By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 0 Comments
Recent reviews of the Canadian retirement income system by Jack Mintz and Bob Baldwinhave concluded that the public system already in place does well in ensuring sufficient retirement income for those in the bottom two-fifths of the population. Research by Statistics Canada indicates that more than two-thirds of lower-earning Canadians have more income in retirement than they did at age 50. The pension problem, such that it is, can be found among those in the top three-fifths of the population who do not receive benefits from an employer-sponsored pension plan.
The CPP affects almost everybody. The pension problem identified by these recent pension reviews is one that affects middle-to-high earners without a workplace pension. This presents a fairly obvious mismatch. Is a bigger CPP really the solution for high earners who aren’t saving enough? Should we invest a lot of public policy effort to ensure that high earners can spend their retirement days in Florence instead of Florida? I still need to be convinced that a more targeted solution wouldn’t be more appropriate.
Milligan reviews some of the proposals, including the last Liberal campaign proposal of a “secure retirement option” and Thomas Mulcair’s proposal of a pension exchange. Mr. Mulcair’s leadership website seems to have mostly disappeared, but his policy paper on retirement security is preserved for posterity here.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
The Globe reports that CPP changes are being considered.
The Globe and Mail has learned that a policy paper on CPP reform prepared by federal and provincial public servants will be presented to the ministers during their yearly December gathering for two days of meetings, which will be held this year at Meech Lake. Not enough Canadians are taking advantage of existing voluntary options such as RRSPs, say supporters of CPP expansion, including the seniors’ lobby group CARP…
Mr. Flaherty had initially supported some form of CPP increase, but he surprised and upset some provinces in December, 2010, by reversing that support. He argued at the time that not enough provinces were on board and it was a bad time economically to increase premiums. A federal source said Ottawa’s position has not changed.
By Stephen Gordon - Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 6:09 PM - 0 Comments
Some interesting facts about CNOOC’s bid to buy out Nexen:
- As of March 31, 2012 (opens pdf), The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board owned 3.4 million shares of Nexen.
- As of December 31, 2011 (opens pdf), Quebec’s Caisse de dépôt et placement owned 1.8 million shares of Nexen.
- Before CNOOC`s offer, Nexen shares were trading in the $17-18 range.
- CNOOC is offering $27.50 a share of Nexen.
The CNOOC offer amounts to giving NEXEN shareholders a $10/share premium, or over $50 million for our publicly-run pension funds. If you participate in another pension fund that also has a stake in Nexen, you might want to take that into account as well.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
The government sent up Joyce Bateman during QP yesterday to lament that the NDP wanted to expand the Canada Pension Plan. Specifically, the NDP’s plan in the last election was to gradually double CPP over a period of seven years.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was not present to hear this, which is perhaps just as well, seeing as how Mr. Flaherty also used to support an expansion of CPP. And, as David Akin notes, Mr. Flaherty also just allowed an increase in those dreaded payroll taxes.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Topp has released his sixth policy paper, this one on supporting families. He’s proposing a national child nutrition program, a renewed health accord, a national pharmacare plan, a reversal of the moratorium on family reunification, a doubled Canada Pension Plan and support for LGBTTQ families.
Mr. Topp has also picked up the endorsements of his wife and two sons.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 1:18 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair pitches pension reform, including a pension exchange.
The proposed pension exchange would be operated by CPP and consist of a payroll deduction system, a selection of investment funds including a public plan offered by the CPP Investment Board and regulatory requirements to both guarantee and insure benefits.
“Canadians who choose to participate will be able have their pension contributions deducted directly from their pay cheque and invested through the exchange in one of several investment funds including a public plan offered by the CPP Investment Board. This will force large financial institutions to complete for our investment dollars and guarantee both lower management fees and higher rates of return.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
The RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death face perjury charges, while scientists prove Einstein was right
Some justice at last
It’s been over three years since Robert Dziekanski died at the Vancouver airport after RCMP used Tasers to subdue him. Now B.C.’s attorney general has laid perjury charges against the four officers involved for allegedly giving misleading testimony during the exhaustive Braidwood inquiry. While some, including Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski, are disappointed the charges don’t relate to the tasering itself, Cisowski still applauded the move. The wheels of the law may be slow, but they do keep moving, and in this sad case the charges offer at least some measure of justice.
Harnessing hot air
Energy sources such as wind and solar could provide 80 per cent of the world’s power supply within four decades if governments provide the cash and policies to make it happen. That is the landmark conclusion of a UN panel that says it’s not too late to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a “safe” level. In the meantime, farmers are enjoying the heat. According to separate research, Canadian crops have been largely spared from the scourge of climate change—and our historically hard-luck farmers are profiting from increased demand.
When the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, it was a blow to China’s human rights record. But the big winner may be Scottish fish farmers. In a fit of pique, China has stopped buying salmon from Norway—its biggest supplier—and signed a deal with Scotland. Perhaps that contributed to the unprecedented majority won by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party in the May 5 elections. Good news for nationalist politicians, not so much for fish.
