Letter to the Editor by Darlene Jalbert – A Stronger Canada Pension Plan

A Stronger Canada Pension Plan

For your entire career you work hard and build a good life for your family. Every Pay cheque, your deductions include a small amount that is tucked away in your public pension plan.

When retirement comes, you expect to be able to live in dignity with some measure of financial security.  Yet this recession has shown that things might not be as secure as you have been led to believe. Your RRSP has been decimated by the global financial crisis.

And if you had been counting on your company pension plan, you might be in for an even greater surprise.  Over the past year more than 5,700 companies have filed for bankruptcy. In many of  those cases, the pension plans were underfunded and workers stand to lose out to  other creditors.

For most of us, then, the most secure retirement savings we have are in the Canada/Quebec Pension Plans (CPP/QPP), to which the vast majority of Canadians and their employers contribute. But at present, the maximum benefit it offers is $11,000 a year.

Yet the CPP/QPP remains the single most effective solution to ensure retirement security. It’s portable, sustainable, risk free and publicly (and cheaply) administered. It pays predictable benefits that don’t fall if markets collapse.

You contribute to it with each paycheque you take home. It’s safer than many company plans because the risk is shared with the 93 per cent of Canadians who are members.  And it is protected by legislation. That means that if even if your employer is declared bankrupt, your retirement savings are secure – unlike workers at Nortel, for example.

It also pays benefits progressively, so if you pay in more while working, you receive higher benefits when you retire. Its only drawback is the limit on the contributions you and your employer can make.

New Democrats want to raise that limit so that you can contribute more now and receive better benefits later.

Currently, the maximum CPP/QPP available benefit is $908.75 a month for an individual retiree. By allowing you and your employer to contribute an additional 2.5 per cent, the maximum benefit would gradually rise to $1,817.50 per month.

To put that 2.5 per cent contribution increase in perspective, most RRSPs charge that in administration fees. In fact, RRSP holders paid $25 billion in fees and commissions to mutual funds in 2007 alone. In exchange, they watched their retirement savings shrivel as many RRSPs lost up to 50 per cent of their value in the last year.

Instead of pumping more money into mutual funds and other investment vehicles that investment advisors tend to recommend, we believe that you and your employer should be allowed to contribute more money to CPP/QPP so you receive a far better benefit when you retire. Risk free.

The retirement-savings reform package New Democrats have put forward – from expanding CPP/QPP to protecting company pensions when bankruptcies occur – are the most effective and well-developed now under discussion in Ottawa. With the Conservatives tinkering at the edges and the Liberals only just beginning to talk about what needs to be done, there is no question that our party is in the lead on this issue.

We urge all parties in Ottawa to recognise that the national crisis in retirement savings requires national solutions and national leadership. Implement our plans. Ensure retirement security for Canadians. There’s no more time to waste.

Darlene Jalbert

Federal NDP Candidate

Stormont, Dundas & South Glengarry

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of the Cornwall Free News, their staff, or sponsors.)


  1. Great letter Ms Jalbert! Our governments seem bent on farming out services while raising taxes! The well is only so deep and we the voters have to stop being treated like sheep!

  2. Darlene
    It’s nice to see a local rep writing in the local media.

    Your letter but it appears to only state the obvious with no real solution or no real benefit to the plans or the people using them.

    If we pay to the CPP/QPP it would be the government using our monies to invest instead of banks. With the current investment strategies of our governments you would have a difficult time selling people on stability and responsible in investing.

    What happens to the money when it is paid by people/industry? How is it invested? What assurances can you make that when I retire it will be available as you claim?

    This concept too asks people for more of their hard earned cash. Even if you ask companies to contribute more on people’s behalf you can be assured it will be felt by the people it is said to assist. How would you stop corporations from using this reason for increasing costs or reducing employment due to increased operating costs?

    Why would you not consider looking into other avenues for investing in Canadians and their retirement? How many pension plans exist for the elite, politicians, teachers and other civil servants? Would it not be more financially viable to eliminate pension funds for the rich and famous and invest in all Canadians?

