Pension Plans Should Not Invest in Companies That Harm Working People

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1897 ... September 25, 2019
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Pension Plans Should Not Invest in Companies That Harm Working People

Steven Tufts

Of all the gains unions have made for workers, the ability to retire with dignity and a pension is perhaps the most valued. Last year employers and employees in Canada contributed over $70-billion to registered pension plans (RPP). It is big money. Still, just over a third of workers are covered by RPPs as most rely on the more modest Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS).

The inequality among retirees created by different pension benefits is obvious. There are, however, other contradictions of pension fund capital. These are noted in a recent collection, The Contradictions of Pension Fund Capitalism, edited by Kevin Skerrett and colleagues. Workers continue to contribute to plans that have the "fiduciary responsibility" to deliver a return -- even if the investments harm workers and communities.

As the financial capital of Canada, Toronto is at the centre of these contradictions. Not only are the largest pension funds managed on Bay Street, but the city’s... burgeoning real estate and technology sectors are lucrative investment targets. The transformative role pension fund capital attempts to play in shaping urban centres can be seen with two examples involving Toronto’s waterfront.

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