Feds to look at offering Canadians option to increase CPP contributions

WATCH: After years of resisting reforms to the Canadian Pension Plan, the Tories now say they’re open to the idea of Canadians contributing more if they choose to. But, it’s just an idea, not a promise. As Vassy Kapelos reports, it’s no coincidence it’s being floated just months before an election.

OTTAWA — Canadians may have more options when planning for retirement, Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced Tuesday in the House of Commons.

The Conservative government is looking into offering Canadians the option to increase contributions to the Canada Pension Plan as a means of supplementing their retirement savings, Oliver said.

“We believe that Canadians are best placed to decide how to save for their retirement with voluntary options,” he said.

WATCH: Feds to look at offering Canadians option to increase CPP contributions, Finance Minister Joe Oliver says.

This announcement comes after the Harper government moved to increase the contribution caps on Tax Free Savings Accounts and created the Pooled Registered Pension Plan.

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If they were serious about this, we would have seen something a lot sooner than on the eve of an election.

– NDP critic Nathan Cullen

Together, all of these “voluntary, flexible” savings tools “empower Canadians” to choose how to save for retirement, the minister told the House.

Before moving ahead with the idea of making increased CPP contributions an option, Oliver said the government plans to spend the summer consulting with experts.

Regardless the outcome of those talks, Oliver said the Conservatives will not take a “one size fits all” approach, leaving the choice with Canadians.

READ MORE: Ontario approves bill to create provincial pension plan to start in 2017

The minister likened any other option to a “a job-killing, economy-destabilizing, pension-tax hike,” echoing the Ontario Progressive Conservative criticism of the provincial Liberal government’s recent move on pension plans.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government in December introduced legislation to create a mandatory provincial pension plan.

The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan is mandatory for workers who do not already have a company pension plan, requiring employers and employees to each contribute a certain percentage of an employee’s salary to the plan, up to a pre-determined maximum.

READ MORE: Ottawa proposes new reform for pension plans

Ottawa has said it wants to avoid saddling employees and employers with higher premiums.

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NDP finance critic Nathan Cullen described Oliver’s announcement this afternoon as a “non-announcement,” saying it’s just a reaction to poll numbers.

“Conservatives have made decisions that have hurt Canadian seniors and resulted in more poverty among seniors,” he said. “They’re now finding a deathbed conversion, realizing that what we’ve been advocating for years might be a good idea, that Canadians might want to be able to contribute to the CPP.”

Cullen said an expanded CPP is a reliable and secure pension plan that works broadly and fairly across the board.

But he’s skeptical anything will come of Tuesday’s announcement.

“If they were serious about this, we would have seen something a lot sooner than on the eve of an election,” he Cullen said. “It would have been in this budget.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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