a weekly blog for all interested in professional communications issues

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anatomy of an issue

There was an interesting event Monday on Parliament Hill that said a lot about how government and the media respond to important issues.

No, I am not talking about the protestors who disrupted Question Period and got tossed out of the House of Commons. Nor am I talking about the Opposition attacking the government for pork barrel spending in Tory ridings.

The Liberals were holding a pension forum in which expert after expert painted a very grim picture for most of Canadians' retirement because of regulations and policies that are decades out of date. Some 11 million Canadians have no pension at all.

Canadians are just waking up to the fact they have very little protection of their pension benefits in the event of a bankruptcy like Nortel. The Nortel pension victims protested on Parliament Hill last week and they were out in force at Monday's pension forum.

There wasn't much coverage in the media. But a few months ago there would have been no coverage. The media are just beginning to pay attention to this issue after years of neglect. Pensions are now regarded as a looming crisis by the media.

Meanwhile, the government continued to dismiss the plight of the Nortel retirees as a provincial matter. However, Ottawa has begun to talk about updating pension rules after years of silence.

Pension experts have been warning for years of a crisis in retirement as baby boomers leave the work force. Yet this issue simply has not had any traction with either media or the politicians until recently. In fact, a parliamentary inquiry warned of a looming retirement disaster 25 years ago.

It takes film footage of Nortel retirees wondering how they they will survive in retirement for the media and government to finally pay attention.

Perhaps Canadians should be wondering why it take media and government so long to wake up to issues that affect so many.

As always, I welcome any comment on this issue.

1 comment:

  1. It's issues like these that have me terrified of growing up and being responsible for the government's past and current mistakes. I don't even want to think about what will happen when I reach my 30s and everyone of my mom's generation retires.