Friday, October 15, 2010

On popular support

There's still little room for doubt that the Cons will do as little to improve actual retirement security as they can get away with. But hopefully today's poll results on public support for improvements to Canada's national pension and benefit system will help to raise the baseline:
The Environics poll, being released Friday, paints a picture of a population where a significant minority are concerned about the adequacy of their retirement income — an insecurity that increases the closer they get to retiring.

Half of the survey respondents said governments are moving too slowly on pension reform and 80 per cent said they support increasing Old Age Security payments, as well as the Guaranteed Income Supplement that goes to the poorest seniors.
Almost eight in 10 respondents — 78 per cent — said they support increasing CPP/QPP benefits. The idea was most popular among those earning between $30,000 and $60,000, winning a thumbs up from 82 per cent.

Labour unions, as well as the federal NDP, advocate enhancing the CPP, which covers most Canadian workers, as the most effective way to help future retirees.
But the most important factor may be the complete lack of public confidence in market-based alternatives:
A substantial minority — 37 per cent — said they are not saving for retirement, a figure that rises to 72 per cent for those earning less than $30,000 a year, the poll said. More than seven in 10 say they can't afford to put money away.

Only one in four people said they were fully confident of being able to save enough to live comfortably after they stop working.
Of course, the Cons are entirely willing to ignore three in four Canadians when it suits their purposes. But particularly with economic stability looming as one of the main ballot questions in the next federal election, the number of people both unsatisfied with declarations of "fend for yourself" and looking for greater public-sector action would seem to make this one of the rare exceptions where the public's concerns might actually get addressed.

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