McGuinty urges Ottawa to help guarantee retirement income

Posted on May 26, 2009 in Governance Debates, Social Security Debates – Ontario – McGuinty urges Ottawa to help guarantee retirement income
May 25, 2009.   THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada needs to hold a federal-provincial summit to talk about ways of guaranteeing an adequate retirement income for seniors who don’t have pension plans, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said today.

McGuinty dismissed an NDP call to create a provincial pension plan to help the two-thirds of workers who don’t have a pension, but he told the legislature it’s something Ontario would consider if the federal government refuses to act.

“Failing action on the part of the federal government, it’s something we’re prepared to consider undertaking on our own,” McGuinty said.

“I know that my colleagues in Alberta and B.C., in particular, have mused about moving ahead, but I think there’s a fairly strong consensus among the premiers that we need to move forward nationally.”

McGuinty said Canada is “on a collision course when it comes to insecurity for seniors who won’t have adequate levels of income,” and maintained it is an issue the federal government must take the lead on.

“I have personally asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to host a national summit so that we can begin together to put in place the kinds of measures that will ensure our seniors enjoy a decent retirement income,” he said.

“This is as important an issue as is our national medicare system and as our national employment insurance system, making sure that all Canadians can enjoy a decent level of income benefit in their retirement years.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she was disappointed to hear McGuinty say an Ontario pension plan wouldn’t help seniors in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, or Manitoba.

“The last time I checked, this is the premier for Ontario, and it’s Ontario workers whom we have to think about in terms of their pension plans,” Horwath said in the legislature.

“It’s the premier’s job to worry about workers in Ontario, and that’s why we’re putting on the table the idea of the Ontario pension plan.”

Horwath claimed the Liberal government “has absolutely no idea how to expand pension benefit coverage” to workers who don’t have a pension plan, and said waiting for the federal government to act is not the answer.

“I don’t think it’s good enough to throw it over to the federal government and wait and see if and when they ever come up with something,” she said. “I think it’s time now to take this on at the provincial issue.”

McGuinty said Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan raised the pension issue Monday with his provincial and federal counterparts at a meeting in Meech Lake, Que.

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