Harper on CPP: it’s about individual responsibility

As clue about why the government is rejecting CPP expansion

by John Geddes

Adrian Wyld/CP

This week started with a tense standoff between Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his provincial counterparts over the Canada Pension Plan, and ends with the Prime Minister going a long way toward explaining, I assume quite unintentionally, why that meeting was so unproductive.

The federal-provincial finance ministers’ get-together was held on Monday near Ottawa in the Gatineau Hills at Meech Lake, where the mood was, by all accounts, not in keeping with the spirit of the festive season. Here’s how Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa summed up the way Flaherty and Kevin Sorenson, the junior federal minister of state for finance, took charge: “It was a unilaterally run meeting without consensus and without deliberation with the other ministers.”

The problem was that the provincial ministers showed up mainly wanting to talk about expanding the CPP, by hiking employee and employer contributions to fund more benefits for retirees decades from now, and Flaherty and Sorenson wanted no part of any such discussion. Sousa currently chairs the provincial ministers’ group, and so he had planned to do a lot of talking on behalf of them about the need to get moving by studying options for expanding the CPP, and perhaps other pension reform ideas, too.  But Sorenson (who was chairing the meeting since Flaherty, who appeared quite ill that day, was nursing a sore throat) made it clear the feds didn’t really want to hear Sousa out.

“As I’m presenting [Sorenson] is saying, ‘You only have five minutes.’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about? I’m here to present this submission for our discussion.’ He was cutting me off, ‘Oh no, you only have five minutes.’ This was shocking. We were there because of this,” Sousa told me in an interview.

Later that day, Flaherty interjected to put a stop to any further talk of the ministers emerging from their meeting to announce they had agreed to look into alternatives for CPP reform. Sousa said Flaherty’s blunt position was, “We’re not doing this; we’re done until the economy improves.” And that would be fully consistent with what Flaherty and Sorenson had been saying publicly before the closed-door confab with the provinces—that a CPP premium increase, which they term a “payroll tax” that would “kill jobs,” can’t be contemplated until the economy is less “fragile.”

That position has puzzled me. After all, Flaherty fully supported a CPP expansion back in the spring of 2010, and only retreated when Alberta wouldn’t come on side with the plan. The fragility of the economy didn’t seem to overly worry him at the time, even though the 2009 recession was then a much fresher memory. Why is it a deal-breaker today? As well, even if Flaherty detects economic vulnerability just now, all the serious CPP expansion proposals would have premium increases phased in over several years, perhaps starting in 2015 or 2016. So prospects for growth this quarter or next aren’t really the issue.

A more compelling explanation for the federal government rejecting even the study of CPP expansion is that some key Conservatives recoil from the notion, not because of how they read current conditions, but because of their deeply held convictions about the responsibility of individuals to take care of themselves. And this happens to be precisely the position Prime Minister Stephen Harper staked out in a year-end interview aired this evening by Global News.

Asked by Global’s Jacques Bourbeau about the pension debate, the Prime Minister made no mention of the purported fragility of the economy and its ability to absorb a CPP premium hike. Instead, Harper went straight to the ideological heart of the matter, after a bit of throat-clearing about the low rate of poverty among Canadian seniors and the fact that many Canadians, between their own savings and their company pensions, are “in very good financial shape for their retirement.”

“The more worrisome group,” Harper went on, “is a group of people who have reasonably affluent lifestyles but just don’t save. They have the opportunity to do so, so I don’t think the challenge is to raise CPP taxes on everybody. It’s to try and figure out how to get the people who actually need to save to do the saving they need to do.”

Contrast the Prime Minister’s view of the problem at hand with what his finance minister said early last month when asked by reporters in Toronto about boosting the CPP. “I can see it being good in the long run for Canadians, at the right time,” Flaherty said. “But I would want to see significantly more economic growth than we have now before we imposed an additional burden on Canadian employers and employees.”

Yet Harper didn’t breathe a word about the ostensible challenge of carefully timing CPP premium increases so they occur when the economy is in better shape. He sure didn’t indicate that he thought doing so might be “good in the long run.” No, he rather bracingly defined the the challenge as getting through to that minority of Canadians don’t save enough even though they “have the opportunity.”

There’s plenty in Harper’s stance to argue about, of course. But he has at least cleared up the terms of this important debate by explaining the fundamental underpinning of his government’s position. The real reason Flaherty couldn’t talk through the matter fully with the provincial finance ministers seems to have had little to do with the timing or mechanics of CPP expansion, or the present state of the economy.

Instead, the Prime Minister frames the issue in terms of what sorts of things individuals should do on their own and when the state should step in. This is not the sort of stuff finance ministers typically hash out, but an excellent topic for voters to consider during an election campaign.




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Harper on CPP: it’s about individual responsibility

  1. I don’t disagree that there is a group of people who should save & don’t, but there are far more people making not much over poverty wages who will never be able to save any substantial amount of money for retirement. Guess we just throw those people under the bus. This is a Prime Minister who seems only able to relate to the “problems” of the upper middle class & he’s long past his best before date.

    • Of course we don’t want the kill the economically viable.

      I am not sure about others but for myself – I am generally hired by people who are currently economically viable.

      When was the last time you saw a poor person hire anyone to do anything.

      • EVERYONE spends money. Purchasing for food, lodging etc IS the hiring of an individual or corporate representative. Poor people spend money too!