    Currently in Ontario alone McGuinty and company invest 1 billion tax dollars into the Ontario Teachers pension fund. $500 Million of that would be a nice boost into any public service while still leaving a formidable pension plan in good standing.
    What about your pension plan, would you willingly ask for changes lowering any contributions and paying into CPP/QPP for the people you want to represent?

    I wish you all the best.
    It’s too bad Samis use to try and brainwash high school kids ineligible to vote into the NDP way. Ever since that I have had no respect for the NDP but you may be their bright light

  3. Dear Smee, In a heartbeat I would ask my employer to reduce thier contributions of RRSP to be able to increase the CPP. I can tell you from experience that the retirement investments made on my behalf took a big hit during the recession as did most. I cannot depend on it. I am tired of seeing our seniors who build this country, live in poverty. The days of having a good company pension plan are over.

    When I write letters to the editor I try to make them reader friendly for all. Details sometimes seem confusing. I do believe that the NDP plan for reforming Canada’s Pension Plan is the best solution for all Canadians. If you would like to email me I would be happy to provide you with more detail. You could also visit the Federal NDP website, or the Canadian Labour Congress website for more information.

    Thank you for your kind words about me personally.
    Best regards,
    Darlene Jalbert

  4. How about eliminating the pension plan completely and instead… institute financial literacy in our education system so people can be independent and self-sufficient. Government is for people who refuse to take 100% responsibility for themselves.

  5. Darlene
    Perhaps I play on words a bit much but I find when people speak they are often unclear which often leads to even more uncertainty when attempting to achieve results or gather information in the future.

    You stated “In a heartbeat I would ask my employer to reduce their contributions of RRSP to be able to increase the CPP.”
    Does this refer to minimizing your employer’s contributing to their benefits? Or your minimize contributions to your pension plan?
    Secondly why have you not asked yet? The statement seems to be directed at the future.

    Also do you think Jack would share in your belief that he and all politicians should have their pension plan contributions reduced such that the money, or our tax dollars, will be invested in all Canadians?

    How long would your political career last with if you proposed provinces reduced contributions to teacher’s pension plans?

    Why people so well-off cannot manage their own pensions is beyond me.

  6. Some companies already match employee donations to a defined plan, will they be exempt?

  7. Jason, the problem with your idea is that far too often when we are young, we don’t think about getting old. Also in a community where 25% of the population are working poor, there is no money to put aside for retirement.

    Smee, My statement is directed at the future, because until we reform CPP, we are unable to increase our donations, personal or employer. For those who have pension plans, those plans would not change.

    Eric, defined plans would not change. But unfortunately, these plans are being eliminated all the time by employers who cannot afford them. The Canada Pension plan is something that everyone pays into with or without defined pension plans, so to answer your question no they would not be exempt as they are not now.

    Best regards to all and thank you for taking an interest in the topic.

    Darlene Jalbert

  8. Thank you for your time and interest in so many subjects. An employer paying additional CPP costs per employee would probably cancel the defined plan then.
    Business, like Joe and Jane Worker, are being hit with a nickle here a dollar there for everything, there is enough money going to the 3 levels of gov’t, it just is not used right.

    I do not have a problem with some tax money going to help people who need it. However, when I got an A in school, I did not want to take a C so someone getting a D could move up.

  9. You got some good sense there, Jalbert. It’s true – there is a strong argument for increased pension payment over RRSP – in particular if one does not invest in a Gold RRSP which is held in trust at the Royal mint. You have a fine idea. We need brave and smart people like yourself. It will be good when we break the habit of the ignorant leading the uneducated. There are brave people in this country, lots of them. When they aren’t leading themselves they look for leaders. Leaders look for voters. This ought to be a pretty good match you’d think. But we know that 80% of those under the age of 28 don’t vote. If you ask them, it’s for a bunch of reasons. I think all wrong reasons but maybe that’s part of the generation gap. Then there is the over 28 crowd in SD&G and they are not likely to vote for anyone that can’t talk knowledgeably about farm effluent, marketing boards and generally have one foot in the furrow. Farmers feed cities, yeah – they know that. We have brave people fighting overseas. We have brave people fighting to prevent unjust legislation. We have brave people stepping into classrooms. Canada is full of brave people. No one is going to get in your way. It never use to be a difficult question to ponder how to get a twenty something to vote, now I think it’s close to your only question. How can you compel, force and call to someone to be brave enough and smart enough to vote? They don’t vote, they sure don’t think about saving for retirement. They don’t understand what happens when people stop voting. You have a broad enough sense of history to understand. It’s important that you be braver and bolder, I see that as your mission. You be the lightening rod for success and reason. The answer is probably right there. I can’t say I can see it myself. All you have to lose is the country.

