The Association of Canadian Financial Officers (ACFO) joined with the 17 other unions representing Canada’s Public Service in starting a national debate on pension reforms so every Canadian can retire knowing their golden years are safe. The debate was sparked by an inaccurate white paper on pensions from the C.D. Howe Institute that suggests to the federal government that it consider making cuts to Public Service pensions.

President says it is time to focus on CPP reforms OTTAWA – The C.D. Howe Institute’s white paper on pensions is somewhat misleading and allows the government to find a convenient scapegoat (bureaucrats) instead of focusing on needed reforms to the Canadian pension system including the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) said Milt Isaacs, President of the Association of Canadian Financial Officers (ACFO). The Association represents Financial Officers in the Federal Public Service. A number of major issues are conveniently hidden or not addressed in the report:

  • The fact that the plan was so healthy in the 1990’s that the government did not pay its share of contributions to the plan for a number of years.
  • The government decided that it could use the $33 billion surplus of the fund in the 1990’s, an issue still before the courts.

Isaacs asserts that the government needs to start working on pension reform. “A number of companies have gone bankrupt and left thousands of Canadians in the cold. The latest and very public example was Nortel where management gave themselves bonuses and their employees’ pensions were decimated. Pension reform is essential. That’s what Canadians expect from this government. Not using scapegoats and incomplete and flawed reports to create an issue that doesn’t exist.” “Unions have been at the forefront of numerous social changes that have benefited Canadians from all walks of life,” mentions Isaacs. “From movements on health-care benefits, child labour laws and hours of work, unions have been working towards improvements not just for its members but Canadian citizens. We have to do the same today with pensions. Unions have an inherent social responsibility that reaches well outside its membership.” Public servants serve the public. That is their role. They work on economic stimulus programs to create jobs, respond to pandemic threats, develop responses and programs dealing with international crises such as Haiti, and many other things essential for Canadians. We need to attract and retain professionally qualified and talented Canadians into the Public Service and one of the incentives in attracting them are the pension benefits. Attacking public servants’ benefits is something that has been used for years to hide the real issues that plague governments. Canadians are aware of these tactics. They are expecting something more from this government such as real action, real change and real benefits.