For generations, workers either stayed on the job until they died, or because they were too ill or old to work any longer, retired into a life of poverty.
Together, workers said enough. Canadians that had worked their lives for an employer should not be used up and thrown away when they got too old to be of use to their employer. Workers who are too old to work and too young to die should live their remaining years in dignity.
Together, workers negotiated pension plans in their workplaces. They arranged for part of their wages to be set aside, so that it would be there for them when they retired. They also got employers to contribute, in recognition of the service to (and profits made for) employers during their careers.
Workers didn’t just demand dignity in retirement for themselves. They demanded public pensions for all Canadians, whether in paid work or not. Workers fought for and won Old Age Security in 1952, the Canada Pension Plan in 1965, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement in 1966. Together, this country’s public pensions are responsible for Canada having one of the lowest old-age poverty rates in the industrialized world.