Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fantino of the many pensions, his message to seniors & some senior budget reaction

Some background on Fantino's pension situation:
Fantino could not be in a more different position from the average senior in Canada. Fantino’s pension, based on back of the envelope math, is worth almost $120,000 per year. Consider:

After five years as OPP commissioner, Fantino would be entitled to collect at least $20,000 annually under the Ontario Public Service Pension plan.

For his thirty-six years of service in his various roles that use the OMERS pension plan (London police, Peel police, Toronto police), Fantino would collect at least $87,000 per year.

Additionally, he would receive CPP pension benefits. Given his high salary he would qualify for the annual maximum: $11,210

Totalled, that is at least $118,000 in annual pensions.

But the figure could be higher:

Fantino may be benefitting from what is known as an OMERS “Retirement Compensation Arrangement.” OMERS retirement compensation arrangement (RCA) is a separate trust fund that provides benefits to members whose pension benefit exceeds the pension benefit limit in the Income Tax Act and Regulation (ITA). See here for more info on RCA’s here.

Now when you consider that as an MP, he could potentially have a fourth pension, he really does have the golden pension scenario among seniors.

Fantino is of course entitled to his pensions – he earned them – but in terms of Fantino becoming the bridge to struggling seniors, I just don’t see it. If pensions remain a major policy issue heading into the winter session, Fantino is an absolutely brutal spokesperson on the issue and if anything, may become a major liability to Harper on pensions given how much he is receiving annually.
Now, here's the give to seniors in his government's budget that Mr. Fantino is the spokesperson for:
The federal government did as much as it could afford to do for seniors in its latest budget, putting money into the pockets of the neediest, Seniors Minister Julian Fantino says.
...
The new improvements will help low-income seniors with little or no income other than Old Age Security (OAS) and the GIS. Single seniors with an annual income of $2,000 or less (other than OAS and the GIS), and couples with an annual income of $4,000 or less, will receive the full amount of the benefit, which amounts to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.
That's about $50 per month on the $600 figure. Not nothing, but let's see some early reaction:
Also attending the event was Don Mills' Aubrey Martin, a grandfather of three.

He supports measures to help low-income seniors, but said Fantino's announcement didn't go far enough to help struggling seniors.

"I think it is a good idea. There are a lot of people out there (only) eking out a living," he said, adding the measures are a good first step, but should go further.

"The older people don't want to beg, but they want to be helped out. There are a lot of people out there who need assistance and they're too proud (to ask for it)."
And CARP:
Over 2,000 CARP members responding to the CARP poll since Budget Night [attached]:

Panned the Budget:

62% say it is NOT a budget which benefits older Canadians 58% say they do NOT agree with the budget overall 54% say the Opposition Parties should vote against the Budget

Weakened Support for Government:

47% say Budget makes them less likely to vote for the government 71% say Budget did NOT improve their opinion of the government since last week’s Speaker’s rulings
Have the Conservatives got the right spokesperson for what they're selling? Guess we'll see.