Conservatives call on government to press pause, consult the public on CPP reform

OTTAWA – The Opposition Conservatives are calling on the federal government to press pause and hold consultations on an expanded Canada Pension Plan, saying there is no need to rush through changes that would affect those who retire in four decades.

But Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office says the public will have its say later, since the future of the Canada Pension Plan will be a key part of upcoming consultations for the 2017 federal budget.

Public opinion polls suggest the majority of Canadians support the idea of paying more now in contributions to get more later in benefits, even as small businesses have voiced opposition.

Conservative finance critic Lisa Raitt says Canadians would rethink their support for the idea if there were a more fulsome picture of the ripple effects an expanded CPP will have on the country.

She says there should be study on the effect on businesses and the economy so Canadians get a full idea of the cost that increased CPP premium rates will have on small businesses.

“If I tell you, would you like to have more money in your retirement, what are you going to say? Yes, yes I would like that,” Raitt said.

“If I told you you’re going to have more money in retirement, but it’s going to hit the economy and that summer job for your son or your daughter, that may not be available because we’re taxing businesses too much, what do you think the answer is going to be there? It won’t be as strong a yes.”

Only one province — Quebec, which has its own pension program —didn’t sign on to the expanded CPP finance ministers agreed to in principle at a meeting late last month. This week, one of the holdouts, Manitoba, said it would support the revamped program, referencing the Liberal commitment to an ongoing dialogue on the plan as a reason for its change of heart.

Morneau spokesman Dan Lauzon says feedback from pre-budget consultations along with “day-to-day interactions with stakeholders and the public” will be used during reviews of CPP that take place routinely every three years.

The agreement, reached last month, is set to be finalized by all involved on July 15.

Lauzon says the government “fully expects” the agreement to be confirmed by then.

In order to make major changes to the CPP, the federal government needs the support of seven out of 10 provinces representing two thirds of the population.