  10. Darlene….. there is a reason why 25% of our population are part of the working poor. What you see is a symptom of a much larger root problem, one that no government has ever addressed. We seem to be in a world of quick fixes and patches… It’s easier I know… and from a political stand point it’s hard to get votes telling ppl what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. People can’t handle much truth and have a hard time taking 100% responsibilty for themselves which is only fueed by our societal systems and structures that produce such symptoms

  11. Darlene
    Can you state that any increases in CPP contributions will not be reflected in any way on the person’s income and or taxes?

    Regarding the existing pensions you state “For those who have pension plans, those plans would not change.”
    Are pensions like government, public service and teachers pension plans not one of the biggest drains on our tax base?
    You are promoting change to the CPP or the Canadian public’s pension. The amount is almost insignificant compared to what the aforementioned group will have donated by my or our tax dollars.
    All levels of government seem to leave the general public out on a limb such that some elderly people live barely above the poverty line. Do you think this is a fair situation to Canadians?

    Why can government, public service and teachers be in the same situation as the majority of Canadians and monitor their own independent pensions.

  12. Yes smee, to back up your point, did you read in Ottawa just a few weeks ago, taxpayers had to kick in another 15 million dollars (15,000,000.00) for the bus drivers there, just because market conditions lowered the total in their pension. Well, many of us lost 10’s of thousands of dollars and no one helped us!

    I am not against change, but ?

  13. In Quebec if a woman is over 40 and has a degree she can borrow money at less than prime from the government to buy a farm. I didn’t notice that program here. My pension would be a farm. Will you loan me money at less than prime?

  14. Well done, and well said Darlene. I wish I would have had that option in my youth.

  15. Fully-indexed pension. MPs receive a defined benefit (DB) pension based on earnings and service. They must contribute 9% of their sessional indemnities, have the option to contribute on any additional allowances and are entitled to a pension after six years. For service after 1995, the benefit accrual rate is 4%. The Prime Minister is required to contribute 7% of his salary for a pension equal to two-thirds of his final annual salary. He is entitled to the pension after four years of contributions. Based on the March 31, 1998 actuarial valuation report on the pension plan for the members of parliament, the estimated value of pension earned in one year of contributory service is currently 59.5% of an MP’s salary–9% of which is paid by the member–and 112.5% of the Prime Minister’s salary–7% of which is paid by the Prime Minister.

    Benefits. MPs have standard benefits including life, health and dental and airline flight insurance coverage paid entirely by the government.

    Severance. MPs under the age of 55 are entitled to a generous severance package when they leave or are voted out of office.

  16. Over the last few years, changes have been made to compensation for MPPs. In some provinces, the structure of MPPs’ compensation is quite different from their federal counterparts. For example, in 1996, Ontario eliminated MPPs’ rich pension plan and replaced it with a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) similar to those used by professionals. The legislation also placed Ontario MPPs on straight salary, eliminating hidden tax-free allowances and extra tax-free pay for committee work. Ontario MPP salaries are now $78,007. Benefits are estimated at $7,000, plus there’s a 5% employer-type RRSP contribution (or $3,900 per annum).

  17. Here is a thought, stop paying the bilingual bonus to government employees and put that money towards a raise for senoirs…….

