At the recent Convention of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, delegates heard Ed Broadbent speak on "Equality and the Importance of Unions," and we wanted to find out what their unions had meant to them. This column is the second in a series of columns based on interviews carried out at the convention by Angus Ricker.
At the recent Convention of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, delegates heard Ed Broadbent speak on "Equality and the Importance of Unions," and we wanted to find out what their unions had meant to them. This column is the first of a series based on interviews at the convention.
Joyce Kerr and Mary Riddell are both retired hospital employees from the Greater Toronto area and members of the Service Employees International Union Retirees Committee. They both knew from personal experience the difference that having a union made in their lives.
The nation’s capital will host delegates to CURC’s Eleventh Constitutional Convention Oct. 22-25. Check this page regularly for convention documents, photos and reports.
Another Labour Day has passed. Parents of young children know it as the day to get kids ready for school. Those without young kids may think of it as the last holiday of summer. But for retirees this year it was a time to reflect on what they achieved together, achievements now under attack at every turn.
In late March, I spent a few days with some other retirees at a political action conference in Toronto. We were among close to 1,500 labour activists and leaders from across Canada who spent the weekend talking about the attacks on working families in Canada and what we can do about them. Why, you ask, would retirees be interested in this? Well, when we were young our parents did not have many of the rights and benefits Canadian workers enjoy today. And during our working lives, we fought hard and long with our unions for the wages and benefits workers enjoy today, a fair share of the richness of Canada. Wages and benefits that allowed us to buy a house, take an occasional vacation, put our kids through college and university, and set aside something for retirement.
The reaction of the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation (NPSCF) to this year's federal budget is disappointment. Every year prior to the budget our executive board presents a brief in Ottawa to the government. The brief is developed from membership resolutions to our annual national convention. Seniors and retirees in clubs and provincial organizations develop these throughout the year for the convention. In our brief, we also reference global and national studies done by the United Nations, the Senate of Canada, Statistics Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, chartered banks and numerous non-governmental organizations. After all this effort by thousands of Canadians, the evidence is clear.
Canadian pensions and pension systems get widely varying report cards. For example, in the report OECD Pensions at a Glance, the authors rate Canadian pension systems (including OAS, OAP, and CPP) highly by some criteria, but poorly by others. Canadian systems work well for the disadvantaged, guaranteeing nearly 80 per cent or more of pre-retirement income for those earning half or less of the national average income. By this measure, Canada is in the top eight of the 34 OECD countries. But for Canadians making the national average wage or above, the pension replacement rate in Canada (comparing guaranteed pension income to pre-retirement income) is only about 40 per cent, compared to the OECD average of 59 per cent.
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By current standards of drug coverage, George Rozon considers himself lucky. As a long-term diabetic (Type 1), who has had heart surgery and also a kidney transplant, drugs mean life to George. After 30 years working at a cardboard box plant in Alberta, he retired early for health reasons and now, aged 59, lives in rural Nova Scotia.