Not speaking up makes us powerless

Sadly, what we deserve and what we can afford are two different issues

Over the past few weeks I have been researching the details of the pension plan offered to Canada’s retired MPs.

MP’s receive between $157,000 and $314,000 per year – the average Canadian earns $45,000. Canada’s national debt is now over $580 billion and growing.

After six years of service, retired MP’s are entitled to a pension beginning at age 55.

The average Canadian does not have a pension other than what they are able to save and the minimal government pensions.

We have seniors in our country who are going to food banks and free meal centers as they cannot pay their rent and buy food. Most worked all their lives, paid taxes and are devastated to now have to ask for help.

The average MP pension is $78,000. I have no doubt that MP’s feel that they deserve this,  and perhaps they do. Sadly, what we deserve and what we can afford are two different issues.

We cannot afford these pensions as long as the government is debating whether or not to raise the level of eligibility to 67 from 65 to save money.

Not as long as we have hard working Canadians who have reached their senior years and now struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. If these people had received between $157,000 and $314,000 per year, they could have been able to set aside a retirement fund. Instead they worked for $45,000 and struggled to raise their families while paying taxes.

MP’s pension plans are banked not invested. MP’s pension plan is government regulated to grow at a rate of 10.4 per cent per year. If the interest rate does not generate this growth, the Canadian people top it up to make sure it reaches its 10.4 per cent mandate.

Canadians who are lucky enough to have a workplace pension plan are tied to the growth or decline of their pension’s investments. The average pension plan has decreased approximately 20 per cent in this latest economic decline. Seniors who have invested with the plan of living off of the interest from their investments are struggling to get by with record low returns.

The government’s proposed review of the MP pension plan is to be headed by Tony Clement, a long-time Conservative and future recipient of the gold plated pension plan.

You may  remember Clement from the questions regarding the $50 million spent for the G8 summit, most of which ended up in his riding for projects that would require some mental gymnastics to see the relationship between the summit and the way the money was spent. He has yet to fully discuss this issue. Is this the person we trust to arrive at an objective, fair conclusion?

Please don’t hold back your opinion and feel powerless. That feeling is what makes us powerless. If everyone who felt as I do called or emailed their MP and expressed their concerns, they would need to take our concerns seriously. If everyone who felt as I do printed out a petition requesting an independent review and got at least 25 people to sign it their MP would be required to present it in the House of Commons.

Andree D’Andrea

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