Quebec also 'lukewarm' to national pension reforms under consideration by Canada's finance ministers.
Ottawa (17 Sept. 2010) - Canada Pension Plan (CPP) reforms proposed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty are bogging down because of opposition from the provinces, primarily Alberta and Quebec.
When Flaherty last met with finance ministers in Prince Edward Island in June, he announced that a majority of his colleagues were in favour of taking steps to improve Canada's national pension system, including the CPP.
His hope at the time was for officials to come up with a plan by fall that could be included in the next federal budget in the spring of 2011.
The Toronto Globe and Mail says two teams of bureaucrats were subsequently assigned to the task, one to look at enhancing the CPP and the other to design a new pension option to be run by the private sector in workplaces where no company pension is offered.
The hope was to have concrete proposals ready in time for the next meeting of finance ministers in December.
However, this is not going to happen, says Keith Ambachtsheer, director of the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management, who has had discussions with provincial officials working on the two proposals.
Ambachtsheer told the Globe the best finance ministers can hope for at their next meeting is to narrow down broad proposals to more specific options.
"I’d be surprised if either one of these tracks was developed far enough along to actually make a spring budget,” he told the newspaper. “I could be wrong. Miracles do happen, sometimes. But these are very complex areas. Both of them. And the reality is that principles are a lot easier to express than having concrete, actionable programs that actually work."
The biggest hurdle appears to be Alberta's Conservative government, which opposes any changes to the existing CPP and wants national reforms confined to pension options run by the private sector.
"Quebec has also been lukewarm," the Globe adds.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been one of the most vocal Canadian unions calling for extensive pension reforms, including a gradual doubling of benefits and higher premiums for employers who fail to offer private pension coverage for their employees.
Poll results released this week by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) show that Alberta is out of step with its citizens in opposing CPP reforms. The survey found that 66% of Albertans support an increase in CPP benefits. Only 19% would be opposed. A separate CUPE survey of British Columbians found that 75% support increased CPP benefits compared to 20% who are opposed.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE