There used to be a social contract in this country. One of the clauses in that unwritten document was,"if you work hard all your life, you can retire in comfort." But neo-conservatives have shredded that contract. Linda McQuaig writes:
The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the postwar years — has been effectively tossed aside, as corporations have become more insatiable in their demands and governments have increasingly abandoned workers.
Stephen Harper has relentlessly spearheaded the corporate agenda:
Stephen Harper’s government hiked the eligibility age for Old Age Security benefits to 67, effectively depriving all future Canadian retirees of two years of basic retirement income.
And it has steadfastly refused to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan, leaving retired Canadians with an average income of $18,000 a year in public pension benefits — far less than what a full-time minimum wage earner makes in Ontario.
The prime minister has no intention of halting the juggernaut:
And now, the Harper government is engaging in a fresh frontal assault on the retirement incomes of beleagured Canadian workers.
In what amounts to a radical overhaul, it announced last April that it intends to change long-standing legislation governing workplace pensions in ways that would allow employers (private sector and Crown corporations) to walk away from pension commitments they made to employees, even after those employees have paid into the plans throughout their working years.
All of this has been done under the radar. And the Harperites intend to keep it that way. It makes it easier to serve their clientele:
Employers now want to be able to fundamentally rewrite the terms of those workplace pension deals so that, if the market plunges and the pension fund declines, the pay-outs will be less — in effect, shifting the risk from the company to the retiree.
When it comes to new hires, many employers now offer only the new-style pensions. But the legislation proposed by Harper would create a way for employers to open up existing pension deals — effectively changing the rules in mid-stream, after workers have spent years paying into their plans.
While employees wont be able to afford retirement, CEO's will do just fine:
The Royal Bank, the country’s largest bank, switched over to the new-style pension system in 2011, so that all new employees will be obliged to face a risky pension future.
RBC CEO Gordon Nixon didn’t see the need to modify his own pension deal, however. When he retires later this week at the age of 57, he’ll receive a pension of $1.68 million a year, which will rise to an even more comfortable $2 million a year when he turns 65.
It's another example of how the champions of accountability are doing everything they can to remain unaccountable.
The new rule is: only the rich get to retire.