at 12:19 on March 13, 2009, EDT.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA - The federal government is being urged to make immediate and dramatic reforms to pension plan rules in Canada, but there's little consensus on what those changes should look like.
The first of a series of cross-Canada public consultations produced several conflicting views on how the Conservative government can fulfil a budgetary promise to take the pressure off beleaguered pension plans.
The most radical proposal came from a group representing federal public service retirees, who want all existing registered pension plans moved into an exponentially improved Canada Pension Plan that would boost retirement benefits for all Canadians.
Ted Menzies, the government's junior finance minister, presided over the two-hour meeting and plans to present a report to Parliament in June for legislative reforms that are promised by the end of this year.
A representative of Bell Canada spoke for a group of seven large federally regulated plans when he urged Ottawa to make permanent changes that will ease solvency valuations that have resulted in wild swings in companies' pension plan funding requirements.
But Ken Georgetti of the Canadian Labour Congress countered with a blistering attack on what he called corporate irresponsibility during the 15-year economic boom that preceded the current pension crisis.