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By John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of Canada and Perrin Beatty, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As published in the National Post.
When Canada’s finance ministers meet in June to discuss retirement security for millions of Canadians, they will be faced with an important decision: Do we allow provinces to go it alone and create a fragmented pension system that varies from one jurisdiction to the next? Or do we come together and improve on a national system that benefits all Canadians, no matter where they live and how much income they earn?
This decision will impact Canadians for generations to come. We must get it right by strengthening our national retirement savings system through low-cost, effective improvements that target those most in need.
The finance ministers’ meeting in June comes at a time when some provinces have indicated they are prepared to move forward with their own reforms in the absence of an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan.
Having provincial governments go it alone with pension reform would be unfortunate for Canadians who deserve parity in retirement outcomes, regardless of the province they live in. The creation of a patchwork of provincial pension plans would result in retirement disparity among provinces and undermine labour mobility. Canadians must be free to move within Canada and carry their pensions with them.
We urge Canada’s leaders in the coming weeks and months to seek pension improvements that are cost-efficient and practical for provinces to implement. Fortunately, the issues at hand are well-defined and can be addressed with targeted solutions whose impact on the economy and, in particular, on labour costs and job creation, can be minimized while building upon the strength of Canada’s already sound retirement system.
We would support a national retirement savings solution that is consistent with the following guiding principles:
Hardworking Canadians deserve to know their retirement futures are secure, no matter where they live in Canada. We can achieve better retirement outcomes for all Canadians through national improvements to our system that protect our seniors, target those most in need, emphasize personal responsibility and avoid a provincial patchwork.
We urge Canada’s finance ministers to choose that option.