WINDSOR, Ont. – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she is willing to agree to an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan if the value of benefits almost equal the amount of her proposed provincial pension plan.
Wynne says Ontario wants to see the value of CPP benefits increase by two-thirds of what is being promised under the provincial plan her Liberal government has vowed to bring in.
The provincial plan plus the CPP would provide a maximum of about $25,000 a year to a pensioner in Ontario, about double the maximum yearly amount paid out under the national plan.
A two-thirds increase would require CPP benefits to rise by about $8,000, which would also require an increase in premiums paid by employers and employees.
Wynne didn’t put any firm figures on the proposal Ontario has floated in CPP expansion talks.
“We’ve said if we can get to, sort of, two-thirds of the value of what we have — what we’ve worked up with the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, that’s one of the metrics that we would look at for a CPP enhancement,” Wynne said.
“That’s the order of discussion that we’re having with the federal government.”
For the last six months, provincial and federal officials have reviewed and analyzed potential changes to the federal plan, to see what is palatable in terms of an increase in benefits, an increase in premiums and where to set the bar on the income cut-off for paying CPP premiums. Negotiations have also gone on behind the scenes between provincial finance ministers, who are to meet next week in Vancouver to discuss CPP expansion with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
“We are working very closely with the federal government as the federal government is with provinces across the country,” Wynne said Wednesday. “We’re very eager and have been from the beginning to see a CPP enhancement.”
Morneau has said he wants to see a deal to expand CPP completed by the end of the year.
Reaching an agreement is not easy. Making changes to CPP requires the consent of seven provinces representing at least two-thirds of the country’s population, a higher bar than the amending formula for the Constitution.
That math makes Ontario’s consent a necessity for any changes to occur.
Wynne has said her province is willing to go ahead with the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan in the absence of any agreement on CPP expansion.