CALGARY – The federal Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies said Tuesday he thinks it’s only a matter of time before all the provinces lay the framework for pooled registered pension plans.
The federal government has passed and given Royal Assent to new legislation for the registered pooled pension plan concept, a voluntary system that allows workers to contribute but does not require employers to chip in.
The issue was discussed at length Monday at a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers, Menzies said.
Some provinces have said they will go ahead with implementing legislation and despite some opposition from Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan, Menzies expects it will be unanimous. Ottawa hasn’t placed any deadline for it to be in place.
“It depends on which day you ask I guess. We had consensus in December 2010 amongst all finance ministers to proceed with the framework for the pool registered pension plans and the provincial finance minister from Ontario said they would proceed,” said Menzies, who was in Calgary for pre-budget consultations.
“(Duncan’s) preference is still an expanded Canada Pension Plan but he was comfortable yesterday with the fact there wasn’t consensus to move forward with an expansion of Canada Pension Plan at this time.”
Menzies is encouraging his provincial counterparts to move ahead with the necessary legislation as quickly as possible in order to create the harmonization that is not absolutely necessary but the preferred way to go.
“Pool registered pension plans don’t need to be harmonized to work but it certainly makes it easier,” he said.
“We have such a mobile workforce in this country if you move from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island this is your pension plan and you need to be able to take it with you.”
He said at this point there’s no point to move ahead with doing anything with the current Canada Pension Plan except minor tinkering.
“We said we would continue to analyze what a modest increase might mean and also what economic triggers would be required before an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan took place,” he said.
“Many of the ministers said this is not the time to add more costs to businesses. I share that concern.”
The New Democrats and the Canadian Labour Congress have proposed doubling what CPP would pay out over a seven-year period to an average $1,868 a month, arguing the enrichments can be covered through relatively modest premium hikes.
Other options include increasing pensionable earnings from the current $50,100 and the maximum benefit, now at 25 per cent of pensionable earnings.