WATCH: NDP leader Andrea Horwath is taking a wait and see approach to a pension plan strategy until after 2015 federal election
TORONTO – If the next federal government isn’t willing to tackle pension reform on a national scale, Ontario New Democrats will consider moving forward with a provincial plan to help people save for retirement, party leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday.
The governing Liberals’ May 1 budget – which Horwath shot down, triggering the election – called for the creation of an Ontario pension plan.
The New Democrats made no mention of a provincial pension plan in their election campaign platform, despite pitching a similar idea in 2010.
Campaigning in Toronto, Horwath said she wants to wait and see if next year’s federal election will bring in a government willing to improve the Canada Pension Plan, something Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rejected repeatedly.
“People across Canada are facing the same challenge around income security in retirement and we need to make sure that we’re part of that solution across the country,” she said.
“If (the 2015 federal election) doesn’t give us a prime minister that’s prepared to put that issue on the national agenda, then certainly we’re prepared to look at that from a provincial perspective.”
In Depth: Ontario Election 2014
Harper and his cabinet ministers have said the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan – a showpiece of the Liberals’ re-election platform – would hurt the economy because workers and employers would be forced to contribute to the plan.
The Liberals say the provincial pension would be mandatory for people who do not currently have a workplace pension plan.
Premier Kathleen Wynne defended the plan Wednesday after a report by the Fraser Institute said it could cost contributing workers more than $3,400 a year each.
The report also predicted employers would cut wages and benefits or curb hiring to make up for the cost of paying into the plan.
Wynne argued having retirement income safeguards beyond the Canada Pension Plan doesn’t “take money” away from people.
“This is the opposite of a burden,” she said at a campaign stop in Markham, north of Toronto.
“This is actually a relief that would allow people to take away that concern about what their future might look like.”
That’s something the NDP should support, added Wynne.
Horwath criticized the Liberals’ proposed provincial pension plan, saying it emulates the CPP and would be “lucrative” for the private sector but far less beneficial for the people paying into it.
“Very little of the actual savings you put in for retirement go into your pocket,” she said. “They actually go into the pocket of the administrators and the banks.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014