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“The north is suffering”

Date published : October 30, 2009 - Iroquois Falls, Ontario

Ken and his wife Verna had been getting by on a modest pension – but then his former employer filed for bankruptcy protection.
 
Canada’s pension meltdown

Like all retired workers, Réal and Ken were counting on stable income for the rest of their lives. It was hardly an unreasonable expectation. As employees of the Abitibi paper mill in Iroquois Falls, Ontario, they had been contributing to the pension plan for decades. But earlier this year they got surprising bad news: their pensions were going to be reduced by as much as 50%.

They are far from being alone. The market collapse has exposed the weakness of Canada’s pension system – and millions of Canadians are now being forced to radically downsize their retirement plans.

Some facts

•    Out of a total workforce of 17.6 million, about 11 million Canadians – 60% of the workforce - have no pensions at all.
•    Only 4 million Canadian workers have registered retirement savings plans.
•    4.5 million Canadians have defined pension plans that guarantee pension income until death. 55% of these plans are held by public sector employees.
•    The average Canadian pension is $25,000 a year.
•    The market meltdown of 2008 left an estimated $50-billion deficit in Canada’s corporate pension funds.
•    In 1977 about 46% of Canadians were enrolled in an employment pension plans, but by 1997 the proportion had dropped to 38%. It continues to decline.
•    In 2008 only 31% of eligible taxpayers made use of the RRSP program, and only a small percentage of them made the full allowable contribution of 18% of annual income.
•    40 percent of Canada’s work force will retire within the next 20 years.

Source:
The Globe and Mail
Statistics Canada
 
Reporting and photographs
Renaud Philippe

Editor
Miguel Raymond

Director-coordinator
Hélène Choquette


© 2009 NFB – All rights reserved

 
 
  • Canadians are facing a national pension meltdown.
  • Decades in the making, it has worsened dramatically
  • during the recession.
  • - Jacquie McNish (journalist with the Globe and Mail)
 

Comments(1)

Money talks

 

By Josh Marilykin - Date published: March 13, 2010 - Kirkland Lake, Ontario

It's exactly that. Here in Northern Ontario, we're good at building company towns and then suffering or leaving, once the company's happy with the profit it made. There are very little examples of towns who've managed to get on a more sustainable track. The money, always the money.

 

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