Special House of Commons debate shows broad-based support for expanded CPP
Ottawa (25 November 2010) – CPP expansion is the option with the most backing from federal parties, according to a special “take note” debate on the topic of pension reform held Tuesday evening, November 23. “Take-note” debates see the Commons form as the committee of the whole to discuss policy decisions before the government.
Neither the governing Conservatives, the NDP nor the Bloc appear to support the “voluntary supplemental plan” backed by the federal Liberals and Alberta Finance and Enterprise Minister Ted Morton seems to be off the table.
Ted Menzies, parliamentary secretary to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty charged with the pension reform, stated that the provinces have ruled out a voluntary supplemental plan.
“We also ruled out ideas we collectively determined cannot work. For instance, along with our provincial and territorial partners, we examined the notion of creating another supplemental, government-run pension plan. The verdict was unanimous. This was not a good idea. Ontario's Liberal finance minister, Dwight Duncan, has firmly and publicly rejected the supplemental plan as ‘very costly to set up and administer’The consensus of governments and public interest groups from across the political spectrum has been that this would be costly, ineffective and, ultimately, a misguided solution."
On this point, Wayne Marston, the NDP pensions critic, agreed, but argued for cutting corporate tax reductions to put more money into OAS, and defended a doubling of Canadian Pension Plan payouts.
“Canada Pension Plan is the best pension plan we have,” he said. “A voluntary supplemental plan won't work, since only those who already have money will contribute.”
NDP MP Linda Duncan alluded to strong popular support for change in light of the collapse in RRSP saving: “…there is a rising percentage of Canadians who do not have the money to buy RRSPs. [The Conservatives] seem to be completely unaware that in the crash of the economy under their watch, a large number of Canadians lost their life savings in these supposedly sound RRSPs, which is precisely why they are calling upon us to plead the case to double the CPP.”
BQ MP Luc Desnoyers spoke in support of both CPP expansion for future retirees and an increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors facing poverty today: “Doubling benefits would help lift retired workers over the poverty line. When future CPP and QPP benefits are increased, the guaranteed income supplement must also be substantially increased at the same time.”
Unfortunately, despite the almost total rejection of the supplemental plan being pushed by Morton and the federal Liberals, and the almost unanimous support for increasing CPP, there is still work that needs to be done to push this badly needed reform home.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has stated that they would not impose reforms against provincial opposition. Alberta’s continued opposition to CPP expansion is still blocking the national consensus on pension reform. Canadians need to let the Alberta government know that it does not speak for the rest of the country, and to increase the pressure on him provincial government to just say yes to real pension reform.
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