Dec 17, 2010

Harper Tories double-cross provinces with gift to big insurance companies and banks; BC Liberals abandon seniors—CUPE BC

BURNABY—The surprise announcement yesterday from Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the federal Conservative government is abandoning improvements to the Canada Pension Plan after reaching a broad national consensus on the issue is an affront to low- and middle-income seniors struggling to make ends meet, CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill said today.

O’Neill said that next week’s meeting of ministers of finance in Ontario should be an opportunity for British Columbia to work with the majority of provincial governments to put pressure on Ottawa to change course and bring in badly needed changes that are supported by an overwhelming majority of Canadians.

“Mr. Harper’s comment that ‘now is not the time’ to improve the Canada Pension Plan is shocking,” said O’Neill. “According to the Conservatives, it also wasn’t time to improve CPP when the economy was booming. It sounds almost identical to the BC Liberal spin about the minimum wage in BC, which has led to the lowest minimum wage in North America. It’s hard to know which is worse, betraying seniors or betraying young people, but the Conservatives and the BC Liberals appear to be teaming up to do both.

“Given that the BC Liberal government had dropped its plan for a BC pension plan in favour of national improvements to CPP, one would think that Finance Minister Colin Hansen would be planning to show up at the summit on Monday with fire in his belly on the issue,” said O’Neill. “But sources are telling us that Mr. Hansen isn’t even attending Kananaskis summit and is sending a deputy minister instead. That’s disgusting.

“There are very few issues that get the kind of broad-based national support that the proposed improvements to CPP have received. The Conservatives are thumbing their noses at seniors and working people who don’t have the kind of gold-plated pension plans that MPs do. And the BC Liberals appear to be supporting this betrayal.

“Instead of wasting thousands of tax dollars to send a senior bureaucrat to take notes, the BC Liberals should donate the money to charity,” said O’Neill. “They should either send an elected official who will take a stand, or stop pretending to work for a national plan that would improve the lives of millions of seniors, now and in the future.”

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