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Unifor calls for universal ORPP

TORONTO, March 31, 2015 /CNW/ - With only one-third of Ontario workers having a workplace pension, the province needs a universal and mandatory pension plan to ensure that workers can retire with dignity, Unifor told a legislative committee today.

"We have a chance here to create a universal pension plan that will benefit the workers of Ontario," Unifor Ontario Regional Director Katha Fortier told the Ontario Legislature's Standing Committee on Social Policy this afternoon. The Committee is reviewing Bill 56, the Liberal government proposal to establish the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) by 2017.

"We urge the province to take this opportunity to improve the retirement prospects for working people, particularly for the next generation of young workers."

Fortier told the Committee that pension coverage is particularly troubling in the private sector where only 24 per cent of workers have a workplace pension and less than 12 per cent have a defined benefit plan.

The decline in adequate workplace pensions and the growth of low wage, precarious jobs puts the retirement income of today's workers at risk.

"Women, recent immigrants and racialized seniors are at greatest risk," she said. "We need to act now to prevent a tragedy in the future."

Unifor strongly supports an ORPP that is mandatory and universal with shared contributions from both employers and employees, and includes low income and self-employed workers. Unifor opposes the proposal in Bill 56 that some employers be excluded from participating in the ORPP.  Allowing exclusions would undermine the advantages of a universal program, create administrative complications for employers and employees, and, in the end, leave many workers without a secure pension.

Fortier noted that the ORPP, to be implemented in 2017, must mirror the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) so that it can be wrapped into the CPP in the future. The CPP does not allow exclusions.  The Ontario government has stated that it will continue to advocate for an enhanced CPP.

To see Unifor's ongoing pension efforts, go to

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 158,000 in Ontario. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.