing support for caregivers, and combatting isolation and ageism.”
In Victoria, on behalf of her local branch, Patricia Baye reinforced Pierce’s statements. “As a seniors group, we would like to look after not just seniors from our group but also all Canadian seniors. We would like the committee to consider having a comprehensive National Seniors Strategy for the provinces and territories.”
In Saint John, New Brunswick, local branch President Lorraine Scott asked the committee to focus on improved retirement income security, asking for Bill C-27 to withdrawn. In Quebec City, local branch Vice-President Serge Boisseau echoed the call for improved retirement security. “The first step in that direction would be the immediate withdrawal of Bill C-27, which enables employers to break pension-related promises to their employees,” said Boisseau. “The defined benefit pension plan is the most effective way of ensuring retirement security.”
At the committee’s final tour stop in Winnipeg, Advocacy Program Officer Gerry Jennings continued to the conversation on Bill C-27, demanding its withdrawal:
“Canadian seniors are living longer than ever before and are on course to reach 25% of Canada's population by 2030. Defined pension benefits are the most effective means of achieving retirement income security. Retirees with defined pension plans are less likely to rely on government assistance, such as guaranteed income supplements.
“A barrier to retirement security is House of Commons Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985. Bill C-27 will enable defined benefit pension plans to be replaced by targeted benefit plans. Defined benefit pension plans invest in Canadian equities, real estate and infrastructure such as railways, bridges, airports, utilities and pipelines. Pension funds are uniquely poised to invest in Canada and Canada's Infrastructure Bank.
The National Association of Federal Retirees asks the government to withdraw Bill C-27 to ensure that Canadian retirees continue to contribute to our economy and economic growth and not become a burden upon it.”
In response to Jennings’ submission, Finance Committee Chair MP Wayne Easter noted having heard the message loud and clear, saying “You’re not the only one who’s said that this week.”
While the Finance Committee’s tour has come to an end, Federal Retirees has continued to advocate for our 2019 budget priorities. Members and supporters continue to email their local Members of Parliament, and President Jean-Guy Soulière continues to meet with MPs and senators on Parliament Hill.
“Federal Retirees have already made an impact on the consultation process for the 2019 federal budget. The budget is expected in early 2019, so we still have several weeks to continue to make an impact,” said Sayward Montague, Director of Advocacy, who has been also meeting with MPs in Ottawa.
“With the next election scheduled to happen in less than a year, now is the time to stand up and speak up. Together, we can ensure that the needs of seniors and retirees are given the consideration they deserve.”
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