Fairer Pension Rules

For many retirees from the military, the RCMP, judges and other federal positions, there is a bizarre, arbitrary prohibition for pensions to be continued to the surviving spouse. Superannuation Acts block pension benefits to widows and widowers if the pensioner married after age 65. This odd rule dates back to the Boer Wars of the late 1800s and an effort to block younger women taking advantage of returning veterans. The rule has created serious deprivations to surviving spouses across Canada.

It needs to be fixed.

The 2014 Federal Budget attacked the deficit by increasing health care premiums for federal retirees. It sets out that by the end of 2014 the deficit will be $2.9 billion. If one counts the $3 billion contingency plan, the budget would be balanced. Still, the budget sets out a plan to raise $7.6 billion over the next six years by doubling the premiums from retired federal employees. This includes veterans, the RCMP and all retired federal employees. I have received nearly 12,000 letters from seniors asking me to prevent such an outrageous move. The terms and conditions of work, including retirement are part of the contract we made with federal workers.

On February 12th, I was the first Member of Parliament to raise the issue in the House of Commons. Here is my exchange with Prime Minister Harper:

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, in defeating the deficit, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance had a choice. They could have gone after the “dead money,” the $600 billion now sloshing around in the bank accounts of corporations which is a staggering 32% of our GDP, or they could have gone after the live retirees, retired federal civil servants, breaking faith with promises by doubling their healthcare premiums.

Would the Prime Minister tell us why he chose to go after live retirees instead of “dead money?”

Right Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, of course, we maintain tax rates for corporations. We expect them to pay their taxes and we go after them when they do not pay their taxes. However, the question that was asked here concerns the voluntary supplemental health benefits for retirees.

What we are saying is that we believe it is still a subject of discussion at a bargaining table. We have been very clear that we believe when it is a voluntary plan like that, a Cadillac plan, that retirees should pay their own fair share, which would be 50 % of the plan. It would still make it one of the best plans one could get in this country.


Now that the Prime Minister claims the matter is still before a bargaining table, I will do everything I can to keep health care premiums for federal retirees held at the level of the contract they entered into with their employer — the federal government.

Also in This Issue…