It’s all relative
A NASA study has confirmed two of the “most profound predictions” about Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: that space and time are both warped and pulled by Earth’s gravity. Astrophysicists say the results, based on data measured by an orbiting space probe, will have implications “beyond our planet.” In other physics news: engineers have developed a golf ball that won’t slice. Now there’s a breakthrough we can relate to.
In the post-Mubarak era, Egypt is transitioning, but to what? Christians and Muslims clashed in Cairo, leaving 12 dead and two churches in smoldering ruins, amid signs Islamist hard-liners are asserting their power. At the same time, Syria continued its crackdown against anti-government protesters, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds, while in Libya, forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi hammered rebels. Clearly the fight is far from over for the pro-democracy movement across the Middle East.
Tens of thousands more baby boomers will face retirement without a company pension plan, Statistics Canada reported this week. Since the recession, membership in private sector plans has fallen below that of the public sector for the first time ever. Which is why Canadians should be cheering the Canada Pension Plan’s tripling of its 2009 investment in Internet-calling-company Skype, recently purchased by Microsoft for US$8.5 billion. Unless you work for the civil service or at a university, the CPP may be all the help you will get.
Lord Triesman, the chair of England’s failed bid for the 2018 World Cup of soccer, is alleging at least four FIFA members demanded bribes for their votes, including a knighthood for Paraguay’s representative. Trinidad’s football head wanted $2.5 million cash for an “educational centre.” London’s Sunday Times reports two West African delegates were paid $1.5 million to support Qatar’s winning bid. And in France, the national team is embroiled in scandal after it emerged officials considered quotas to limit the number of African and Arab-born players on their development squads. The ugly side to the beautiful game.
A good marriage isn’t necessarily built on love or even physical attraction, suggests new research in the Journal of Politics. Among the strongest shared traits between U.S. spouses is their political attitudes, the study found. The political bond forms early in marriages, but it’s not always enough to keep them together. Just ask political power-couple Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who separated this week.
By the editors - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 7:50 AM - 18 Comments
A few ideas the Conservatives might wish to pluck from their opponents’ now-shuttered platforms
After handily winning the federal election earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should have little trouble implementing his not-so-hidden agenda. Between now and 2015 we can thus expect that the deficit will be whittled away, per-vote subsidies for political parties phased out, the long-gun registry eliminated, crime fought and taxes kept low.
But having a winning platform is not the same thing as having a monopoly on good ideas. Four years without an election offers this government the luxury of considering new policies on their own merits. And with this sort of freedom in mind, here are a few ideas the Conservatives might wish to pluck from their opponents’ now-shuttered platforms.
A more effective and civil House of Commons, as promoted by both opposition parties, is clearly a pressing need. The hyper-partisanship of the recent minority governments has pushed Parliament into general disrepute, robbed Canadians of timely and unbiased information on many important subjects and led to the abuse of various parliamentary procedures, including prorogation. “Canadians,” the Liberal platform stated, “want to be proud of our democratic institutions.” The NDP platform promised to set a “new tone in Parliament.” It will be up to all three parties to make this happen, but the government should demonstrate leadership.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 4, 2011 at 5:16 PM - 0 Comments
Jack Layton promises pension reform.
To remedy this issue, Layton said an elected NDP government would immediately work with the provinces to double CPP and QPP benefits. But he would allow Canadians to “prop up” their CPP savings with their personal income … The NDP believes that doubling CPP and QPP benefits could require a 2.5 per cent increase in payroll deductions. Layton also pledged to add $700 million to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to help out seniors in the lowest income brackets.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 3:33 PM - 19 Comments
Michael Ignatieff promises pension reform.
Ignatieff says the Liberals will work with the provinces to gradually expand Canada Pension Plan benefits. He’s also promising a voluntary supplement to the CPP called the Secure Retirement Option that would let people save an extra five to 10 per cent of their pay in a CPP-backed fund. And the Liberals plan to boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement, or GIS, by $700 million a year — more than double what the Conservatives are offering.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM - 33 Comments
A month ago, Stephen Harper invited Jack Layton over for a chat. Afterward, the NDP leader listed five “proposals” for the federal budget:
1. Remove the federal sales tax on home heating bills.
2. Restore the EcoEnergy program.
3. Increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement to aid vulnerable seniors.
4. Strengthen the Canada Pension Plan
5. Improve access to family doctors.
According to various leaks and hints, it seems the EcoEnergy program will be renewed, some kind of assist for vulnerable seniors will be provided and student loan forgiveness will be offered to new doctors who choose to practice in rural areas. Depending on what else is included, that’s three (two and a half?) out of five and so whether or not the budget passes would seem now to depend on whether that’s enough for the NDP.
There is some question now as to whether Mr. Layton will announce a position today or tomorrow. I’m told no decision on timing has yet been made.
In the meantime, Rob Silver considers the long, meaningful history of the EcoEnergy retrofit program.
By Colin Campbell - Friday, February 18, 2011 at 1:29 PM - 2 Comments
Need money? Just ask for it.
