NDP critic gauging pension concerns

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There is a crisis in retirement security, says federal NDP pensions critic Murray Rankin, who is visiting St. John’s today.

Rankin met with federal and provincial public sector pensioners groups and other organizations, such the Canadian Association of Retired Pensioners this morning.

He said the meetings validated an NDP push for pension reform, including revoking the decision by the federal Conservatives to up the retirement age from 65 to 67 and increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) rate to take seniors out of poverty.

The party also wants to change the system of indexing the GIS to include seniors’ spending on fuel and utilities in the consumer index.

And he said it’s crucial that the Canada Pension Plan be reformed to ensure future generations have access to it and to ensure there is a decent standard of living for the middle class who can’t afford to contribute to other retirement savings plans because of the cost of living. Otherwise, Rankin said the economy will suffer if seniors have no spending power.

He said the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has done a good job of managing it over recent years and phasing in increases in premiums at a moderate rate won’t place hardship on employers and employees, but would double the Canada Pension Plan and expand its reach.

“It’s not about the deficit and hurting the economy,” Rankin said.

He said in one sense this province shares similar pension concerns with others, but housing affordability and cost of living is making the problem even more acute here.

“You have such inflation here,” Rankin said, adding the NDP federally is lobbying for a housing strategy.

Rankin said it’s also important that bankruptcy laws be reformed to move company pension plans higher on the list of creditors.

The Victoria MP will join local MPs Ryan Cleary and Jack Harris at a town hall tonight from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1, 57 Blackmarsh Rd.

Rankin said he’s compiling feedback at stops across the country in order to inform NDP platform on pension issues.

Organizations: NDP, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Canadian Association of Retired Pensioners Conservatives Royal Canadian Legion

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