Pensions were a hot topic at a meeting of Canada’s finance ministers on Monday, where plans to reform how the Canada Pension Plan were floated among top policy makers.
Ultimately, ministers decided to leave CPP as is for the time being, but some Manitobans aren’t happy about that.
Winnipegger Rick Bourque paid into CPP for 40 years and now gets about $800 a month to live on.
The pensioner said he wished the government had forced him to pay more, so he would get more now.
“Sure, raise it up a little bit, but give the people who contribute to it all these years something to look forward to! That’s it!” said Bourque. “You have to look after the elderly, who have looked after everyone else all their lives.”
A number of provincial finance ministers pushed the federal government to do just that on Monday, imploring federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to double the annual CPP benefit as well as increase premiums for employees and employers.
Winnipegger Sarah Vaage said she supports the move.
“I don’t want to work until I’m 75, so if I can go when I’m 67, I’d be happy to pay a little bit extra into it,” said Vaage.
But business owners were quick to pan the idea. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said if premiums were to go up, businesses would cut jobs.
Local hardware store manager Mike Wolchock towed that line on Monday. Wolchock said if premiums were increased he might lay off staff.
“The public is going to be paying. They’ll be paying off their paycheck, and they’re going to be paying when they buy goods,” said he said.
To some business owners’ relief, the finance ministers weren’t able to come to a consensus on the issue, so no changes are expected any time soon.
Manitoba Finance Minister Jennifer Howard said that’s bad news for people living in the province.
“No province wants to do anything that will slow the [economic] recovery, but we do believe with a modest and gradual expansion of the plan, we can accommodate those concerns by employers,” said Howard.
The ministers are expected to continue talks on Tuesday in Meech Lake.