        • Jordan seems to have another agenda – see above.

          • I signed in under my Google ID – Real Name – Real Business – If you want to be taken seriously use your real name and let people know what you do in the real world and that you are not just someone living on government handouts wanting more.

        • True, Don…
          But a lot of the time, the poor are spending other people’s money.

          • No they are not, that’s a myth.

        • Poor people spend is right, have to eat. But they are taxed too, hidden taxes of $40 billion and price fixing in food, cell/phone/Internet, cars and a tax inflated economy.

          Eat a piece of Mozarella cheese, it may have a 284% tariff in its cost or a price fixing dairy board pricing in it.

          You bet poor pays taxes, even on coats, shoes, socks…they are taxed more than they know.

      • Well screw them eh – they don’t own businesses/properties you can sell. I have to say this is the cheapest business advertising – can’t you afford legitimate promotion of your business. Mr. Jordan’s business is – http://www.pin.ca – reached through clicking on his name.

      • And your point is?

        • More jobs is the intended result.

          My point and I believe the point in the article, is that the Conservatives don’t want to tax employers so much that they quit hiring or worse, start laying people off because they can’t turn a profit because of the increased tax load.

          Profitable businesses can hire more staff and therefore it is in everyone’s best interest to make sure businesses, especially Canadian businesses that hire most of their staff in Canada, are profitable.

          More Profitable Canadian Companies = More Jobs and more tax revenue for the Government who can then better support those less fortunate.

          • Riiiiiiiiiight… just like they spent all those extra tax dollars that they saved when the feds lowered the corporate rate…. and their bank account grew fatter by the day.

            Corporate has received a huge tax reduction and taking a very small percentage back for CPP would be no hardship.

            Eric, what you are saying is a farce because corporate has NOT been adding jobs with the tax cuts but have been adding to their bank accounts. When the corporate glass gets full and it is suppose to trickle down to the poor, corporate just gets a bigger glass.

          • Small Business not Large Corporations employ the most people in Canada.

            I don’t deal with large corporations and can’t suggest I know what they do.

            I do deal with a lot of small businesses who in my understanding are the largest engine for jobs in this country. When you increase the taxes and regulations for these small businesses you hurt the employment of the most vulnerable.

            Again – Small Business not Large Corporations employ the most people in Canada.

          • Small incremental increases phased over a number of years is not going to cause businesses to stop hiring or lay people off. Any business which makes these claims are putting up a smoke screen for much bigger problems.

          • Hogwash…and propaganda. Corporations hire armies of lawyers and accountants to avoid paying taxes…and funnel money to havens, offshore and otherwise.
            Profit and income distribution will always be in conflict and some politicians don’t mind playing both sides of the fence when it suits them. Harper for example goes after internet providers profits and at the same time holds his nose in the air over CPP. He who contributes most to Harper’s cause win Harper’s backing. His conservative values rank with his family values or Canadian values; clearly undefined to insure flexible positions as needed.

          • unlike Paul Martin, Mr. Harper does not hide his Billions off-shore… because, unlike the Bay-Street-Lawyer Prime Ministers of the past,… he doesn’t own one.

    • Lots of writing has been done on OAS and current CPP covering lower income workers retirement lifestyles at a roughly equal level. Not that we shouldn’t be working on poverty, but that isn’t the real issue, they haven’t been and aren’t being asked to save.

      • Yep, a lot of undisciplined liberal-socialist-statism people who trusted Ottawa with CPP will be in for a huge disappointment. CPP was always a tax with a pathetic ROI for the majority contributers.

        CPP is below poverty. Most people don’t realize that. No shortage of black widows seeking candy men either. Didn’t save, find someone with money is a raging hidden thing.

        Just another failed socialism-statism promise. People trust government too much will get burned from their own ignorance of reality. And further, socialist dollars go to far too many able working age people in this country….can’t have so many millions getting so much…a huge clash is about to happen.

        And CPP is massively underfunded as decades of investment neglect has caught up to reality.

    • That’s why there are OAS and GIS supplements in addition to CPP. The question that has to be answered is how much responsibility does the government need to take to ensure that they are assisted. Some would insist that they have to provide as good as standard of living as those who save diligently for retirement, others would say not at all. its a matter of deciding where on the spectrum is the right balance.

      • OAS and GIS are federal welfare programs and as Flaherty and Harper continue to cut the federal budget, get into surplus and cut taxes what do you think is going to happen to those payments in the years ahead?
        I suspect cuts, certainly no way near keeping up with inflation.

        • In the end people will lose and governemtn will win. We older people paid in plenty and are getting a pretty poor return on the “socialist-statism” promise. In an ideal world where everyone is rational, honest, realistic and not defrauding the system with politics, pooled plans and socialism would work.

          But we are not in an ideal world. Many decades of CPP mismanagement, paying people too much who didn’t contribute, lending money at rates under inflation for government paper and favors has caught up to reality. As the reality is that most people will be lucky to see 25% of the value in CPP after inflation. Most people would have been far better off if the CPP employee/employer parts went into a LIRA the day they were earned.

          Today employee/employers pay more and everyone gets less, 3% increase in CPP while payouts increases are 1% and below inflation.

          Its why the reality is, CPP like EI is an employment TAX. No guarantees of ROI or eventual returns as governemtn can change the rules after they get your money, as they did with below inflation increases and shift from 65 to 67.

