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TORONTO – Changes to the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) announced today betray the Liberals’ promise to build a pension plan for all Ontarians and could threaten the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), said Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

CUPE Ontario has always supported expanding pension coverage for all Canadians. But the changes announced today tell us the Liberal government has betrayed its promise to ensure retirement income security for the next generation,” said Hahn. “Instead of creating a truly universal system that could be rolled into a future CPP expansion, today’s announcement leaves even more Ontarians out. How will this plan ever be rolled into an expanded CPP when the majority of Ontario workers aren’t participating in it?”

The Liberal government announced today it is delaying the new ORPP and phasing it in, starting with large employers in 2017. It will exempt employers deemed to be offering “comparable” workplace pensions, using a definition which now includes any defined contribution plans with combined employee and employer contributions of at least 8 per cent.

“Defined contribution plans, like RRSPs, have higher financial services fees, leave workers vulnerable to the whims of the markets and provide substantially less retirement income security,” said Hahn. “Ontarians who only have this type of plan need access to an expanded, defined benefit, public pension plan like the CPP. By leaving them out of the ORPP, Wynne is setting a dangerous precedent during this federal election.”

The Harper Conservatives have opposed a comprehensive expansion of the CPP, and recent media reports have federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau stating his party is looking at a CPP expansion of “the type that Kathleen Wynne is putting forward in Ontario.” Of the three major parties, only Tom Mulcair and the NDP have committed to universal CPP expansion.

“Today’s announcement by the Ontario Liberals also postpones pension coverage for many low-waged workers, without any workplace pension whatsoever, who work in small- and medium-sized businesses,” said Hahn. “These are exactly the type of workers who need expanded public pensions, but the Premier is postponing their access.”

CUPE Ontario maintains that the best way to enhance retirement security is through a truly universal, defined-benefit plan such as the CPP. With this in mind, CUPE Ontario encourages the Wynne government to delay further development of the ORPP until after the October 19 federal election.

“The smart thing to do is to delay implementation until after the election. I’m confident Canadians will vote for real change with Tom Mulcair and the NDP. The NDP has promised retirement security for all Canadians by enhancing the universal, defined-benefit CPP,” said Hahn. “This is vastly preferable to Justin Trudeau, who would likely replicate Kathleen Wynne’s mistakes, and to the Harper government which cut pensions for all Canadian seniors and refuses to expand the CPP.”

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 250,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications