In the intense scrutiny that the Duffy trial is receiving during this pre-election campaign period, a very important report surfaced that has not received the attention it should. It concerns a Finance Canada review of Canada’s retirement system, that says Canada scores poorly among OECD countries. CBC News obtained a heavily censored copy of the internal document under the Access to Information Act. They published a summary with the title Document raises questions about Harper retirement policies. It makes for very chilling reading for Canadian seniors.
The review acknowledges that Canada trails most developed countries in providing public pensions, and is poised to perform even worse in the future. Here are some important quotes from that article:
In 2010, Canada spent 5.0 per cent of GDP on public pensions (OAS/GIS and C/QPP), which is low compared with the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) of average of 9.4 per cent.
The OECD projects that public expenditure on pensions in Canada will only increase to 6.3 per cent of GDP by 2050 – much lower than the 11.6 per cent of GDP projected for OECD countries on average.
Canada’s public pensions “replace a relatively modest share of earnings for individuals with average earnings” compared with the OECD average of 34 countries; that is, about 45 per cent of earnings compared with the OECD’s 54 per cent.
With such cavalier treatment of seniors, it is not surprising that we can see headlines such as Canada posts surplus in first quarter of fiscal year. Nevertheless as another article by Chris Hall in CBC News shows the Federal election campaign presents a phoney debate over deficits. It would be so much better to abandon this simplistic economist’s approach to the federal deficit. We should rather be looking for fairness and equity particularly for Canada’s seniors.