          But if in your name/account/control, you decide retirement dates. And because I planed my retirement in my name/account/control, my spouse or estate gets 100% of the value if I die.

          Pooled plans are pooled scams be they public, private or CPP.

          • Hard work and responsible saving does not spare you from misfortune. In fact nothing tempts misfortune more than arrogance or pride. Beware Sir!

            We can think of CPP as a form of insurance. For our ‘investment’ we are guaranteed some level of retirement income. If things go well then it’s lunch money. If things go badly, then it’s food and shelter.

            Maybe you’re such a savvy investor that somehow you weathered the market crashes in our lifetime without losing a penny. I don’t think so though. Your ROI could be wiped out some Monday, but you are guaranteed your CPP. Unless you continue to vote for Harper.

            EI is the same. We all pay hoping that we’ll never need to cash in but if Head Office closes your branch on your 60th birthday you will be glad for EI. And after hundreds of fruitless cold calls and resume mail-outs you will begin to cheat on your job search reports.

            Your worst enemy will be the public servant out to save the taxpayer the cost of your next measly benefits cheque.

            Merry Christmas. God bless us every one.

          • Bobby Riled if he knew the truth would probably find that Dave 777 had purchased INSURANCE to guard against misfortune.

            PLANNING as Dave 777 will tell you is KEY.

            Most of us could have planned better but it was our choice and we have to live with the consequences of our decisions.

          • Oh! So you can buy insurance to protect you from a Crash!? Do tell!

            It would bring comfort to those used-to-be millionaires and the prudent savers who lost half or more of their well-advised investments.

            Although who but a fool would buy shares in such an insurance company and who but a charlatan would invent it? Obviously a Crash would mean bankruptcy and since you’re a ‘corporation’ you are not personally responsible.

            Hmm… yeah you’re right, Eric: planning is key and counting on a sucker being born every minute is a key element in every evil plan.

            The best insurance would be to max out your CPP contributions and petition your MP to increase the benefit payout.

          • Hello Bobby Riled

            Perhaps you and I should both take lessons from Dave 777 as YES he seems to have survived some stock market crashes.

            Let’s find out what sort of things he invested in then we can reflect on that and if it is too late for us then at least we can show out children.

            Our Democracy allows us to be responsible as Dave 777 would appear to be; OR we could make choices like others would seem to have made and are complaining about.

            Personally I chose to invest in myself and my own company. Time will tell if that was wise or not. Either way it was my choice and I will have to live with the consequences.

            And yes I use insurance to mitigate the difference.

            You would be well advised to consult Dave 777 if he would be so generous as to speak with you. He is a proven success.

          • The CPP investment board runs extremely cheaply compared to what most people pay for mutual funds. Maybe there should just be an easy option to voluntarily contribute more to CPP in return for higher payouts in retirement? However, the truth is that the elderly did not pay enough into the system, which is why rates had to go up quickly between 1997 and 2003.

          • But their ROI year over year for 3 decades now has been pathetic. CPP has no guarantees of payout, and if you die your spouse gets an immediate write down and your collective estate will never see a dime except for the death benefit.

            CPP is a lousy investment. Elderly paid plenty, just that it was mismanaged. I didn’t put more than my employers/employee CPP part in my RRSP and at 57 it has an annual dividend return of 3 times CPP and I am no where close to 65/67, and if I die my wife/estate gets the entire value less taxes.

            CPP is better than no plan at all, but those of us who take personal finance seriously pay the price to subsidize those that are undisciplined and need government to manage them like chickens. I would rather have had CPP employee/employers parts in my name/account/control in say a LIRA day one. This way governemtn can’t change the rules after they get your money like they did with 65/67.

            CPP isn’t an investment, it has a poor payout and poor ROI. Thus, the majority of it should be considered a tax with a small residual value down th road.

      • OAS and GIS are not enough. My Mother who worked her entire life (till 65) and contributed all her life died almost 5 years ago a pauper only because our system is not enough. If she were alive today (rest her soul) there is no way in hell she could fork out the hydro bills. It is disgraceful. The US has a better compensation program than we do.

        • You are right on. I hate to bust the false ego of Canadians but it is true the USA pays better in retirement, pays better disability, pays better for vets…… I lived in USA for 10 years so I am not cheap seat talking.

          Canadian social system for retired, disabled and vets is a farce. Able whiners of working able age get far more.

          Disgusting really. As Ottawa is about deceiving people out of their money then doing as little for the people as they can get away with.

        • @Abber. Perhaps if the provincial government didn’t screw things up so badly then the hydro bills which have skyrocketed under the Liberals, wouldn’t have had to be so exorbitant.

          • Agree totally. The Liberals have to go. If hydro rates are to increase 42% over the next five years none of us will be able to afford to live. Any remaining industry will high tail it out of here and we will become paupers, no job market etc. We will seriously consider moving out of province if this is the case. There needs to be a crack down on all the hefty salaries and indexed
            pensions in the government sector including Hydro One – what a horrible joke. It is disgraceful that the private sector pays for such gluttony.

    • This won’t help people who can’t afford to save more. It’ll take more money out of their pockets each and every pay check. If someone can’t afford to voluntarily save more, how does forcing them to save more help them?

      Not only would increasing CPP contributions kill jobs, it would also result in people having less money to spend in the wider economy.

      You seem to be under the impression that the CPP is some type of social program. It’s not. It’s a pension plan. People only get out of it what they put into it.

