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TORONTO, Ont. – Liberal government promises of an Ontario pension plan fall well short of the universal, defined-benefit retirement security Ontarians need, and are being used as a smokescreen for more dangerous legislation, says Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. 

The government tabled two pieces of pension legislation at Queen’s Park yesterday, including a comprehensive act that enables the Harper government’s flawed Pooled Retirement Pension Plans (PRPPs), which the Liberals had previously opposed.

“On one hand, the Liberal government is acknowledging that millions of Ontarians don’t have real retirement security and require an expanded, public pension system, like the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).  On the other hand they’re enabling the Harper government’s PRPPs, which only really benefit the financial sector and which were designed to squash a badly needed CPP expansion,” said Hahn.  “The Liberals really need to decide if they’re siding with Ontarians in their retirement, or the banks in their profit-making.”

Bill 57 creates a framework to establish PRPPs in Ontario, something Stephen Harper’s Conservatives introduced to try and stop CPP expansion in 2011. Unlike CPP, which provides Canadian workers with a universal, publicly administered, defined-benefit pension plan, these PRPPs are voluntary and privately administered by banks and insurance companies. Like RRSPs, they are completely subject to the rollercoaster of the market.  In 2008, Ontarians relying on RRSPs, saw their retirement income slashed by up to 40 percent due to the global financial crisis.

“RRSPs have failed Ontarians in their retirement planning miserably, so why are the Liberals are enabling Harper’s PRPPs?” asks Hahn.  “Instead of having an honest conversation with Ontarians about their policy reversal on PRPPs, the Liberals are trying to distract people with vague legislative promises of an Ontario pension plan.”

Far less comprehensive, the second piece of pension legislation, Bill 56, calls on the government establish an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) by 2017, but remains vague on details other than that the plan won’t be universal – available to virtually all workers – like the CPP.

“Bill 56 is really just legislation that promises other legislation. It fails to address key plan design deficiencies, like universality, which organizations like CUPE Ontario have already raised with Minister Hunter and Premier Wynne,” says Hahn.

CUPE Ontario has expressed concern the proposed pension plan’s lack of universality will hamper any future integration into an expanded CPP, which could doom enhanced public pension coverage for all Canadian workers.

“It would be sad if the Liberals took a great idea like a universal public pension that benefits everyone and turned it into something narrow that could actually hamper expanded public pensions for all Canadians,” said Hahn. “There is still time for Kathleen Wynne to make the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan universal and scrap Harper’s ill-conceived Pooled Retirement Pension Plans.”

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.


For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316