Many retirees have found out that the pension they earned over decades of contributions to plans turned out to be less secure than they had assumed. In cases of bankruptcy such as Nortel, this has been a harsh reality for some seniors. Those who had participated in defined contribution plans found their dreams undermined when the stock market tanked in 2008. Even those in large pension plans such as the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) have been faced not only with increased contribution rates but also stories of huge shortfalls in the pension fund.
Canada's financial system emerged from the global crisis in better shape than in many other countries. Canadian banks avoided the all-out panic that struck some jurisdictions. It's a myth that Canadian banks stood on their own two feet right through the crisis; they received important and timely liquidity assistance from government agencies during the worst months of the meltdown (through a C$200-billion "Extraordinary Financing Framework"). But no bank failed or was taken over by the state. This relative (imperfect) stability has been important to Canada's partial economic recovery since the crisis.
Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper are worried about America heading off towards the "fiscal cliff". They do not seem ashamed that Conservatives' spending cuts propel Canada in the same direction.
Most agree the U.S. must address impending increases in taxes and cuts to spending in order to prevent a further fall into recession. The fiscal cliff looms because spending cuts and tax increases are scheduled to happen automatically before January (when the old Congress is replaced) unless the President and the lame duck Congress can agree to act.
Concerned about the increasing frequency of banking crises? Don't worry. Bad things can't happen to banks in Canada.
Certainly we are not Spain. Or Iceland. Or Ireland. Well, let's just say Europe more generally over recent years. Or, come to think about it, the USA with its subprime crisis and its major banks on the rails in the 2008 financial crisis.
Canada is smarter than all those other countries. Canadian banks are just better behaved than banks elsewhere, and in any case the extraordinary vigilance of Canadian banking regulators will protect us.