Fighting for retirement equality: What women need to know

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

The second day of the Union Coalition for Free Negotiation's States-General took place in Montreal on April 27, 2015. We heard from distinguished guest speakers who introduced us to the reality of women's pensions vs. those of men. Several statistics emerged, showing realities that the majority of women may not know.


Quebec statistics in 2014 show that as the aging population increases, the percentage of women relative to men also increases; at age 80 and over, the percentage of women versus men is 63.5 per cent.

We also know that women's life expectancy is longer. They can expect to live to 86 years, about three years longer than men.

Retirement income

In 2011, 52 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men were poor enough to receive the national guaranteed income supplement. Public plans represent 32 per cent of men's income and 50 per cent of women's income, according to calculations by Quebec's Minister of Finance and Economy in 2014. The total income of men relative to women is a ratio of 59 per cent or $44,130 for men and $25,867 for women. This is understandable, because men can make higher investments with better pay than women.

Gaps that women face

Women are more likely to interrupt a job to take care of their families, which contributes to gaps in their working years. Compared to men, women reduce their work hours, take longer leaves of absence, and are more prone to quitting their job.

Moreover women are more likely to have part-time jobs that often offer smaller and fewer benefits, especially with respect to pension benefits.

Working part time, spending fewer years in the labour market and earning less pay are factors which result in women retirees having much lower benefits and smaller investment savings (with less pay they don't have the means to make as significant investments).

Finally, single women tend to build up nest eggs which are one-third smaller than the savings of women in relationships.

Special measures for women

That is why we must try to improve the situation of women in their retirement. There are special measures for women to be taken into consideration:

  • 1. Improve benefits under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement by 15 per cent.
  • 2. Restore the age of eligibility to 65 for Old Age Security (OAS).
  • 3. Increase career income earnings by 25 to 50 per cent.
  • 4. Support the implementation of proactive legislation on pay equity to reduce the wage gap between men and women.
  • 5. Increase the exemption on contributions of $3,500 to $7,000 to reduce the cost for low-wage workers and their employers.

The future

Of course these changes will not happen without action. Women must mobilize and raise awareness for their future retirement. Here is some advice:

  • 1. Start saving as soon as possible: it's important to start saving as soon as your first job. Time is on your side. You must contribute regularly, even if it requires an effort.
  • 2. It is important to contribute to your retirement savings every year or even every month.
  • 3. Plan a sum in your monthly budget based on your wage conditions, and ask a financial institution to withdraw the amount by direct debit.


Following the example of men, women should increase their knowledge of financial matters and take better care with financial matters. In particular, single women must catch up in retirement planning.

We need to address this issue. We have to talk. Mobilize. Educate our young and not-so-young working sisters. Push governments to change. In this election year, let us talk to our representatives and elect a government that will work for women.

It's important to make plan from the first job or career. Do not wait to be 50 or 60 years old to do so because there could be surprises. In our meetings with the Union Coalition of Free Negotiation, we learned that many nowadays pension plans are in trouble and pensions are no longer as guaranteed as they were before.

So it is up to us women to do something. As for myself, I'll keep fighting.

Retiree Matters is a monthly column written by members of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC) that explores issues relevant to retirees, senior citizens, their families and their communities. CURC acts as an advocacy organization to ensure that the concerns of union retirees and senior citizens are heard throughout Canada.

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.