Ontario Liberals pay for 'self-congratulatory' radio ad to plug feds' pension plan
Province has responsibility to communicate information about programs, Ontario finance spokesperson says
Ontario's Liberal government is defending a publicly funded ad that promotes an agreement to enhance the Canada Pension Plan — a federal program.
The radio advertisement says, "Ontario has been working to help close the retirement savings gap" and "the improved CPP would help close the gap and strengthen retirement security for working Canadians."
Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk says she would not have approved the ad under the previous rules, but the Liberals changed them last year and she says the new rules remove her discretion to veto ads she feels are partisan.
In this case, she says this ad is more "self-congratulatory" than informative for Ontarians, and the subject of it is actually more federal jurisdiction — and is not a done deal.
Ratification of the agreement-in-principle to enhance the CPP was delayed last month when British Columbia declined to sign off by the deadline, saying it needed more time to hear feedback from the public.
A spokeswoman for Ontario's finance minister says the CPP deal would not have been possible without a push from Ontario and the government has "a responsibility to raise awareness and communicate information about programs and services that affect Ontarians."
The provincial Liberal government spent $70 million to create an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan that now won't be needed as long as the CPP agreement goes through.