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January 09, 2009

NUPGE discussion paper on protecting pension plans and retirement savings

Pension plans and retirement savings must be protected

One of the key recommendations is a call for "a National Pension Reform Summit to be held in 2009 and attended by all the ministers who have legislative and regulatory responsibility for pension matters as well as the key pension stakeholders. The summit would address a range of pension issues, including the steady decline in the number of Canadian workers covered by workplace pension plans. Central to the discussion must be an expansion of our public pension system and a national legislative and regulatory framework that protects and promotes quality [defined benefit] pension plans."

It's depressing to think how many Canadians may have contributed to pension plans that could be worth little or nothing, come retirement time. What's even more shocking is to realize that we haven't had legislation on the books all this time foreseeing the possibility of a market meltdown or company closings. Pension money should always have been treated like trust money -- money that couldn't be lost or squandered because it was being managed, in trust, on behalf of someone else -- because, frankly, that's exactly what it is.

This also serves to hammer home, yet again, that Canadians can't afford the luxury of being ill-informed about any aspect of their financial lives -- especially those aspects that are entrusted to third-parties, like their employers and the government.

Finally, as the voters of today, we need to ensure that the protections are in place for all generations -- children, working adults, and seniors. After all, we will all move through all life-stages in time.

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