Is an $18,000 pension 'gold-plated'?

Un article dans le National Post est apparu «Is an $18,000 pension 'gold-plated'?» par M. Paul Moist qui est ‘National president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees’

En spécifiant que :

« When it comes to debating pensions, however, disingenuous arguments are commonplace. Such as corporate Canada's insistence on pointing to public sector pensions as prime examples of union-led extravagance.

The typical public sector pension -for someone who has worked for 30 years -is $18,000 per year. It is beyond any reasonable and objective person on how this can be termed as excessive. Most Canadians sure don't. »

Les répliques n’ont pas tardé à apparaître dans plusieurs publications.

FP Letters to the Editor: CUPE’s numbers are way off base

Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, should check his numbers before he contributes editorials to the Financial Post. Either he does not know the numbers or is putting them out there to deceive the public.

A quick scan of just a few of the public-sector employee websites shows numbers far in excess of what Mr. Moist wants us to believe. As a frame of reference, let’s keep in mind the average working Canadian earns around $43,000.

The Ontario teachers’ pension site states that: “Average pension for teachers retiring in 2009 with the 85 factor is $42,900.” At the federal government, the average new pension in 2009 was $34,644, with a fully qualified pension average of $39,312. In B.C., the general workers’ pension fund’s average pension in 2009 was $30,900 and had a cash value of $446,000.

Most Canadians count on their home as the biggest source of future retirement funding. For a government employee, this is not a concern. Private-sector workers worry about having enough for their spouse to survive should they pass on, and need to purchase some sort of life insurance. Government employee pensions offer full spousal benefits. In addition, most CUPE workers have their health benefits funded by taxpayers from early retirement until age 65.

So let’s strike a compromise. Let’s pool the $800-billion accumulated in public-sector pensions together with the CPP and allow everyone to earn the 50% replacement income that Mr. Moist envisions with CPP reform. Considering that Canadians have only $700-billion in RRSP assets, they would be happy with this deal.

Bill Tufts, Fair Pensions For All, Hamilton, Ont.

Is an $18,000 public-service pension “gold plated”?

In a word: yes. Just ask any of the millions of Canadians with no pension whatsoever.

Mr. Moist trots out the usual union bromides to defend the indefensible public-sector largesse that has gripped taxpayers in its maw in both Canada and the United States. He says by “increasing CPP contributions by both employees and employers we could greatly improve retirement security of all Canadians.”

The trouble is that millions of Canadians do not have an employer. They work independently — on their own. They take commercial risks that government workers do not. End of that argument.

Ask any public-sector employee if he/she would rather have his/her $18,000 pension or save for retirement through an RRSP and watch the reaction. For a private-sector person, it would take an RRSP of $360,000 returning 5% to equal $18,000. Try to get 5% today. Try to raise $360,000! Few Canadians have an RRSP worth $360,000.

The playing field would only be level if all pubic-sector workers were denied pensions and required to have an RRSP like most private-sector workers . Fat chance you say — or is that slim chance?

He likens public-sector workers to “working Canadians.” This is a familiar union slogan. It suggests that only union members are “workers” or of “working families.” Does he think the rest of us wealth-creating poor saps in the private sector just sit on park benches and watch the clouds drift by?

No — he needs to write this union drivel to get his union paycheque.

D.P. Smith, Toronto

Thank goodness the readers of the Post are intelligent enough to see through the self-interested rhetoric Mr. Moist expects us to swallow. Anyone in the private sector who was paid an average of $40,000 a year and got a pension of $18,000 on top of their CPP would indeed be very happy.

We need look no further than to page FP11 to note the story of a financially irresponsible civil servant who has saved virtually nothing for retirement, is almost $20,000 in debt, yet will still be able to retire at the age of 58 with a pension of more than $53,000 annually. Oh, yes, that does not include CPP either.

This pervasive attitude of entitlement in the face of the financial realities the majority of Canadians face is disturbing. Perhaps the outcome of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s plans will cost us more in the long run. However, part of that cost will come from those who oppose trying to give the taxpayers more value.

Mr Moist would serve his members well to help them get used to the idea that Canada, and the world, is quickly becoming a different place.

J. Burns, Thornhill