In their own words: What the local candidates are saying re: CPP & labour market information

As of today (Thursday, October 1, 2015), the 2015 federal election is just over three weeks away.  The polls continue to have all three main parties within percentage points of each other.   The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce wrote to the candidates in the Peterborough-Kawartha riding asking them to respond to five questions with local business significance.  Each candidate was asked to keep their responses to 500 words per question.  Captured in this article are the answers to two of the questions.  The answers to the remaining three questions will be published in the next few weeks.  

What is your party’s position on (and why)?:

1. Increasing the allowable contribution level to CPP by employees to help encourage further retirement savings?

Dave Nickle, NDP: Middle-class families are worried about their retirement. They’re working harder and harder, but falling further behind. Too many Canadians won’t have enough savings for a secure retirement. As many as 5.8 million Canadians - nearly a third of our work force - are facing a steep decline in their standard of living when they retire, according to the CIBC’s chief economist. For many young Canadians, the situation will be worse. The Canada and Québec Pension Plans are proven, reliable savings vehicles. The health of the Plan is closely monitored by the Chief Actuary of Canada. But the challengesfacing Canadians who plan for retirement today, are vastly different than those facing their parents and grand-parents, a generation ago. Only about one third of Canadians now have access to a workplace pension plan, down from 41% a little over two decades ago. That is why we need to strengthen the CPP to ensure all Canadians can retire in dignity.  Canadians overwhelmingly support increasing the CPP to help them top-up their retirement savings. 

Tom Mulcair and the NDP will ensure CPP delivers retirement security.  Within six months of forming government, Tom Mulcair and the NDP will convene Canada’s First Ministers to develop broad-based agreement on enhancing CPP benefits.  We will seek agreement to establish key benchmarks and timelines for enhancements and ensure that any changes are implemented in a way that complements Canada’s economic recovery.  The process will include consultations with both business and labour and will consider and respect provincial proposals for pension enhancement as well as existing programs.

Maryam Monsef, Liberal: Providing an opportunity for Canadians to save for their retirement is an important responsibility of government. We presently have a number of tools that enable Canadians to do this including RRSPs, TFSAs, the CPP, the OAS and the GIS. 

Some of these tools provide their benefit based on a person’s income, with the greatest impact going to those who earn the most. Others are targeted at those with little income and still others address the needs of middle class Canadians.

In examining how to reform our system and encourage people to save more for their retirement, I believe the emphasis needs to be on middle and lower income Canadians first.

I believe one of the best ways to do this is through an enhanced CPP that followsthe current model of being jointly funded by employers and employees, and whose investments are managed by an arm’s length body.

Ensuring Canadians can enjoy their retirement after a lifetime of work is the right thing to do. It also makes good economic sense. The more income retirees have, the more purchasing power they possess and the more they can support local businesses and the economy.

Mike Skinner, Conservative:   

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
The purpose of the CPP is to provide contributors and their families with modest basic earnings replacement upon the retirement, disability or death of a wage earner. 

Approximately $37.3 billion in benefits was paid to almost 5.2 million Canadians (2013–2014). These benefits are comprised of retirement pensions, disability, death, survivor and children’s benefits. Quebec operates its own comprehensive public pension plan, the Quebec Pension Plan. The 26th Actuarial Report on the CPP was tabled in Parliament in December 2013, confirming that the CPP remains financially sustainable at the current 9.9 per cent legislated contribution rate for the next 75 years. 

Old Age Security (OAS) Program
The OAS program is a non-contributory, residence-based program, financed through general tax revenues. 

The objective of the OAS program is to provide a minimum level of income to seniors aged 65 and over in recognition of the contribution that they have made to Canadian society and the economy. 

In 2013–2014, the OAS program provided $42.6 billion in benefits to 5.4 million beneficiaries.

In Budget 2012, the Government announced several initiatives for the OAS program: a proactive enrolment regime that will eliminate the need for many seniors to apply for OAS benefits as it is phased in, beginning in 2013; the voluntary deferral of the OAS pension for up to five years in exchange for a higher, actuarially-adjusted pension of up to 36 per cent by age 70, effective July 1, 2013; and a gradual increase to the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) from age 65 to 67, starting in April 2023, with full implementation by January 2029. 

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
The GIS is an income-tested monthly benefit paid to OAS pensioners with little or no income other than the OAS pension. Along with the OAS pension, the GIS ensures that the overall income of eligible seniors does not fall below a specified threshold. 

The OAS program plays a critical role in keeping the income of most low-income seniors above Statistics Canada’s after-tax Low Income Cut-Offs. 

Budget 2011 enhanced the GIS by providing a top-up of up to $600 annually for the lowest-income single seniors and $840 for the lowest-income senior couples (indexed quarterly). This represents an investment of more than $300 million per year for close to 680 000 seniors across Canada, and is the largest increase
for the lowest-income GIS recipients in a quarter century. 

In addition the Government has: 

  • Increased the GIS by a total of $36 per month for unattached seniors and $58 per month for couples, in January 2006 and January 2007, representing a 7 percent increase of the monthly GIS amount over and above regular indexation; 
  • Increased the GIS earnings exemption from a maximum of $500 to $3,500, which allows GIS recipients who work to keep more of their hard-earned money (Budget 2008); and 
  • Reduced the onus on seniors by introducing automatic GIS renewal for seniors who file annual income taxes. 


2. The need for detailed labour market information that is important for businesses, educational institutions and communities to plan for the future. 

Maryam Monsef, Liberal: I believe that valid labour market information is critical for servicing individual businesses as well as for community planning. I was so disappointed with the Conservative’s cancellation of the long form census. The census yielded essential information and data that was used to inform labour market planning. 

Calling on the government to take a science-based approach to policy development—rather than being driven by rigid ideological positions—is not political rhetoric. It is an approach that addresses the best interests of our businesses and community.

Locally, we are fortunate to be serviced by the Workforce Development Board. This organization brings together labour, business, trainers, educators and government in a collaborative effort to understand the labour needs of our community today and tomorrow. The WDB works with employers to understand the skills their employees need and to inform both trainers and potential employees about the type of education and training they ought to seek. Further, the WDB works to project these needs into the future, which helps students make informed decisions about their career path.

Assisting the development of labour market information is an important part of my local jobs plan.

Mike Skinner, Conservative:  There is a great website called Working in Canada. It provides detailed information on local labour markets – here it is for the Peterborough region. 

Dave Nickle, NDP: The NDP believes that good data is essential to make government work. It allows government to effectively target and evaluate programs, thus, improving service quality and lowering costs.  The NDP fought tooth and nail to prevent the Conservatives from eliminating the long-form census. The NDP believes that the long-form census must be restored to provide social scientists, governments, communities and businesses the data they need. We also tabled Bill C-346 to reinstate Statistics Canada’s long-form census and increase the independence of the Chief Statistician. 

The NDP strongly supports an evidence-based approach to policy making, which requires robust support for research and data gathering.  This federal government has, however, fired thousands of scientists and cancelled the long-form census, hurting our ability to gather information. 

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Federal Candidates PBX at The Junction, October 6th from 4-6pm.  The candidates will be answering the question “What is your personal statement to the business community?”


Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

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