The Third Rail Book Cover


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 defuse 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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Author Bios

Jim Leech

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

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 six National Newspaper Awards and the author of two best selling books including The Big Score, Robert Friedland, Inco and the Voisey’s Bay Hustle and Wrong Way: The Fall of Conrad Black, which she co-wrote with Sinclair Stewart and was the recipient of the 2005 National Business Book award.

  • " Your book, along with Bruce Little's "Fixing The Future: How Canada's Usually Fractious Governments Worked Together To Rescue The Canadian Pension Plan" should be the required reading list for anyone considering some measure of pension reform. "

    Wesley J. Sheridan - Prince Edward Island Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs MInister
  • " The authors not only describe the causes of the impending crisis and its potential consequences, they offer solutions to avert the disaster.” "

    Joel Schlesinger, Winnipeg Free Press
  • " It is not just another dull pensions book full of demographic projections, mortality tables, balance sheet funded ratios, and investment strategies. Instead, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan chief executive officer Jim Leech and senior Globe and Mail writer Jacquie McNish have written a compelling narrative on the growing gaps that have emerged in Canada's retirement income system, and what we can and must do to close them. In short, they offer our political leaders and the rest of us a clear 21st-century pension vision for Canada and a roadmap to achieve it. "

    Keith Ambachtsheer
  • " The book is a surprisingly accessible read and totally persuasive in its argument that workers, unions, politicians and business need to collaborate on ways to help people better prepare financially for retirement. Most importantly, it offers pragmatic solutions that have worked to solve pension challenges in places such as New Brunswick and Rhode Island. "

    Rob Carrick, The Globe and Mail
  • " The book is essential reading for decision-makers. And an indispensable primer for voters — the people who ultimately call the shots, and who will pay the price if the pension peril is put off for another day "

    Martin Regg Cohn – Toronto Star

Latest Blog Posts

The Reviews Keep Coming In!

Posted by: The Third Rail | Posted on: November 12th, 2013

Thank you Pages & Patches for the great review! Glad you enjoyed the book. 

See the review here.

Here’s to a Fantastic Launch Week!

Posted by: The Third Rail | Posted on: November 1st, 2013

Signing Books

It has been an incredible week. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank so many of you who have supported the launch of our new book.

We also wanted to thank so many of you for being part of this important national discussion around the third rail of Canadian politics: pension reform. There is urgency associated with changing the debate about pensions in Canada and it’s critical that we move away from pension envy.

See what the Toronto Star had to say about The Third Rail here.


We need to move into a space where every part of society – from government to business to labour leadership to individuals – recognize their responsibly to be part of the solution. The good news is that while we are certainly at a critical point, it’s not too late to act.

See what The Globe and Mail had to say about The Third Rail here.

We will be visiting cities across Canada over the next few weeks and we look forward to meeting many more of you and continuing the discussion about this important issue.

~Jim and Jacquie


Jim Leech Discusses Canadian Pensions

Posted by: The Third Rail | Posted on: November 1st, 2013

Jim Leech discusses the three fundamental changes needed to drive meaningful pension reform.

Check out the video below: