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The Third Rail: Confronting Our Pension Failures [Hardcover]

Jim Leech , Jacquie McNish
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 29 2013 0771046634 978-0771046636
Over the next 20 years more than 7 million Canadian workers will retire. Baby boomers, the 45- to 65-year-olds who account for 42% of the country's workforce, will join the largest job exodus in Canadian history, moving to the promised land of retirement. Unless our crumbling pension system is reformed, many of these retirees will find this dreamland a bewildering and disappointing mirage.

In the early 1980s, consumers were setting aside 20% of their disposable incomes to their retirement plans; today the savings rate is a threadbare 2.5%. Retirement savings plans meant to build Canadians' personal war chests for their final years have failed to live up to their cheery promises of early retirement "freedom" - market returns are low, and financial fees are climbing. Moreover, retirement plans are now being compromised by high pension obligations and a shrinking workforce.

Canada has the capacity to diffuse this ticking pension time bomb with some hard choices, posits Leech. It's time for businesses, governments, unions, and employees to face these options and fix - and ultimately save - our pensions system, taking examples from Holland, New Brunswick, and Rhode Island - places in which new laws have been adopted to repair the pensions programs.

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Product Description


   • "Possibly clearer than any book on pensions thus far.... This is a powerful message for Canada's ministers and their officials to contemplate.... The book should be required reading for our political leaders before they meet." Globe and Mail

About the Author

Before becoming president and CEO of the OTPP in 2007, JIM LEECH was president and CEO of Unicorp Canada Corporation, one of Canada's first public merchant banks, and Union Energy Inc., then one of North America's largest integrated energy and pipeline companies. During the 1990s, he guided two start-up technology companies -- DisysCorporation and Kasten Chase Applied Research - to the revenue generation stage. Leech serves on the boards of Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation, the MasterCard Foundation and was a founding director of Right To Play International. He also chairs the advisory board of the Queen's School of Business and is on the advisory board for The Learning Partnership, the advisory council for the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the Toronto Financial Services Leadership Council. In 2012, Leech was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of his work with the True Patriot Love Foundation.

JACQUIE McNISH is a senior writer with the Globe and Mail and regular host on BNN, Canada's business news network. She is the winner of five National Newspaper Awards and the author of two bestselling books.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time July 3 2014
It is a well written narrative of the troubles - large deficits in meeting pension obligations, experienced by pension plans across a few cities in North America. As good narratives go, it provides human and circumstantial contexts of the issues, the resulting actions (imprudent in case of Central Falls), and a description of what will/should be the new normal for pension plans. The resulting actions, with the exception of Central Falls, were solutions that were drawn by studying the Dutch model.

In presenting the Dutch model the authors provide an adequate amount of history. They also describe the changes that this benchmark Dutch model is going through.

In summary, this book includes a good blend of scientific facts and the human stories that make for an engaging read.

My personal generalization from reading the book: The narrative provides a reminder that when faced with challenging circumstances one must resist the temptation to maintain status quo.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Every Canadian Should Read This June 23 2014
By Dan S
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a topic that will impact almost all Canadians, many directly and to a large degree. To date, most people have had their heads firmly planted in the sand, reading this book would be a great first step towards pulling them out.
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Format:Kindle Edition
Was a good read for me as I am preparing to address a conference on the topic of the Future of Defined Contribution in Canada.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Ontario Pension Plan and two others May 16 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The writing was poor ; the other examples were poor and there was little insight in how to convince employers to stay with defined benefit plans.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Thi9rd Rail Feb. 5 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written and informative. Brings light to what is a very important challenge to modern society.Good models of reform proposed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Short on solutions Jan. 29 2014
An interesting read though the conclusion(s) was pretty obvious. We all have to share the risk when it comes to pension savings and payouts. But in the end we will all see reduced benefits.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An exquistiely important book for our demographic Jan. 20 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This information is so impritant to us and others in our demographic. We need to take care of ourselves because the goverment is not going to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Serious Risk of Future Financial Support Jan. 20 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Every young person in this country should read this. They can't assume they will be taken care of without some serious watchdog effort being carried out by them for their long term financial interest.
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