  18. Yep, she’s a ball of fire alright, great responses…

  19. I didn’t think we would get answers for the points made. Kind of makes the bright light grow dim again

  20. Politicians tend to to run when real questions are asked… hello? Darlene… what is your SOLUTION for the ROOT problem we are facing in Cornwall re: 25% are working poor…

  21. Anna & Smee, sorry it took so long. I do not always come on here every day and didn’t think this conversation would still be going, although glad it is. Its nice to know someone else out there is talking pensions besides me. I don’t have all the answers, wish I did! Smee increases to CPP would reflect your income and taxes the same way they do now. As far as MP’s pensions, I think the government is far too generous with OUR money. When it comes to union negotiated pensions, I say kutos to the unions, I wish everyone had the same. Please remember employers agree to these pensions during negotiations, if they can’t afford them they shouldn’t negotiate them. The changes I want to the CPP reflects the fact that there are less and less negotiated pensions, so there needs to be some options. People are starving on the Canada Pension Plan. I think the CPP is the safest way to give that option. Since we seem to agree that many of our seniors are living in poverty I hope that you would give this idea on its own merit some thought.

    Best Regards,

    Darlene Jalbert

  22. I completely agree with the need to increase CPP. The question is who will be responsible to cover the cost. We can now add to that people such as Ruby Dhalla wanting to pay immigrants CPP after only 3 years. How do you account for the additional costs of that inevitable change?

    Kudos to unions *l* spoken like a true NDP representative.
    Unions are a bad solution to bad management, in this case government. Why does our government leave industry operate in such a manner that we need unions? It seems we are suppressed by government here in the Democratic system to operate only under entities and governing bodies while still paying tax dollars to government itself. It is kind of a loose, loose situation.

    Employers only agreed to these demands by unions and the public due necessity brought on by strikes and walk outs. At that time North America was the hub of manufacturing cresting the apex of the industrial revolution. Now with industrial growth over seas in Asia and India we would be hard pressed to have a union maintain itself let alone dictate to industry.

    Yes we need to help Canadians but not by blaming industry while neglecting entities taking advantage of their position and misleading people. This is government, unions, crown corporations. These are the largest burden on our system as they are not held accountable for their actions.

    What Canadians would need is a union to deal with government on our behalf. If you want my money this is what I EXPECT in return.

  23. We do not need to negotiate more pensions with industry but with our government.

    You seem to believe that taxing industry which earns capital by marketing and selling a product is the route to go. Yet government, which uses people’s tax money to only sustain itself, has no accountability for the income it makes and the people it represents.

    There are no tangible goods that you can show me for the taxes I pay into pension plans. Our taxes pay for “union negotiated pensions” costing Ontarians for teachers alone bordering on 1 billion dollars per annum. How can you justify that under your statement “When it comes to union negotiated pensions, I say kutos to the unions”?
    Teachers pay a 15% plus 1% indexing and we pay the rest. Then you call out to industry to pay more for our pension.

    I think maybe you should terminate lucrative billion dollar pension payments to already stable pension plans and add that to the rest of Canada’s CPP. Imagine how a billion dollar increase to CPP would look. Not to mention the investment potential available for government from the plan.

    Until government can better manage our money at your level industry will continue to invest over seas.

  24. Smee, thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts.

    Best regards,
    Darlene Jalbert

  25. Thanks for addressing the root problem darlene;)

  26. Here is another thought Darlene
    I spent the morning travelling around Cornwall trying to locate the NDP office. I figured it may be nice to introduce myself having posed such difficult opinions and questions, of which you seem to have fluffed off just like your peers. The latter will come back to visit you at election time.

    Businesses, other parties and other city offices have no idea who you are. Your webpage and phone number are inaccurate as well.
    Are we to assume that you only will work at election time, when it suits the party? I would have to say that is just like Lauzon for the Feds and Private Bill Jim for the province. It could be compared to being the monkey with a cup for the organ grinder. He doesn’t do much but collect money and steal the shiny stuff.

    It is a shame too as I had a feeling by the look in your eyes there was bright light as I mentioned earlier and audacity which would have made the difference for eastern Ontario. But alas it fades.

