Aug 29, 2019
Canada must strengthen pension rules to protect retirees, think tank says
Some TSX-listed firms prioritizing dividends over fully funding DB pensions: CCPA
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives renewed its call to expand the country’s pension regulations, arguing that companies are increasingly pushing retirement risks on workers in order to provide higher shareholder payouts.
In a report released Thursday, the CCPA said it found that pension funding ratios for the roughly 90 firms on the S&P/TSX Composite Index with defined benefit plans have been relatively flat since 2013, even as shareholder payments increased.
In 2017 the companies paid $16 billion in share buybacks and another $50 billion in dividends – about five times the value of their pension deficits of $12 billion, the report said.
“Many of the same companies bemoaning pension liabilities are spending multiple times more on their shareholders – money that could be used to keep pension plans solvent indefinitely,” the report said.
The CCPA made a number of recommendations to strengthen private sector pension plans and retirement security for Canadian workers.
They include revising regulations to focus on firms’ financial strength rather than on the financial status of the pension plan; limiting dividends and share buybacks when a pension plan falls below a specific threshold; as well as enhancing the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.