26,000 small business owners call for public sector pension fairness

Fix public sector pensions before OAS

TORONTO, Feb. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - In one of the fastest growing campaigns ever launched by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), over 26,000 small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have signed petitions calling for fairness in Canada's public sector pension system.  Today, CFIB is delivering these "action alerts" to MPs in Ottawa.

"Canada's public sector retirement system is in terrible shape and action is needed now to fix it," said Dan Kelly, CFIB's senior vice-president in Ottawa.  "In recent meetings with Prime Minister Harper, Finance Minister Flaherty and Treasury Board President Clement, CFIB has asked government to work quickly to ensure that public sector pensions - starting with MP pensions - are both sustainable and fair to taxpayers.  Right now, public sector pensions fail both tests."

Sustainability: Estimates of the size of the main federal public sector pension liability range from $150 to $230 billion. This does not include MPs, judges, Canada Post or other Crown Corporations. "Bills for underfunded pensions are coming due in Europe and the US, requiring tax hikes and cuts in benefits to current and future retirees," Kelly noted.  "Canada can and should do better."

Fairness:  In Ottawa, civil servants have access to one of the best pension plans in the country, but contribute just over one-third of the pensions costs with taxpayers picking up the rest.  In addition, civil servants can retire on a full pension at a much younger age than taxpayers.  Government policies actually encourage civil servants to retire early by topping up pensions to cover off the CPP/QPP penalty that other Canadians would incur if they retired before 65.

"CFIB is not calling on governments to remove any pension benefits that have already been earned by retirees or active civil servants," Kelly said, "but we are asking government to ensure all of its employees pay half of their pensions and become eligible to retire at the same age as the taxpayers who pay their salaries.  MPs too have an important leadership role in reducing the generosity of their own "platinum" pension plan to give them the legitimacy to address the much larger issue of public sector pensions," Kelly added.

CFIB urges government to fix public sector pensions before considering any changes to retirement programs for taxpayers.  "To ask taxpayers to wait until 67 to collect Old Age Security (OAS) while government employees can retire at 55 is just not on," Kelly said.  Governments need to address political and civil service pension schemes before any changes to OAS or CPP/QPP are contemplated," Kelly concluded.

As Canada's largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 108,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.

SOURCE CANADIAN FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

For further information:

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dan Kelly, contact Gisele Lumsden at 416 222-8022 or email public.affairs@cfib.ca

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CANADIAN FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

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