VETS AND RCMP PAID SUPER ANNUITY,
NOW THEY WANT IT
PENSIONS DISAPPEAR INTO THIN AIR
JOHN LABELLE, VETERANS ADVOCATE, NOVA SCOTIA—VOICE FILE PPHOTO
An open letter from Canadian veterans to MP Darren Fisher, Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
r. Fisher and members of the Liberal caucus, on behalf of Veteran’s Reina MacNeil, Mel Pittman, J.P. Martinello and Veterans Committees across Canada, we wish to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today with regards to the CPP Pension claw back affecting our Military/RCMP veterans pension and the financial position of their families at age 65, or sooner, if in receipt of a CPP disability pension.
The purpose of this meeting is to convince all Nova Scotia Liberal Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action before the next Federal election campaign against terminating the CPP benefit reduction formula.
THE CRUX OF THE ISSUE
Military/RCMP veterans maintain that in 1965/66, the Government of Canada deliberately or otherwise imposed on them a gross injustice by the so-called merging rather than separating their CPP Super Annuity contributions and benefits. In fact, the Government of Canada has breached our pension enrolment contract without prior consultation with the members.
During our enrolment procedures, we were promised that we'd benefit from a full pension after 25 years of service calculated at two per cent of the best six years of our rate of pay. This CPP clawback also affects veterans drawing CPP disability benefits. This action was taken without veterans consultation nor was legal representation available.
Today, our maximum contributions to both plans continues to be listed separately on their pay guide, given them a false sense of Financial Security. Furthermore, the vast majority of serving personnel were not informed of the CPP benefits claw back plan until they arrived at age 65.
SURPLUS ANNUITY FUNDS
The Canadian Forces Annual Annuity/Pension report ending 31 March 2013 indicated that they where 86,305 retired Military Annuitants in receipt of an Annuity under the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act. Only $2.673 B was required to pay their annual annuity under the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act for the year 2013. The RCMP report was estimated to show that there were 12,331 RCMP pensioners and the cost to administer their pension was estimated at $500 million dollars.
It is estimated that the termination of the CPP benefit reduction program may affect 50,000 pensioned Veterans over the age of 65. At present the CFSA account exceeds $62 B. More than sufficient surplus funds are available to terminate the CPP Benefit Reduction Program. These surplus pension funds are considered to be a sacred trust obligation to the financial welfare of forces personnel and to the financial dignity of their families during their retirement "Golden Years".
On January 1, 1966 the Canadian Forces employee’s contributions rate was reduced from 9.3% to 7.5% to accommodate the CPP contributions. So the reduced Super Annuity contributions to our CFSA has accumulated a Military surplus of over $62 B. It clearly indicates that contributions to the CFSA are more than sufficient to pay for our benefits without a reduction clause.
You are aware that the Canada Pension Plan was introduced in 1965/66. Its intention was to provide another source for an "Income security" program supplementing the Old Age Security plan. With regards to the CPP, the employees and the employers each pay half of the required contributions. In 1966, the Government levied the rate of contribution for forces personnel at 1.8% of basic earnings.
Over the year, the rates increased to 4.95%. It is noted that none of the increases were taken from our Military/RCMP pension contributions. How can a 1.8% contribution consist of a 100% CPP benefits reduction at age 65? During the 2014 fiscal year, the CPP funds have reached a surplus of $268.6 B. CPP funds are going to grow more than $15 Trillion by 2009.
The words "bridge benefits" are not listed in the Financial Counsellors Manual — A-FN-109/ID-001, and furthermore, the manual was never made available to serving personnel. The "Bridge Benefit" is a myth that was never heard of prior to the establishment of our Super Annuity Campaign. Veterans are asking when does the benefit start? At age 60 if a veteran applies for their CPP pension they were penalized .5% monthly. ow (.6%) for a total of 36%. The statement that veterans are getting "100% of what they paid for" isn't a true statement, otherwise their pension plan would not have accumulated a surplus of over $82 B.
By law, Military/RCMP veterans are not part of the Public Service of Canada. We are a distinct arm of the government and have encountered a varying number of issues on a regular basis.
What financial values can you associate to the following statements applicable to the loss of revenue to veterans and their families.
• As a result of numerous moves, spouses faced the loss of employment/income opportunities which resulted in the decrease of Spousal CPP Benefits
• Loss of members overtime opportunities resulted in the loss of the member’s second income revenues
• The ability to purchase a home and be mortgage-free during a career
• Veterans served far abroad on numerous 24/7, 16 hour days of operational requirements
• Veterans often faced dangerous conditions, health hazards and dealt with the stress of extended family separation
• Canadian Forces/RCMP personnel were prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice to our country
We have received many very positive comments of support from senior officers of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP. To date 121 former colonels and 54 former officers of the rank of generals have signed our petition.
• The highest decorated Officer of the Canadian Forces • Colonel (ret’d) Don Ethell, Major-General (ret’d) • Lewis MacKenzie, Commodore (ret’d) • David Cogdon, RCMP Deputy Commissioner (ret’d) • Larry R. Proke • Mr. Bill Gidley • Executive Director of RCMP Veterans • Former Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer John Marr • Former Maritime Command Chief Petty Officer, Lt (N) Joe Fillion • Mr. Jack Frost, Dominion Command President of the Royal Canadian Legion
This initiative continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Over 112,500 veterans support it. Numerous military associations have declared their support of the objective as well.
As a former commissioner with the Canadian Pension and Appeal Board, I know that such initiative could be remedied by the Commissioner’s Executive with a simple "White Paper", followed by a request to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for the needed action and amendment to the Pension Act and its policies.
Also be advised that Veterans believe that it is a waste of time to table a Bill for a future date and/or table a motion in the House of Commons. Veterans will not believe in a promise to fix their outstanding CPP issue after the next election campaign from a result of being lied to in the past on too many occasions by party leaders that made false promises.
It is time to put Politics aside and for all Members of Parliament to demonstrate their recognition and appreciation, in a tangible way, to the men and women who have gallantly served and are currently serving our country. Take action to terminate this undemocratic, unfair and unjust CPP pension benefit reduction that has been imposed on Military/RCMP veterans and their families without fair and open consultation. This misguided policy violates the principal of democracy, fairness and justice as it affects the financial welfare of veterans and their families in their "Golden Years".
Let us remind you that this is a veterans issue, that all Liberal MP’s and the Prime Minister of Canada have voted yes on Bill C-201 and many other bills presented in the House of Commons. It will cost the taxpayers nothing.
Over $62 B surplus is available in our Super Annuity account. Military/RCMP veterans and their families are a distinct part of the government.
Many spouses have given up their career advancements to support our forces personnel. Surely our Nova Scotia Liberal Members of Parliament can stand together and initiate an action to resolve this important veterans issue before the next federal election campaign.
We live in a free country today because over 100,000 Canadian service members died on fields of battle since 1914. All were prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice and some many did. Military/RCMP veterans and their families deserve nothing less. Veterans and their families deserve to be treated with fairness, justice and dignity.
It has been an honour
and a privilege to serve our country
We stand together for tomorrow