Trudeau, Harper clash over pensions, income-splitting

Retirement savings fire up party leaders



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Conservative leader Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau butted heads during Thursday’s national leaders’ debate when Maclean’s moderator Paul Wells raised questions about the country’s economy. The discussion veered toward pensions and income-splitting and what the government is doing to help Canadians save for retirement.

Trudeau jumped on Harper’s refusal to co-operate with the provinces on enhanced government pension plans.

“You’ve categorically refused to actually engage in the kind of pension security that Ontario and other provinces are asking for,” said Trudeau. He also pointed the finger at Harper for changing the retirement age from 65 to 67.

The Harper government recently announced that it would not help the provincial government with the implementation of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. The plan will force Ontarians without a workplace pension plan into mandatory retirement savings. Instead, the Tories have recently promised to consider voluntary CPP top ups by taxpayers.

Harper fired back with a list of things his administration has done for seniors.

“OAS is increasing. We have brought in the largest increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for poor income seniors in 25 years,” he said, adding that the retirement age would not go up for another few years. This elicited a frustrated response from Trudeau.

“Oh, so it’s for our grandchildren to worry about that one?”

Harper ignored the quip and went on to laud his government’s increase of the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, both targeted at lower-income seniors, among other changes.

“We brought in income-splitting for our pensioners—I know something the other parties oppose, but they appreciate it,” Harper said.

To that, Trudeau disagreed, saying that his party has not “talked about touching…income-splitting for seniors.”

The Liberals voted against an omnibus bill that included nixing the measure back in 2007, and Trudeau recently voiced concerns over implementing income-splitting for couples with young children citing studies that suggest it would primarily benefit the wealthy.

How pension income splitting really works »

3 comments on “Trudeau, Harper clash over pensions, income-splitting

  1. This pension plan is simply a ridiculous attempt to have something negative to attack the PC’s with. The proposed Ontario pension plan is also still very unclear to the existing Pension providers. The wording of the proposal is quite interesting as it is very non committal about how it may or may not effect people that already have a good work DC Pension plan. They may actually be hurt by this plan. Also I would really like to see the costs of this plan, who ultimately who win the contracts to implement it and ALL its fee’s. Will this be just another Orange? An overpriced and under delivering liberal program? Kathleen promised to roll this out, not the PC’s, so put your money where your mouth is and roll it out. Stop rewriting history and complaining that someone else is not on board with your promise…


  2. An Ontario Pension Plan is the last thing I need. I’m 60 and am more than prepared for retirement. At this age, anything I’d contribute would end up going to the cost of setting the thing up and I’d be lucky to get $5/month. I’m self-employed, and they haven’t said whether or not I’ll have to pay into it – at least that I can find. If I do, I may end up taking my CPP early to avoid it. But will they even tie it to when you take your CPP? There are so many unknowns. I can’t see how they can possibly get it all together to start in 2017 (which is when their web site says it will start). I have no faith in Kathleen and her pals to get this right.


  3. I would like to follow up to my above comment, as just yesterday the unclear point was clarified :

    “Definition of Comparable Pension: Initially, businesses with a Defined Benefit (DB) pension were exempt from contributing to the ORPP. Under the new rules, companies with a Defined Contribution (DC) pension, where contributions total at least 8% of the employee’s salary (employer must contribute at least 4%), will be considered comparable.”

    Start Date: Initially the ORPP was to begin in 2017. Under the new rules, only firms with more than 500 employees will have to begin contributing in 2017. Firms with 50-499 employees will begin contributing in 2018. Small businesses, companies with under 50 employees, will begin contributing in 2019.

    She has obviously delayed the implementation date with the hope that the Liberals win the federal election and they then work together at that point… Her words, not mine.

    To sum this up if you are typically a “friend” of the liberals (look who gets to keep their golden DB plans) you are exempt from this. But if you are at the bottom of this group say you contribute 2-3% and your employer matches you will probably lose this plan at your work and be left with no other option. Good or bad – only time will tell.


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