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Ontario delaying launch of pension plan
Feb. 16, 2016
By Antonella Artuso

The Ontario government has hit the pause button on its promised provincial pension plan despite spending almost $600,000 to advertise it during last year’s federal election campaign.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa confirmed Tuesday that the first stage in implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) - applying it to large employers - will be delayed a year until 2018.

The postponement will allow the federal government and provinces to work on a plan to enhance CPP and also give businesses more time to implement, Sousa said.

“The Ontario Pension Plan is on target, is still proceeding,” he said. “And we’re also having discussions with other provinces for an enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) recently released Freedom of Information documents that show the provincial government spent $592,000 on ads to promote the ORPP during the 2015 federal election that saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals sweep into power.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has long said that her preference to address retirement security would be a national CPP enhancement, but she moved on the ORPP because that didn’t appear possible.

“If the federal government is not able to get consensus across the country among finance ministers, which seems to be the case at this point, then what we have said is we need to find a model that’s going to work for the people of Ontario,” she said.

It was not immediately clear why the Ontario government would delay the ORPP for a national consultation on CPP enhancement when the premier sees that as an uphill battle.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the ORPP would create a new Ontario bureaucracy and hurt job creation at a time when the economy is already fragile.

“There’s a reason why you saw 56 chambers of commerce write letters to the premier encouraging them not to go ahead with this,” he said.

NDP finance critic Catherine Fife said the Wynne government promised an ORPP to its citizens, and they deserve improved pensions.

“Their backtracking is an indication as to really how truly committed they are to the plan,” she said.

Under the ORPP, companies without a comparable workplace pension plan would be required to enroll their employees in the provincial plan. The employer and worker would make matching contributions.