Canadian pension fund assets are second in size only to the combined financial assets of the major banks and have become a critical source of capital for national and international markets. Given their tax-exempt status, pension funds can provide the long-term capital needed to build a new ecomy based on real productivity. The funds are controlled by an intricate web of financial and legal standards but, as deferred wages, are largely beyond the control of workers or their unions. In Pension Power, Isla Carmichael argues that unions could<—>and should<—>have a new role to play in the ecomy by gaining control over their members' pension funds. She demonstrates how the financial industry's access to the capital goes against the interests of working people, and she provides convincing evidence that union management of pensions would better protect benefits and offer support in building infrastructure in communities and protecting the environment. This is a work of singular commitment to a fundamental shift in the structure of managing one of Canada's largest pools of capital.
Isla Carmichael is the director of policy for the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, and a sessional lecturer at the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.