Thunder Bay

Stephen Harper has 'head in the sand' about Ontarian's retirement savings

The Ontario Government is fighting back against what it's calling 'political games' on the part of the federal government.
The federal government is refusing to help Ontario pay for it's new pension plan. (File Photo)

The Ontario Government is fighting back against what it's calling "political games" on the part of the federal government.

On Friday, federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver sent a letter to Queen's Park, rejecting the province's request for Ottawa's help administering it's new pension plan.

Ontario's associate Minister of Finance Mitzie Hunter said she's unhappy with Ottawa's lack of co-operation.

"To see that Stephen Harper is looking at the pension security of Ontarians and playing political games with it is quite frankly disappointing," she said.
Ontario associate Finance Minister Mitzie Hunter says the federal government is refusing to recognize the need for people to achieve a secure retirement future. (Supplied)

"Retirement savings is just the latest area where Harper has buried his head in the sand about future challenges".

Ontario will find a way to move forward with the pension plan with, or without, the federal government, Hunter noted.

"The federal government is refusing to recognize the need for people to achieve a secure retirement future," she continued.

"[They have] a tradition of co-operation with Quebec in terms of sharing information between the CPP and QPP and we would expect the same spirit of co-operation here in Ontario."

Plan will 'damage the economy'

The Conservatives have made no secret of their opposition to an Ontario pension plan, but the Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver upped the ante Thursday with his letter warning Ottawa will not co-operate with the province in any way.

  "The Ontario government's ORPP would take money from workers and their families, kill jobs and damage the economy," wrote Oliver. "Administration of the ORPP will be the sole responsibility of the Ontario government, including the collection of contributions."

  Oliver said the feds would also refuse any legislative changes for the provincial pension to be treated like the CPP and would not integrate it within contribution limits for Registered Retirement Savings Plans.

Under the Ontario pension plan, which was approved in legislation in April, workers will have to contribute 1.9 per cent of their pay, to a maximum of $1,643 a year, which employers will have to match for every employee.

The mandatory contributions will be phased in over two years, starting with larger companies in 2017 before expanding to include small operations like convenience stores and dry cleaners.

  The provincial Liberals say the ORPP deductions will start at the same time the federal government is scheduled to reduce Employment Insurance premiums.

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