      • That is what government wants, you to be taxed poor as they get you on income/employment/property/utility and a huge amount of hidden taxes and tariff price fixing, GST/PST extra.

        Sort of like I take 50% or more of you income, spend and life taxes…then promise a 5% return….people are suckers for it. And its the only vote on your ballot, more government and less for the people. None of the parties are credible in leaving you with more of your money and lowering tariff/duty and price protectionism….they get you ion income and spend…

        Working taxed poor are too busy trying to get ahead to see the ruse of big government.

    • I don’t understand.
      James Moore says we have never been wealthier as a nation, but Flaherty tells us we are in danger and can’t save for a rainy day. If we can’t maximise our pensions when we have never been wealthier when can we do it?

      I guess it’s similar to when postal workers were ordered back to work because they were essential workers providing an essential service; but now are being laid off and we’re having services cut because they are not essential services.

      Classic reform double speak by a bunch of clowns who have never run anything in their life; well except running it into the ground that is.

      • We *have* never been wealthier as a nation. But why would we risk that by killing jobs via a CPP increase, just because some people who are either too lazy or too stupid to save for retirement?

        Frankly, all a CPP increase would do is make life harder on the working poor. They’ll have less money on each paycheck, if they don’t lose their jobs. And all they get out of it is a few more dollars in a “retirement” they’ll never get to enjoy.

        • By your logic if we took nothing out of their pay packets for CPP they’d be so much better off.
          CPP is one of the most successful ways of saving for retirement and is cost effective. Insisting that the poor go via the private route will cost them more and leave them open to the criminal behaviour of the financial services industry. Individually these crooks will pick you off one by one but CPP has the bulk to ensure that that is unlikely.
          As usually it’s just talking points and rubbish.

          • So now “the poor” are investing retirement savings with private wealth managers? I don’t think you know what “the poor” actually do with their money at all.

            The CPP was never intended to be anyone’s sole source of income in retirement, nor should it be. Why would anybody in their right mind want Liberal politicians playing politics with their retirement savings?

          • If you deliberately don’t read what was written and then set up a straw man; you are only arguing with yourself.
            Go back and read it and then try again.

          • So when the generation without retirement savings is old and feeble no longer able to work and support themselves, just exactly what do you plan to do with them?

          • They’ll have CPP, OAS and GIS as income. Are you even aware of the system that currently exists? Nobody’s saying that those should end, just that there’s zero reason to increase the forced CPP contributions.

          • They may not have much in the way of CPP.
            Scattered work history,low wages,low contributions. I know believe me.
            But OAS and GIS are federal welfare plain and simple. They way Flaherty and Harper talk about debt reduction, and tax cuts, tax cuts, I can’t see keeping those payments level with inflation. Those two payments cover the cost of nursing home room and board. Poverty ahead for poor seniors, no destitution.
            A weak CPP, senior benefit reductions, no savings.
            Repeal the New Deal!!!

          • I do my own. I don’t take kickbacks to push garbage investments, I don’t have as much bias, I don’t charge and MER or management fee…..I bought investment books with a conservative tried and true methods…..

            And DIY pays off much much better given 37 years of compounding returns.

            You want money, you want wealth, you have to consistently learn the ropes and self discipline to get it.

        • Do you have a calculator? If so, here’s an exercise for you. Figure out how much a .1% increase in CPP premiums would be for 1 year. In fact, I’ve done it for you. For someone making the maximum yearly contribution it would be around $50.00 FOR THE YEAR! Now take that $50.00 and multiply the same increase over 10 or more years. What number do you get? Is our economy THAT fragile it would lose jobs with such small increases. The provinces are talking about small incremental increases phased in over a long number of years. This would NOT kill jobs.

          • Which Premier has said they were looking for only a .1% increase? You’re just arbitrarily choosing the smallest number possible to try to make your “point”.

          • so come back with your figures.
            Jeez you are such a whiny baby

          • I’m a whiny baby because I pointed out that your figures are useless and stupid? Sure, whatever.

          • No you’re whiny because you chuck all your toys out of the pram when you get in a huff and offer nothing in return except a pet lip.
            your last comment reinforces this.

          • I used that as an example. The interview I heard w/Charles Sousa indicated that the provinces were looking at very small increases.

        • Also means less raises, as the more the employer has to pay to Ottawa, the less there is for wage increases.

          It is true people have less money to spend today than 30 years ago if you account for inflation. But it is also true that income/employment/property/utility and hidden taxes and protectionism have taken much more of the pie than ever before. Its why people are not getting ahead, disposable income for many doesn’t exist….

          And then add in a generation of liberal-socialism taught kids with no clue of real world economics, well, you have some huge social problems coming. This depression may last 3+ decades….as too many are unprepared for reality, governments have bankrupted us.

          • Are you saying that the post Boer war, WW1 and WW2 generation of kids had a real clue of real world economics and that this latest generation is an outlier? Or are you just blaming the young of today and their teachers for purely personal reasons?

            PS wtf is a raise?

        • Only thing that’s going to kill jobs is decreased demand.

          You have so many sales your current workforce can’t handle it you WILL hire more people and pay the extra tax. Right? Wouldn’t you?

      • Yes, the incoherence of the message would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad.

      • Wealthier in BS or in money or in value? Maybe in terms of BS and money we are but on the world currency markets the CAD has lost well over 6% in just 3 months. So in terms of value, and with pensions/savings getting returns below inflation and below currency depreciating we are a negative value economy.

