Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ontario Should Consider Merits of Pension Reform

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ontario Should Consider Merits of Pension Reform

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Ontario should consider merits of pension reform

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published Nov. 25:

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak quickly received arrows when he floated the notion this month of doing away with defined benefit pension plans for provincial employees.

But those pulling the bowstrings seemed at least as intent at having zinger media quotes on the issue, and playing politics over it, than considering the possible merits of the proposal.

Hudak asserted that Ontario taxpayers are supporting a pattern of pension benefit for provincial workers that has become a financial burden because of its fixed rate of payout and its reliance on growth of investments in volatile and recently underperforming markets. That's true. Taxpayers are facing pressure over pension-funding liabilities linked to this type of retirement benefit, and this fiscal challenge only looks to become greater in years to come with an aging provincial workforce.

But his pitch was undermined by his suggestion that what provincial employees have now is a "gold-plated pension."

Ontario's provincial employee's pensions are not fat-cat offerings. In advancing his alternative policy position, Hudak would have been better off to more neutrally term them generous packages.

They're ones that exceed the model that's becoming most commonly available and widely regarded as equitable in the private sector - defined contribution plans. The present model of provincial retirement support plans also seems incredibly good to the many Ontarians without any employer pension benefit.

Perhaps if Hudak had backed off on the rhetorical framing surrounding this suggestion, it would not have been as swiftly dismissed with matching political language like being termed such things as "an attack on the middle class" and the stuff of tea party platforms. …

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