Source: Teamsters Canada
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The Teamsters Union sent two delegates to the
National Pension Forum, which took place on October 26 in Ottawa.
The purpose of this meeting was to gather proposals for reform in
order to calm heightened fears across the country about the future
of pension plans.
In addition to the Teamsters Union, major industry stakeholders,
non-profit organizations, actuaries, and insurance groups attended
this forum to discuss these vitally important issues.
The Teamsters Union's participation in this type of discussion is
nothing new. Indeed, for nearly five years, Teamsters Canada's
lobbyist in Ottawa, Phil Benson, has been sitting on various labour
committees and groups whose purpose is to guarantee Canadians a
"Last week's demonstration seems to have prompted the various
political parties to change their position," remarked Robert Bouvier,
president of Teamsters Canada. Everything indicates our elected
officials heard the message."
We know that the demonstration organized last week in Ottawa by the
Teamsters Union and the Nortel Retirees’ Protection Committee
sparked much interest among Canadians. The former Nortel workers
will soon see their pension checks severed by 30% to 40%, following
the equipment manufacturer's bankruptcy. In addition, the former
workers at the Flextronics Montreal plant, previously part of
Nortel, saw their Retiring Allowance Plan reduced by 90%!
Consequently, the Teamsters Union is demanding that the government
amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act so that workers are elevated
to the preferred creditor priority level. The Teamsters are also
suggesting that the government enact legislation on acquisitions of
Canadian companies by foreign owners, in order to force employers to
comply with the collective agreements that bind them to their
"The demographic situation is in the process of changing," explained
Mr. Bouvier. "The baby boomers will be retiring in the very near
future, and it will put considerable pressure on private and public
pension plans. We must tackle this situation now, while we still
The address given by Dr. Robert Roberts, president, chief executive
officer, and chief scientific officer of the University of Ottawa
Heart Institute, informed us that Canadians' life expectancies will
increase appreciably in the coming decades. This situation will put
considerable pressure on pension plans because Canadians will live
The National Pension Forum came to the following consensus:
industry's main stakeholders, companies, and governments must
imperatively reform pension plans within the very next years.
Otherwise, the financial health of Canadian pensioners will quickly
deteriorate over the next two or three decades.
"Minister Flaherty confirmed that significant reform of pension
plans was necessary, and the Quebec government offered its
assistance to the Nortel retirees," concluded Mr. Bouvier. "But we
must not forget the people of Flextronics who are feeling the direct
effects of the Nortel bankruptcy. We are going to continue the
battle to bring them justice."
The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all
trades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which
Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North