Stephen Harper continues to attack working people

Ottawa – August 12, 2014 – Since Stephen Harper's Conservative Party formed a majority government in 2011, Canadians have witnessed an attack on seniors and the middle class the likes of which we've never seen before.

Harper continues to give tax breaks to his corporate buddies at the expense of hard-working men and women and their families. He has increased the retirement age of working Canadians by raising the eligibility age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 years old. Not only will this force Canadians to work longer, and deprive them of two years of basic retirement income, but it will also keep younger Canadians out of the workforce.

Harper and his government have also refused to increase Canada Pension Plan benefits, which would ensure that future generations of Canadians will be able to retire with dignity and economic security. These actions by Conservative Boss Harper and his government are well documented. But recently, the Harperites proposed legislation that would allow Crown corporations and federally-regulated employers in the private sector to walk away from pension commitments made to their employees.

Many employers now want to rewrite the terms of workplace pension agreements so that if the stock market plunges and their pension fund declines, they can reduce payouts to workers and shift the risk of market volatilities from the company to its retirees. The legislation being proposed by Harper and his cronies would enable employers to open up existing pension deals and change the rules of their obligations under the plans mid-stream.

While workers in this country continue to suffer from the recession of 2008, corporate Canada has made a stunning comeback with a dramatic increase in profits and over $630 billion in cash holdings. But companies refuse to invest this money to get Canadians working again.   

While the changes that Harper is proposing would have a direct effect on hundreds of thousands of working Canadians, they would have little if any impact on corporate elites who continue to collect comfortable pensions. One example is the recently-retired CEO of RBC, Gordon Nixon. In 2011, the company changed its pension system so that all new employees would face a much riskier retirement. Mr. Nixon retired in July 2014 but didn’t see the need to amend his pension deal. He retired with a pension of $1.68 million per year, which will increase to $2 million a year when he turns 65 in eight years.

Stephen Harper can relate much more to the former CEO of RBC than he can to middle class, working Canadians. If Harper were to retire in 2015, he would receive a lifetime pension of $5,456,109, all of which would be paid for by Canadian taxpayers. We cannot allow the Conservatives to keep attacking working Canadians: we must ensure that in the 2015 federal election, Harper and his team will be forced into retirement after we elect an NDP government that works for all Canadians.