Gov't keeps pension hearings a secret to avoid backlash

OTTAWA, April 8 /CNW Telbec/ - One of Canada' largest unions says the Department of Finance is keeping the dates of their pension consultations a secret to avoid a backlash from Canadians on the government's lack of action.

"Canadians, are worried about their retirement savings and these hearings were supposed to give them a chance to voice their concerns," says Communications, Energy and Paperworkers President Dave Coles, whose union represents many workers whose pensions are at risk because of Canada's bankruptcy legislation. "But that's pretty difficult when the hearing dates are being kept a secret."

"For the second time in a year, the Conservatives are claiming to consult Canadians on pension reform," says Coles.

"Last Spring when Parliamentary Secretary Ted Menzies chaired a similar consultation process, the overwhelming message from Canadians was to change the retirement income system - to double the amount of CPP. But the Conservative government sat on its hands," says Coles.

"They're afraid of getting the same message they got last time, so this time they're holding meetings by stealth."

Coles says forestry workers and others who wanted to participate in the Charlottetown consultation earlier this week tried in vain to find out when it would be held. An e-mail from the Department of Finance read: "...The uncertain parliamentary calendar does not allow us to lock down a schedule in advance while the House is sitting."

At the eleventh hour, (last Saturday) a notice appeared in the Charlottetown local paper announcing that a meeting with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty would be held the following Tuesday.

Hearing dates for this month's meetings in the other two cities - Quebec City and Richmond, BC - are also still not available.

SOURCE Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

For further information: For further information: Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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