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April 23, 2014
Ontario appoints panel to develop provincial pension plan

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has appointed an expert panel to develop a made-in-Ontario pension to supplement the federal Canada Pension Plan (CPP.)

Heading the list of appointees is former prime minister Paul Martin, who played a key role in reforming the Canada Pension Plan in the 1990s when he was federal finance minister.

Also appointed to the advisory group are:  David Denison, former head of the Canada Pension Plan;
Bill Morneau, chairman of the Morneau Sheppell human resources and benefits consulting firm;
Joe Keohane, chief executive officer of the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan; Keith Ambachtscheer, director of the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management; Susan Eng, vice-president of advocacy for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP); and Melissa Kennedy, general counsel for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

The appointment of the group by Ontario follows several months of warnings by the province that Canada is heading for “a huge economic crisis” if the country doesn’t take action to improve retirement incomes.  The province initially favoured the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan’s payout level from 25 to 35 per cent of career average earnings.  It also favours increasing the joint employer-employee contribution from 9.9 per cent of pensionable earnings to 12.1 per cent.  (See the January 2014 edition of the Coughlin Courier for background.)

However, Ontario’s proposal was rejected by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.  The province has threatened to develop its own pension plan modelled on the CPP if its proposals were rejected. (See the November 2013 edition of the Coughlin Courier for background.)

Fewer than 35 per cent of the province’s workers have a workplace pension plan.

Ontario is not the only province that is prepared to develop its own pension plan. On December 12, 2013, Quebec Labour and Employment Minister Agnès Maltais unveiled the first draft of a new longevity pension that would provide all Quebec workers with a defined benefit pension beginning at age 75.   Key elements of that plan were based on the recommendations of the D’Amours Committee, a similar panel of experts assigned to study and develop a supplemental pension plan for that province.

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