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Councillor calls for expanded pensions

Apr 07 2012

Canadians' pensions should be bolstered, says Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto.

Alto wants council to follow other municipalities in calling on the federal government to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement by 15 per cent and introduce a federal system of pension insurance.

She would also like to see national public consultation on pensions and expansion of the Canada Pension Plan.

The motion comes after the federal government announced an increase in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security to 67 from 65. The change will affect Canadians under the age of 54.

"When the federal budget came down, it seemed kind of timely to bring it forward," Alto said this week. "For me, it was a signal that a couple of things aren't being considered here."

Alto said Victoria's high number of seniors will likely continue to increase as more boomers retire here.

"I think we tend to overlook the notion of seniors as really active participants in the economy," she said. Seniors represent a valuable community asset as volunteers and mentors, "but that only is allowable if they have a reasonable income on which to rely."

A background report notes that municipalities are responsible for providing a wide range of services to seniors, including transit, libraries, and cultural and recreation facilities, and that pressures on municipalities arising from an aging population could be reduced if seniors had better pensions.

"Increased CPP benefits come at no extra cost to municipal governments that already have good pension plans, as we have in the City of Victoria," the report says. "Most public sector plans are integrated with the CPP, so CPP benefits are included as part of the replacement income which the defined-benefit plan is designed to replace. As CPP is expanded, employer contributions to a plan could be scaled back as employees received a better benefit at lower cost from the CPP."

Cities that have endorsed similar resolutions include Guysborough, N.S., Richmond, N.S., Ottawa, Oshawa, Ont., and Belleville, Ont.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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