Federal NDP leader swings through Victoria with talk about fixing CPP

 

CINDY E. HARNETT / TIMES COLONIST 

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says Canada’s seniors are coming to retirement with not enough money to live.

The solution is strengthening the Canadian Pension Plan, Mulcair said in an interview in Victoria today before meeting with seniors at the Cook Street Activity Centre.

Mulcair is touring the area today with Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin. The NDP leader did a circuit of radio and print interviews before speaking at the activity centre.

During the noon hour he met with veterans at the Royal Canadian Legion at 622 Admirals Road.

Mulcair criticized the Stephen Harper Conservative’s plan to gradually increase Old Age Security pension eligibility to 67 from 65.

The Conservative government has suggested changes are necessary because of Canada’s aging population and to ensure the sustainability of the country’s social programs.

It is estimated that by 2036, Canada’s senior population will double to 9.8 million.

However, Mulcair said the social programs are sustainable and rather than create ill-fated or complicated new plans, Canada should make the obvious first fix and build upon the sustainable Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan.

The provinces are on side and now is the time to act, Mulcair said.

The NDP wants to expand the Canada Pension Plan through an increase in premiums and raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors living in poverty.

“We really need to reform the CPP dramatically because our children are not going to have enough money to live on our retirement with dignity,” Rankin said.

“Look at the number of people no longer on government pension plans or private pension plans or whose RRSP savings very low. You ask yourself where is the money going to be. The maximum you can make is a $1,000 a month on CPP.”

In regards to raising premiums, Rankin said it’s important to remember it’s not a tax but a savings plan.

This is the first generation in Canadian history to be earning less than the previous generation, Mulcair said. It’s the first time that only the top 20 per cent are seeing revenues increase while 80 per cent are seeing revenues drop.

“One of the things I’ve always considered about social democracy is that our basic fight is to remove inequalities in our society but now the biggest inequality is between generations so we are leaving this massive economic, environmental and social debt on the backs of the next generation,” Mulcair said.

Federal NDP leaders have trotted out the idea of raising CPP premiums for several years. However, Mulcair points out that other hardline NDP positions — such as abolishing the Senate — have now “crystalized” with the average Canadian. He expects support for strengthening of the CPP will also come to the fore as more and more seniors retire with less.

“If you’ve got a whole cohort of the baby boomers coming to retirement at the same time without enough to live on ... the ones who live the longest are going to be a charge on future generations,” Mulcair said. “And those kids are already having the largest ecological, economic and social debt dropped in their backpack by this government.”

And this will be the first generation to leave their kids less, Mulcair said.

Mulcair also attended a “packed” fundraiser Thursday night for Rankin at the Beach House on Cordova Bay Road. The NDP brand is still strong, Mulcair said.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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