        Hey, I could give you XYZ currency, a day later it loses value, then you try to spend it to find out it isn’t worth as much…..

        That is the CAD currency, guaranteed to have much less value in the future. But sure, if it keeps you happy you have a higher number in your pocket that buys less stuff. Government counts on this ignorance.

        • That may be so, but that doesn’t explain why the government insists A not B, then also insists B not A.

    • The first $1000 I saved was almost as hard as the next $9000….the last $100k I made was easier and faster than the first $10k I saved…..

      As the more you save/invest, the faster it grows. And since 90% of my pension planning is in my name, in my account, in my control I get 7% annual average returns with no skimming, no MER, no governemtn deciding the 67 rules and giving it away to people who didn’t pay in. And I don’t buy governemtn bonds below inflation for political favors.

      Personal responsibility is key to becoming wealthy. Most people in this country do not realize how much self discipline and personal responsibility makes a huge difference.

      I am living well, disabled and have a home as I didn’t rely on government. If I had relied on government I would be homeless and in subsistence poverty. Our social system is a low yeild farce designed to bilk taxpayers for more while delivering less. Ottawa is lies and deception for your money.

  2. Horse manure!

  3. It’s to try and figure out how to get the people who actually need to save to do the saving they need to do. – Harper

    This is key, because if you made lots of money and saved none of it, the government will pick up the tab for your nursing home costs. And there’s going to be a whole heck-lotta boomers in nursing homes with fewer workers to support those costs.

    We need to be figuring out how to future-proof against our incoming demographic inversion. So the question is, how. They’ve been in gov’t for 7 years. Just another government kicking the issue down the tracks. It’s irresponsible, poor leadership to axe a potential solution to a real problem with no alternative.

    • Government doesn’t pick up the tab for nursing home costs. It comes out of your income (does in BC where I live). If you have a meager pension and are in a home, the government takes all but $200 of it. Oh and they charge for wheelchair rentals too.

      • True.

      • Ok Elaine, maybe you can check my math. Let’s take the Guaranteed Income Supplement out of it, because it’s born entirely by taxes already and not a universal benefit (doesn’t get paid out unless your poor) . These ones below are universally applied, and if you’ve exhausted or never created retirement savings, are what you get, per month:

        Maximum OAS: $546.07
        Maximum CPP: $1012.50

        Typical Nursing Home cost: $4000

        If we take out your $200 personal amount, the system is on the hook for about $2560.

        ANNUAL INCREMENTAL COST: $31,800

  4. The reason pension plans came into being was that a lot of people lost everything in the Depression. A lifetime of work and savings swept away, and people too old to replace those losses. In those days it meant the Poorhouse. Yes, we had such things in Canada.

    Harp wants to return us to those pre-Depression days….in spite of the Great Recession having wiped people out just recently.

    • And another idiotic statement from someone looking for attention.

      • If you’re having trouble understanding something – help is available – you just have to ask.

  5. Stephen Harper talking about individual responsibility? It is to laugh…

    • Just saw a clip of him on a year end interview – faux smiling through saying that Wright, who has such superior qualities – ethics etc., could do something so outrageous as to write that $90,000 cheque. Seems like the final knife in Wright’s back. If anyone working for Harper thinks they’re doing anything but ‘temp’ work they’re idiots.

      • Harper’s s**t eating grin is his “tell” . . . he was bluffing when he said that

  6. “The more worrisome group,” Harper went on, “is a group of people who have reasonably affluent lifestyles but just don’t save. They have the opportunity to do so, so I don’t think the challenge is to raise CPP taxes on everybody. It’s to try and figure out how to get the people who actually need to save to do the saving they need to do.”
    Apart from the fact that raising the cpp taxes on everybody will help nearly everybody eventually – isn’t that beside the point? This plan would force them to save.
    I love how Harper seems to be inferring that a new tax will only benefit this class of spoilt
    loafer.
    But do feel free to tell us how you intend to make them save – another cut in the gst perhaps?

    • Just another wedge issue for the next election. There seems to be a number of posters on here already primed for this. Coincidence, I’m sure…

      • The absence of evidence for Harper’s assertion might support such a view eh. Who am i kidding, with these guys the absence of evidence “always” supports their assertions.

    • I suspect he is making this group up out of vapour. I note that he and his clan have presented no hard numbers on just how many affluent people don’t contribute to RRSPs, or have some other form of long-term security.

      Attacking the CPP is purely an attack on those who’ve had no means to save. The Cons will continue target the poor so long as their base continues to cheer the targeting.

      • Can’t wait for the media to challenge him on evidence…in the mean time i may take up knitting.

  7. The Dear Leader is all about personal responsibility? Then he should show leadership and take some responsibility for the Senate fiasco, for starters. We can talk later about some of the other debacles he has presided over.

  8. it’s always disappointing, (but not surprising) to hear Liberals, either the Provincial or Federal variety, espouse their view that CPP should be increased.
    What they cannot seem to grasp, is that people WOULD save more money…..but cannot, as the Government is taxing the hell out of them, leaving what is left to pay for essentials. Jacking up the CPP rates will just cause unemploymment, less savings, and provide the opportunity for political parties to buy support from those who will receive a benefit, but feel none of the pain.
    I think a course in Economics should be mandatory for anyone running for public office.
    Want me to save more? Simple…stop taking the money I WOULD be saving, and I will put it in the bank….as opposed to paying outrageous amounts for gas plants, or salaries for Liberal connected crooks.

