Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: End the Dithering on Pension Reform

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: End the Dithering on Pension Reform

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: End the dithering on pension reform


An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Dec. 22:

It's becoming a December ritual. Every year Canada's federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers get together before Christmas to discuss economic priorities and every year pension reform comes up. The outcome is always the same: federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty finds a way to delay any action.

He's done it again. Arguing that the economy is too weak to boost the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and he needs unanimous approval from the provinces before moving, Flaherty proposed that federal and provincial officials study the problem for six months and draft a strategy to boost contribution rates.

This is the third study Flaherty has ordered, keeping the issue in abeyance since the 2008-2009 recession.

The first, written by Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary, produced the result Ottawa wanted. The Alberta tax specialist declared Canada's retirement income system adequate and said there is no immediate need for reform. "Canadians are, by and large, doing relatively well in ensuring that they have adequate savings for their retirement," he wrote. "Overall, the Canadian retirement income system is performing well."

The second study, undertaken by federal bureaucrats, posed more of a challenge for Flaherty. It found that Canada lags behind most industrial countries in providing income security for retired workers. The principal reason it cited was that workers and employers contribute relatively little, compared to their counterparts in Europe and the United States, to a public pension plan. And it concluded that a modest expansion of the CPP was quite affordable.

That was the backdrop for last week's gathering in Meech Lake, Que. Several provincial ministers, led by Dwight Duncan of Ontario, pushed for an enhancement of the CPP. It now provides a retired full-time worker with a maximum of $12,500 a year. That is not enough to live on, even combined with Old Age Security to which every Canadian senior is entitled. It pays a maximum of $6,552 a year.

Rather than responding with an outright no, Flaherty resorted to his usual tactic, commissioning yet another study. …

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