    This is eastern Ontario winning an election is easy doing the job takes a little more

  27. This is eastern Ontario winning an election is easy doing the job takes a little more

    Here is another perspective to consider for all politicians
    What if we took all Canadian born people, gave them free land in BC and PEI, Nova Scotia, and NewFoundland.

    The open immigration and allow the immigrants to work the rest of the country but tax them severely so we as Canadians could live at ease.

    Now take that scenario and look at the pension plans I mentioned and tell me how they differ. The only difference is government is doing it to everyone.

  28. smee how much have you donated to the party you supported in the last election? Did you vote in the last election? There is no Conservative office; there’s Guy Lauzon’s which comes out of his $250K office budget per year.

    Most politician’s don’t have “offices” for their parties except for during elections in every riding. Darlene as you can see isn’t hard to get a hold of. She’s the only current Federal nominee taking time from her full time job to post and answer questions and some of them tough ones.

    For that I think she deserves some major kudos!

  29. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to have responded to smee’s questions. Just thanked smee for their thoughts.

  30. smee, I do not have an office. We will have an office at election time to be used as a campaign office. I think if you go up the page I did give you my personal email to contact me for a more in detailed conversation. Just so you know, I receive no pay what so ever for any of the work I do. As a matter of fact I pay out of my own pocket for every event I attend, without regret. I work at a full time job in Ottawa.

    As for fluffing off your questions as you put it. That was not at all my intention. We have different opionions on this subject and I thanked you for sharing yours with me. That is the great thing about this country is we are able to have all different opinions and voice them. I stand by what I wrote.

    Best regards


  31. At least we can talk to Guy Lauzon at the Conservative Constituency Office located next to Herb’s Diner on Pitt Street during business hours. As to where you might talk to the opposition parties (Liberal & NDP) representatives – Good Luck in finding them.

  32. admin and Darlene
    I quit donating to parties after approaching our last liberal MP’s office for help with a 62 yr old crippled with arthritis needing some help with paying for meds. They were told they are still employable and they should consider upgrading or returning to college.

    No questions were answered by Darlene. Yes thanx for the chat but all that was done is to attempt to give an opinion. I also know Darlene to make comment on my views would be political suicide.

    As you can see others make the same comment that no answers are provided.

    Darlene is your political agenda to serve your own opinions or to serve the constituents? So far as you have shown it appears to be your own agenda.

    As for work, I work in a full time job in Toronto, why? I assume the same reason you work in Ottawa. Here in Cornwall the lunatics run the asylum and they have no clue how work at making a city grow.

    Lauzon’s office, talk about Lunatics running an asylum. I met with them as well; Guy was out holding his cup at some street corner

  33. Give Darlene a chance. I believe she will do right for the people.

  34. Willie I think the voters of this riding have some amazing talent to choose from. I’m really hoping that the issue becomes issue centric rather than totally partisan. My biggest concern and sadly I’m seeing it now is that the “other” media in town are being beyond partisan and will not give any other candidate than Mr. Lauzon a fair shake.

    I saw that today at the rally.

  35. Jamie
    Your post is a reminder of the pot calling the kettle black.

  36. Thats crap smee. If you weren’t at the meeting then you cannot critique jamie. Be fair man.

  37. smee, the admin wants to give Lauzon a chance to speak in this paper. It is Lauzon that keeps on avoiding any contact with this paper. And quite frankly, after looking at many papers in the area, the admin is right, the other papers don’t hardly give the time of day to any other candidates then Lauzon. In fact, the old penny grader, used to be ONLY Lauzon!

    There is no pot calling the kettle black here. The kettle (Lauzon), wants to stay black!

  38. Maybe the pot should buy the kettle a vuvuzela…..

  39. I have seen some of your comments and discussions on the Freeholder site. You have your favorites as well. Having a function as media rep you should have no favorites else you cannot be bipartisan.

    Lauzon well just have a look at him and Kilger at the grand opening of the Salvation Army in the freeholder. They look three sheets to the wind.

    Could you imagine trying actually to take them seriously.

