As I sit in the airport in Buffalo, I have two things on my mind. The second is the piece I listened to on the CBC as I rounded the western end of Lake Ontario. The topic: old age pensions in Canada.
Let me tell you, the topic of pensions gets to me. See, I own a small business. I have five people on the payroll (myself included) and we all work hard for our money. But there is no pension plan for us other than the Canada Pension Plan. And legally we all must contribute to it. So, the thought of the government doing away with it (or at least making big, painful changes to it) is not even a little bit acceptable.
Meanwhile, thousands – tens, hundreds of thousands?! – of government employees are of the belief that they are entitled to a pretty generous pension. A pension that my tax dollars are ultimately contributing to. Why should these public servants be better taken care of than the majority of Canadians? Especially when, as far as I can tell, they get paid competitive wages. I actually suspect many receive compensation that is excessive but I need to do some homework before I go off on that particular tangent.
And there’s the folks who work for big companies that offer pensions, and masses of unionized workers. They all think they deserve pensions too. What makes them better than me and my employees?
I think about people like those who worked for companies like Nortel. Their pensions have vaporized. Poof. Gone! Do I feel bad for them? Well, yes and no. Yes because it sucks when a commitment goes unfulfilled. No because not one of ’em should have ever been allowed to truly rely on that pension being there. (Those with disabilites should be taken care of by our health care system, but that’s another tangent.) I can’t entirely fault the workers for having it in their heads that the money would be there. Ultimately it’s corporate stupidity and arrogance to think that the business would go on forever and live up to its promises for all eternity.
So, what do we do? I think pensions other than CPP need to be abolished. CPP should be the “reward” for having done a life’s work and paid taxes. Everyone should be able to count on it being there… but only as a backup!!!
We should all be responsible for saving for our own retirements. Period. Yes, let there be a government safety net so that when bad things happen we don’t find ourselves living out of a cardboard box, but if you think you’re going to maintain a cushy lifestyle on any pension then you are, in my humble opinion, a looney.
The small business is critical to our economy. So are the people who work for them. As I understand it, they (we) are the majority of Canadians. Why must we have the misfortune of not having a company pension and possibly not even CPP to rely on? Seems wholly unfair to me.
And yes, I know I failed to mention the first thing that’s on my mind. Maybe some other day…