Sheridan pushing CPP plan at finance ministers meeting

Ryan Ross
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Jim Flaherty and Wes Sheridan

As P.E.I. Finance Minister Wes Sheridan gets ready to make another push for his plan to increase Canada Pension Plan premiums, he has strong words for those saying it would be a job killer.

“All of this malarkey that they’re putting out there now about it being a job killer and a payroll tax, they have to go back and look at what the facts are,” he said.

Sheridan heads to Meech Lake, Que. this weekend to meet with his provincial and federal counterparts to discuss several topics, the foremost of which will be CPP enhancements.

The ministers meet Sunday night for a private dinner and get into furthers discussions Monday.

Sheridan’s plan calls for an increase in CPP premiums that would lead to higher payouts for retirees, which he says is all necessary because people aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Any change would require approval from at least two-thirds of the provinces with two-thirds of the country’s population, as well as federal support.

That support has been elusive, but Sheridan said he hopes that on Monday they will all agree it’s an issue and there needs to be more than one solution to ensuring Canadians have enough money when they retire.

One of the groups opposed to CPP enhancements is the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which says it would have a serious impact on the economy.

The group recently released the results of a survey, which the CFIB said found 18 per cent of working Canadians saw increases to CPP and Quebec’s equivalent QPP as one of the best ways for government to help save for retirement.

That survey asked respondents to pick up to three options, including controlling government spending and reducing taxes to allow Canadians to contribute more towards retirement savings, and creating incentives for people to save.

There were five options that ranked higher than increased CPP and QPP contributions.

The online survey of 1,607 working Canadians who were 18-years-old or older was considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

In a news release from Erin McGrath-Gaudet, the CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for P.E.I., she said the finance ministers should be asking if mandatory CPP and QPP increases are a good idea, not just when is the right time to introduce them.

“Although governments have been talking about this for years, they have not stopped to ask Canadians if they support the idea or if it’s the best option for enhancing retirement savings,” she said.

The CFIB said its survey of member businesses showed almost ? of them responded they would be under pressure to freeze or cut salaries if faced with a CPP or QPP increase.

Sheridan said changes were made in the 1990s to fix the plan through higher premiums that didn’t lead to increased benefits and the same arguments against were made at that time.

Those changes didn’t cripple the economy, he said.

“All of this fear mongering over this job aspect is...hard to take when we’re talking about a 1.5 per cent increase over five years.”

Sheridan has been working on the issue for a long time, but he said it’s an issue he was passionate about and anything that impactful was worth the fight.

“We can’t kick this can down the road any further,” he said.

If the plan moves ahead, Sheridan foresees it starting in 2018.

Along with the CPP discussions at the meeting, Sheridan said the provinces will get an update from the Bank of Canada about the state of the Canadian economy.

They will also get their equalization payments, which won’t have any “outlandish” changes, Sheridan said.

“We expect no surprise.”

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Bank of Canada

Geographic location: Meech Lake, Quebec

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Recent comments

  • AMacD
    December 19, 2013 - 22:41

    The talking head pieces for the CFIB and other lobbyist groups are only in it for one reason; make the rich richer at the expense of the poorer. How does the CFIB propose to handle the huge increase in social assistance programs that are inevitably going to happen ten to twenty years down the road? The money will be coming from all taxpayers, including CFIB members who own businesses. Also, when a huge segment of society have insufficient income, many CFIB members will end up going out of business. The CFIB along with many lobbyist groups look at the short term aspects of an issue, and ignore the long term implications.

  • DEE
    December 17, 2013 - 22:34

    PLEASE READ BILL 428OAP PENSION we need to look after our old people

  • No name
    December 15, 2013 - 10:33

    Sheridan is a legend in his own mind, his name is not associated with CPP reform in the National press.

  • Right is Right
    December 14, 2013 - 20:27

    Listen, this is a man who fully supported that plan b thing with our tax dollars so why wouldn't we support him?

  • Rob McEachern
    December 14, 2013 - 18:13

    Made in PEI Solutions, is something Sheridan has waxed on about repeatedly, yet he has never provided a single solution other than heap on taxes a rack up debt. Mr.Sheridan has never hit his budget and he has more than doubled the "total debt" of the Province. PEI is not gaining any National support for continued transfers to gamblers like Ghiz and Sheridan. Will Sheridan share his gambling investment strategy with federal transfer payments?

  • Karen
    December 14, 2013 - 13:53

    This guy does not " push"any one in Ottawa.

  • Unreal
    December 14, 2013 - 11:23

    People aren't saving enough for retirement because they cannot afford to ... We are taxed to the extreme and the fees we pay are soo high ... over half of pei if not more than half are on the poverty line or under that's why we cannot save anything with this money hungry liberal government paying off their top supporters for unesesary work.. I see it every day .. So support pei by buying local I don't think so Wes... I will buy online or off island every chance I get until pei changes it's ways of being governed

  • Opposed to Idea
    December 14, 2013 - 10:21

    Despite what Wes says this is a payroll tax since businesses do not get this money back. The Federal government has recently reduced how much benefits a person can get if they start collecting CPP before age 65 so that is another example of a government grab. How many people fully recover all that they contribute to CPP (after considering inflation)? How many people can afford to have more CPP withheld from their pay? How many businesses can afford to contribute more to CPP? I am a small business owner and in 2012 my business contributed almost $40,000 to CPP since like most businesses our major expense is payroll. If Wes and other finance ministers think that doubling the rates over a period of time would not impact businesses then they should not be finance ministers! Easy for Wes to say that not a big impact since the government runs deficits and gets the money from taxes and Wes personally would get higher CPP benefits.

  • Roger J. Gallant
    December 14, 2013 - 09:16

    Tell that Wes guy to stay home and look after his ribs and his own province financial mess. All he is trying to create is more tax money so they can get another pay raise. Bah Humbug to you !

    December 14, 2013 - 09:10

    Wes is definitely the wrong person of accusing others of malarkey. He is the biggest pusher of malarkey this province has ever seen. WES, stay away from the other provinces you have done more then enough damage here. The only pushing that is required is to push you out of this province. If the other provincial Governments and the Federal Government have any sense at all they will not have any dealings with you.

  • Can You Believe
    December 14, 2013 - 08:57

    The attitude of this man is unbelievable . He say's ; Those changes didn’t cripple the economy, so I guess since he has crippled the people of PEI for generations with his policies & slackness as finance minister , he wants the other provinces to sucker into even if it kills job's . Only problem I see is it's not his job or wages that will be effected . THis man cannot sink into the woodwork soon enought .

  • Andrew
    December 14, 2013 - 06:31

    I would like to know what the government even has their fingers in the proverbial pie for. My employer and I make the contributions to the CPP, the government puts nothing towards it for me. I would like to see a report of what percentage the government is taking as their MER to run this program. Why cannot I direct the funds to my RRSP account that I already have in place. Sure it would be a locked in device that I was not able to touch until retirement but at least I would know where it was invested and how much it was costing me to have it. Furthermore with the income tax, CPP, EI, Union dues and my RRSP contributions already coming off my cheques any more would certainly not be appreciated. I realize Wes Sheridan says it isn't a big deal and it isn't for him because the tax payers are paying his pension contributions for him.