View from Labour, March 20, 2009

Some large corporations are asking the Federal Government to give them relief on what they have to pay into their workers pension plans. The National Media reported this week that Companies including Air Canada, Canada Post and Nav Canada (airport workers) are lobbying the Federal Government to change the rules on federally regulated pensions. What they want is to not have to top up the pension plans in times of economic downturn. The CEOs make the point that money put into pensions can’t be used to keep the corporation operating, but we should be vigilant that any changes don’t jeopardize our pensions. If a plans’ funding goes below a certain level the Registrar of Pensions can order changes. This happened to several of the construction trades pension plans several years ago and the amount paid to existing pensioners was reduced. If you are receiving a pension that is federally regulated you should make the effort to contact the federal department of finance with your concerns. The Feds are on a cross country tour about pensions until April 17, after that it will be too late.
Those of us with provincially regulated pensions such as the Forest Industry should be equally vigilant with our government. Don’t let them give something to industry that will hurt our pensions.
Canada lost over 250,000 jobs since October of last year and the bleeding has not stopped. While much of the unemployment is unavoidable due to past practices and the so called world economy, we need Made in Canada solutions to Canadian job loss. Workers can prepare for the possibility of being out of work by using care when going into debt. The ads on TV that offer money on your home equity to do what you want now are a trap and should be banned by Government. Don’t fall for them. If you lose employment even temporarily you could lose your home. The ranks of homeless people are swelling as the unemployed rate goes up. If you are unemployed don’t fall for the ads that offer jobs after three months of training if you pay exorbitant amounts of money to a private college. The Provincial Government should regulate Private Colleges. Presently they are self regulated. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Where is the Federal Government in all this? They are sitting on $billions in surplus funds in the EI Account and slushing it off to their friends in industry and using it to try to balance federal budgets.