  40. I speak out against all that pisses me off, I speak for all that I think is right. I make my comments on many sites, not just the SFH or CFN. I am also not any media rep if that is what you think (just in case you’re thinking that). I just have a hell of a lot of time on my hands, and yet have a rather solid social life. I just don’t like a lot of the crap going on around us. And what Jamie said is true, the mainstream media is being controlled. Want to see it, I challenge the mainstream media to go and say some stuff against Guy and see what happens. Do I think its Guy specifically that is controlling the media, no.. he’s not smart enough for that. However, I do certainly think the rest of the current Conservative party has a lot to do with manipulating media these days. And I do believe that plays a direct part in why Guy won’t give any interview or anything to Jamie.

    Say what you want, but Jamie, has called out many times in various posts and discussions for Guy to join in. But yet, Guy still wont give him the time of day. So think what you want, but that says verses to me. Why is Guy so afraid to come on here and give an interview? think about it..

    None of what I said above or am about to say below, in any way makes Jamie or his site my favorite.
    I have seen stuff that many probably didn’t see in media, Jamie included, both in media not made available to public’s eye’s, as well as in real life scenarios. Let me tell you, theres lots of weird crap going on out there. At least Jamie will post more content about whats really important to us all, probably another reason the Con’s wont talk to him.

    I’m not partisan either. I am also not really for any party out there as it is. I think most of them are blowing hot air into the wind. They’re mostly too wishy washy as well. And they play the game for themselves, not for the people that vote them in. As you can see, many are being too careful saying what really needs to be said, as you said yourself, it would be “political suicide”. Everyone has their own hidden agendas as far as I’m concerned. Which is why they’re being so careful in what they say and do in the first place. So I do not favor any side. I think government is being given too much control over us as it is.

    Guy sucks and has to go. Ignatieff is an idiot and will only ultimately destroy whats left of the fed libs. McGuinty screwed the prov-libs for a while I’m sure. Hudak is just as full of it. Quite sorry, the NDP are wishy washy most of the time. I think I got the biggest laugh at hearing from the NDP how un-Canadian the Libs and Ignatieff are when they wouldn’t hear anything about what was going to be tabled before saying they wouldn’t support it, when the year before, Jack Layton of the NDP did EXACTLY the same thing. People don’t seem to remember all the stuff that goes on. But I pick up on all this little stuff.

    So theres just a few outlooks from my view of things. But one thing I can agree on, is no matter what someone’s views are, if anyone wants to be heard, they have to speak up and make themselves heard. So I at least participate. No matter how grim I think things are going to get in the future, I cant make a change without doing anything and participating. At least you’re speaking to someone that isn’t wishy washy on what they believe in. I tell it as it is and I don’t sugarcoat it.. 😉

    I am for the legalization of Marijuana, so probably Ill go Green, only for that reason. I don’t think with the questions and answers Ive been hearing from any of the main 3 parties that I can vote for any of them. They’re all full of it. Unless Frank McKenna becomes the leader of the Libs..

  41. Grimmy you goin to Hell boy! Just ask Pastor Tom

  42. Anyone else find it funny that Darlene works in Ottawa…… hmmmm why Cornwall not able to offer you what you need? Maybe it is time to show true leadership and fix the ROOT cause of our cities problems.

  43. Id rather go to hell with everyone I know then end up alone with the pastor in whatever supposed heaven there is..

  44. Jason, under our bill of rights, we, including Darlene, have mobility rights within our country, and she has every right to work where the work is. The root causes will only be addressed when a large group organize under a determined leader to affect that change. ( you can almost hear O Canada in the background while reading this LOL)

  45. Oh yea the bill of rights lol

  46. Don’t laugh to hard though Jason, special interest groups are using the laws to further their cause, and at the expense of others.

  47. I don’t have any problems with Darlene working in Ottawa that is her right. I think that if she represents the citizens of Cornwall and associated areas then she should be living in Cornwall or at least in the riding. I would never vote for anyone who lives outside of my riding!

  48. Grimalot
    Your conspiracy theory though close to the truth is a little speculative to say the least. Guy Lauzon probably has trouble controlling his own bladder let alone the media.

    Media is controlled by a lot more influential people then the organ grinders monkey.

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