    • Yeah, you keep drinking that Kool-Aid! Small incremental increases to CPP (what is what the provinces are asking to DISCUSS) will not destroy the economy. CPP pays higher returns than you can ever hope to achieve by putting an equal amount in the bank. In case you haven’t noticed, bank interest these days is almost negligible. One of my savings accounts pays a whopping 1/4% interest.

      • Comparing CPP returns to bank interest is IMO not reasonable. I would think that most middle class folks (which is who the reforms are aimed at) would be financially savvy enough to know that they would have to put their pre-retirement savings into mutual funds, stocks, bonds, etc (like CPP does) in order to achieve a reasonable return on investment.

        • Perhaps, but James wrote “put it in the bank” not invest it.

    • Since you seem to be in the habit of hectoring others in the fundamentals of Economics, what are your credentials in the dismal science?

    • Those much despised taxes pay for OAS GIS which is the real support for the elderly poor especially those living in nursing homes. Not to mention the enormous costs of modern high tech health care which those too old or disabled to work depend on.
      You seem to be speaking from the point of view of a 12 million dollar a year bank president. But taxes provide his super highways, airports, fire, police, water sewer (Do they need those?) I guess not.

    • Anyone in political office who buys or sells the line that CPP is a tax and not insurance for the future should spend a month as one of the working poor. Starting with Stephen Harper.

  9. Neither fed or provs actually want Canadians to start saving. Our governments would be horrified if anyone ever listened to pols and started saving money for future. Our governments are dependent on people shopping and spending for their revenue.

    • Hmm and corporations just make money out of thin air?

  10. Hey Geddes Don’t know if you have seen this but it caught my eye. The article is mostly about some other person but Geddes is mentioned.

    Daily Telegraph – Dec 19:

    Yesterday, at the Menin Gate, David Cameron mourned his great-great uncle, John Geddes, killed at Ypres on April 24, 1915. Geddes, a 37-year-old captain in the 16th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, is among 54,896 names recorded on the gate. Another 39,984 dead are remembered at the Tyne Cot cemetery, which the Prime Minister also visited.

    Cameron’s family lost five members in the First World War – this is not unusual. The numbers of dead are almost incomprehensibly enormous. Researching the story of John Geddes – whose Chicago-born sister, Rachel, married Cameron’s great-grandfather, Ewen Cameron – I found another 48 men called J Geddes also killed in the war.

  11. If people only bought what they could afford, instead of putting stuff on credit and also saved for their retirement many people would finally see just how lousy a large number of companies are paying them.

    It would finally end this false sense of “wealth” for many Canadians.

  12. Yes it IS about individual responsibility BUT I want to contribute to my CPP ABOVE the current maximum amount. I want the benefit of my money being managed by the world-class CPP Investment Board (hell they owned my local shopping centre in Rancho Penasquitos in San Diego!) without having to pay the fee-hungry/stock-churning buggers on Bay Street.

    • You bring up a good point, if you want to give more to CPP then you should have the option to. While I may prefer to do my own investing and put money into high dividend paying stocks.

      At the moment CPP and OAS I think are fine. my mother is on CPP/OAS, lives in a nice apartment, air conditioning, LCD TV, eats well and I think she is also saving a bit to give to her grandchildren when she passes.

    • Buy an indexed ETF and the fees will be lower than the CPP investment board and wall street gets almost nothing (their take is a fraction of a percent while the full fee is less than 1%).

      If you don’t want wall street to benefiit, then don’t buy managed funds. Buy exchange traded index funds.

      • My RRSP and TFSA is pretty much all ETFs. I only own individual stocks in my non registered brokerage account. However, my career/business has now taken off to the point where I cannot spend the required amount of time to properly monitor my holdings. The CPP Investment board management fee averages around 0.5% per annum which beats many ETF’s.

        • The only safety in investing is diversification. Putting more and more of Canadians’ future in the hands of a small group of CPP pension managers is not the road to safety, it’s the road to risk. It’s the same road upon which a small number of gigantic US banks threatened the world economy in 2008.
          Unlike you, I do not trust any group of money managers, whether hired by the government or by wall street. The less of my money on the hands of a CPP investment board, the better.

          • This explains much about you. Your comments always score very high on my Laughter Curve.

          • Yours score 0 on mine.

    • Sure, having the option probably would be a good idea. But that’s not what any of the Premiers are proposing. They’re proposing forcing people to contribute more.

      • Excellent point.

      • Are we sure about that? The story above seems to indicate that even with the Minister of Finance they were only given five minutes to explain the framework around what they might decide they want to propose.

        • They’ve been talking about it for months. All the premiers in favour of “the plan” have been talking about increasing CPP contributions. CPP contributions are not voluntary, they’re mandatory.

          • I was under the impression that voluntary contributions had been discussed. Since the Feds refused to discuss the matter, it’s difficult to know exactly what the proposals might be.

  13. “The more worrisome group,” Harper went on, “is a group of people who
    have reasonably affluent lifestyles but just don’t save. They have the
    opportunity to do so, so I don’t think the challenge is to raise CPP
    taxes on everybody. It’s to try and figure out how to get the people who
    actually need to save to do the saving they need to do.”