A federal task force on financial literacy released its report last week, and along with typical industry warnings about the need for better financial planning and education was some simpler advice on how to get more money: just ask for it. According to the report, there are billions of dollars in government benefits that Canadians are entitled to but aren’t taking. Roughly 160,000 seniors, for instance, aren’t receiving social security benefits worth almost $1 billion. Only 40 per cent of eligible families have taken advantage of grants the federal government makes to registered education savings plans. And there are 55,000 Canadians who aren’t receiving their Canada Pension Plan benefits.
In Quebec, however, the number of people missing out on their provincial pension plan is almost zero, notes the report. The province uses computer databases to identify eligible seniors, who are phoned or even visited in person to make sure they receive what they’re entitled to.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 5:09 PM - 39 Comments
David Akin reviews Jack Layton’s demands.
“New Democrats are fighting to make sure stronger public pensions are part of the next budget. We’re looking for practical steps here. Like a modest increase in the guaranteed Canada Pension Plan. And an increase to the GIS, so seniors can afford the everyday basics they need … New Democrats have called on Mr. Harper work with us to drop the 5% federal sales tax on your home heating. We’d also bring back the eco-renovation tax credit — so families can make their homes more efficient to cut their bills even further.”
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 184 Comments
Fewer jobs. Lower pay. Higher taxes.
Now the Screwed Generation is starting to push back.
This January, the first baby boomers turn 65. The huge post-Second World War generation—which numbers 76 million in the United States, makes up almost a third of Canada’s population, and according to one estimate, controls 80 per cent of Britain’s wealth—will continue to enter their dotage at the rate of tens of thousands per day for the next 20 years. By 2050, there will be 30 million Americans aged 75 to 85, three in 10 Europeans will be 65-plus, and more than 40 per cent of Japan’s population will be elderly. In Canada, the ratio of workers to retirees—currently five to one—will have been halved by 2036. And despite the odd dissenter, the generation that still oddly finds Paul McCartney relevant has made clear its intention to take everything it feels it has coming. It will be up to all who trail in their wake to pay for their privilege.
Common sense, not to mention decency, wouldn’t call that just. But an outsized, over-entitled, and self-obsessed demographic is awfully hard for politicians to ignore. Take Britain’s example. In last spring’s general election, the most effective ad run by David Cameron’s Conservatives was also one of the simplest: a close-up of a newborn baby, wriggling in a bassinet as a music box tinkled in the background. “Born four weeks ago, eight pounds, three ounces. With his dad’s nose, mum’s eyes, and Gordon Brown’s debt,” intoned a female voice. “Thanks to Labour’s debt crisis, every child in Britain is born owing £17,000. They deserve better.” The point was impossible to miss: the time had come to stop mortgaging the country’s future.
By Peter Shawn Taylor, Jullia Belluz - Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 12:40 PM - 11 Comments
Doubling Canada Pension Plan benefits would provide all Canadians with a safe retirement, but it’s a risky plan that is set to spark a major political battle
Carlπos Hernandez understands the restaurant business. The retirement business, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery.
After a career spent working in other people’s kitchens, Hernandez, a native of El Salvador, is on the verge of opening his own restaurant. Inigo, in downtown Toronto, will offer takeout Portuguese churrasqueira-inspired fare—oven-roasted chicken, salads and brown rice. At 48, Hernandez felt it was time he became his own boss. So he’s sunk 15 years of savings into his venture.
While most financial advisers would argue against putting a lifetime of savings into a single, risky asset, the chef figures he knows his way around a kitchen counter much better than a stock portfolio. If the restaurant flops, however, he’ll be left with nothing.
“This is a gamble,” Hernandez admits of his foray into the notoriously fickle restaurant industry. “But it’s all I know. I’m not thinking in terms of a retirement plan.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:24 AM - 16 Comments
Michael Ignatieff talks to the Vancouver Province.
I’ve had three years of people taking quotations out of context on the torture issue, and conveniently missing pages of A Lesser Evil, which say things like, “Democracies have to fight terror with one hand tied behind their back, and they win because they keep one hand tied behind their back.” They never quote that, right? So all I’m asking is for people to treat me with the respect I hope I treat them. Am I an imperialist? Never, never. I’m a Canadian!
The one thing that people miss is that if you’re a Canadian, we have fought to maintain and enhance our sovereign independence. I could have spent my life in the United States; I didn’t. I came back here because this is my home. I appreciate that some of my positions have created controversy, and I’m willing to defend my views. What is difficult is to defend my views and then have them misrepresented. People have every right to object to my positions, but [they must] understand what those positions are. I hate, detest and loathe torture, always have, always will. I do not want a world run by the American empire, never have, never wanted it, don’t want it now. I’m a fierce defender of the national independence of Canada, and I’ve been a Liberal since before most of the people in this audience were born.
I’m a “Mike” Pearson Liberal preserved in aspic, one of the last remaining specimens of its kind, and damned proud to be. That means I’m a medicare Liberal, I’m a Canada Pension Plan Liberal, I’m a Charter of Rights and Freedoms Liberal.