    That is 100% right. Forcing the entire population to remit more money in taxes because well-off people don’t do what the government tells them to do, that makes no sense. Canada is supposed to be a free country.

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, it is not low-income people who don’t save enough – the current programs do provide them the same level of income when they retire. It is affluent Canadians that are supposedly “the problem”.

    • I’d be curious to see hard numbers on just how many “affluent” people don’t save for the future. Complete with definitions of “affluent” and “save”. It sounds like a vapour demographic to me.

      • Yup. And in the absence of hard numbers, people like Harper are able to make unsubstantiated claims that just happen to line up with their ideology. I love the undercurrent of judgment that underlies Harper’s and Flaherty’s comments.

        And their supporters are able to call things like pension payments “taxes” because, well, what the hell. There’s no rigor anywhere else in the discussion.

      • So would I. However, even then, there would be significant disagreement upon:
        -how much is “enough” when you say saving “enough”
        -do seniors, who typically have paid off mortgages and student loans, need as much income? Generally I think the answer is no
        -how much do seniors want as income in retirement
        -how much do seniors needs as income
        -how many affluent people might have few liquid investments, aka “savings”, but large amounts of other wealth such as property and real estate (and hence don’t need “savings”, nor do they need “help”)
        -and so on

        These questions and answers differ for everyone. This is one more reason why I think a one size fits all CPP expansion is the wrong way to go.

      • This is what PEI said:


        “We need to reconsider where we go from here, what it will look like. A made-in-Ontario solution may involve every province of Canada,” said Wes Sheridan, the finance minister of Prince Edward Island, which has also said it would consider its own pension plan.

        Before the meeting, Mr. Sheridan told reporters that the provinces “can’t kick this can further down the road.”

        “We’re talking about 70% of Canadians without workplace pensions,” he said.

        Those earning between $30,000 and $100,000 are not saving enough to retire on, he added. “That’s where we’re really concerned.”

        So really, if you’re making 75K, how does the government know what you need or want in retirement? And if the government wants to force you to save more my taking it away from you, how does the government know you’re not currently spending that money on something better (eg high interest loans, helping out family, mortgage, etc).

        The truth is, this is about greed, and nothing more. This is about the current older generations taking more out of the existing pot, and that money to be made up by increased premiums on those with their whole working life ahead of them. Socialism is always about greed.

        • Lumping people from the $30,000 group with people from the $100,000 group creates a pretty wide swath from low- to high-income. It’s not a meaningful statistic.

  14. I am happy this tax won’t increase. CPP and EI are both, IMO, destructive employment taxes when what we really need is more employment. These taxes are a scourge to everyone’s well-being.

    • I like your wishful thinking, but all the jobs being created at the moment are McJobs in the service sector. Real jobs are not being created because all those corporate tax cuts were used to fund overseas adventures.
      When we all have service jobs, who is actually going to create wealth, because don’t look to corporations to do it.
      If the right has its way the US is a view into our future.

      • A, Canada’s not only seeing jobs created in service industries. Look at the oil sands as an example, or the technology industry.

        But even if that weren’t true, so we’re creating McJobs…. it’s better than no job creation at all, which is what the CPP increase would lead to. And unemployed people aren’t contributing to CPP either, so they won’t see any of the “benefits” of the tax increase.

        Increasing CPP won’t suddenly magically lead to more, better jobs. It will lead to the exact opposite.

        • Clawing back the corporate tax cuts would help stop our money from going overseas and being invested elsewhere while McJobs and natural resources jobs are all that remain.

          We could invest that in manufacturing and industries that add value and employ working class people here instead of Shanghai.

          • Right, brilliant idea. The best way to attract more business to Canada is to increase corporate taxes.

            Can you can explain to me how raising taxes on a corporation will result in it paying it’s employees more?

          • again, read the thread.
            It’s worse than trying to conduct a meaningful conversation with Francien.
            Also we have the lowest corporate taxes in the West by quite some margin and still they are refusing to reinvest in Canada. If they won’t invest here, then don’t give them tax breaks here.
            Or are you quite happy that our money is whisked off shore to pay for jobs elsewhere?

          • Again, how does increasing corporate tax rates stop corporations from going overseas? Because you say so?

          • It’ll stop our money going overseas.
            Our natural resources will still be located here and as that is all this government is interested in, if the corporations want it, they’ll have to come here to get it.

          • Gawd you are a CON troll. And most likely an Alberta idiot.

    • ”I am happy this tax won’t increase. CPP and EI are both, IMO,
      destructive employment taxes when what we really need is more
      employment.”
      You mean more of the same low wage, part time jobs for temporary foreign workers. That’s the ticket!

  15. Scrooge PMSH, in short: “Let them eat cat food.”

    • Right, because Canadians are all so stupid that they can’t possibly save for retirement themselves, they all need the government to do it for them. Why do Dippers always think Canadians are the dumbest, least competent people on the planet?

      • Reality-challenged Con politicians would prefer to believe that, like themselves, everybody has the financial means to save for retirement but people are just too stupid or shortsighted to do so, rather than admit that their relentless drive to suppress personal income has deprived many hardworking people of the disposable income to do much more than make rent and put food on the table.

        And to think, Cons love to point fingers at others and call them “elites”.

        • Can you give some examples of the “relentless drive to suppress personal income”? I’ve seen tax decreases that have put more money in people’s pockets. I’ve seen job creation strategies. I have not seen any concerted efforts to “suppress personal income”.

          • We could start with their war on organized labour and their program facilitating the importation of cheap immigrant labour. Both have had the effect of suppressing wages.

          • Where has their “war” on organized labour suppressed personal income?

            Do you have even a single shred of evidence that the temporary foreign workers program has suppressed any wages?

            Or are you just making things up again?

          • In how many public sector strikes has this government intervened, preventing or interrupting the bargaining process and tilting negotiations in favor of the employer?

            As for the importation of cheap labour, until the government was publicly embarrassed by the numbers, it was granting permits to hire immigrant labour at less than minimum wage, even in sectors and regions where there was no demonstrable shortage of local workers.

            And, if it has its way, it will introduce its laughably-euphemistic right-to-work legislation before it gets kicked out of office.

            All of these initiatives are designed to suppress the cost of labour (i.e., wages).

  16. I agree, it is about individual responsibility. I am now disabled and would be homeless and depressed … ,maybe dead if I had depended on government as for I would starve if I depended on CPP disability.

    CPP pays so little, poverty is assured if you depend on it for retirement. But to be fair, workers pay a lot for CPP (I know, I used to work), and the RIO on CPP be you older or younger is rather quite empathic really. As fro decades CPP returns have been below inflation and losing value…mismanaged by below inflation investing in crappy government bonds no one else will buy to just bad investing….

    Now Flaherty pandering more CPP pooled plan pooled scam. But people, get your pensions in your name/account/control and forget the gimmicks as pooled plans are pooled scams.

    But hey, Flaherty, Harper and others have 10.4% guaranteed annual return on their pensions…think about it…its about Ottawa getting more and you getting less. CPP/EI are employment taxes, you be lucky to get 25% residual value if you live to a 100….

  17. You can see that it is a matter of time before the same argument will be used as Harper tries to dismantle our health care system. The strategy thus far is to starve the system of necessary funds to improve or at least sustain it. The public system suffers as a result, triggering public anger. Then the Harper government starts throwing their free market panacea and gullible Canadians will bite. Walla, the private health care revolution under Harper starts.

    • The current government cut a single dime from healthcare transfers. The previous Liberal government did that to balance it’s budget, but the current government has increased healthcare funding every single year.

  18. How is people not responsible when you increase the CPP coverage? They still have to contribute to it. The difference is that people will not need to worry about picking investments and managing it. The CPP Investment Board will do it and they do it at a much lower cost.
    Harper’s Bay Street buddies don’t like an expansion of CPP because it would impact their business. As people pay more to CPP, they cut back on their own investment.
    It is not personal responsibility but Harper looking after his buddies on Bay Street.

    • Why should I not have the CHOICE to manage my own money if I want to?

  19. In other words, if you are working at minimum wage or less and can’t afford to contribute to RSP’s, too bad for you. As a government we’ll continue to support the top 1%. TOO BAD!!

  20. Want early retirement? Want wealth? Well, here are some hints.

    1) Don’t trust government or banks, they are in the business of getting as much of your money as they can and to do as little as they can to get it. They will deceive, lie, fee you to death… So shake off a lifetime of propaganda brainwashing that government is always good, they are not as all they do is over tax you.

    2) Always spend less than you earn. Ok, property tax and home/auto come in the same money so I have a negative draw once per year…. But the concept is to consistency on average spend less than you make. And if you don’t make enough, see 3)

    3) Invest in yourself, get knowledge to have more value skills. I was once told by a wise one, “You get paid on how easily you are to replaced, not how hard you work.” Its why doctors make more than common labour. This includes wage earning skills and investment knowledge as so what if you make money but don’t know how to keep and invest it.

    4) Do not waste energy on the sins of envy, jeolocy, denial and greed of others achievements, as if your wasting energy on these, then its why you are not succeeding with 1), 2) and 3).

  21. Oh, for crying out loud. Just let them eat cake. No point in losing your head over the issue.

  22. “…an excellent topic for voters to consider during an election campaign.” I’ll say it is. They’ve shot themselves in the foot, leg, arm and hand with this one. One of the worst things about ideology is that it doesn’t adapt to new and changing circumstances outside its narrow cage.

  23. So for those who have to choose between turning up the heat or buying food, saving for retirement isn’t even a choice.

    One solution would be raising the minimum by a dollar, raising the CPP deduction, raising corporate taxes by 1% and putting more dollars into infrastructure by the feds.

    • Oh yeah, it is so easy and nice to spend other people’s money. Perfect solution…just steal other peoples cash to fulfill your left wing whims.

      Just tax the genitals off everyone, so even THEY can’t afford to retire…that way governments can continue to grow gigantic useless bureaucracies funneling money this way and that way under political bias..

      No thanks. Scrap EI, Scrap CPP…let people take the current value of their contributions to these two outrageous employment taxes and use it to grow their own self-administered savings – without all the losses associated with BIg Government middlemen.

      We are taxed beyond any reasonable level in this radical left wingnut country. Our gov’t should be 1/2 the size it is.

  24. If there was a plan to roll your and your employer’s contributions to EI into your RRSP plan instead of these premiums going towards gov’t spending, the majority of hard working folks could enjoy a wealthy retirement.

    • So where are you going to put them?

      • Your own self administered EI/RRSP plan in conjunction with your financial advisor or bank.

  25. As someone in their early 40′s faced with decades of paying taxes, fees and health premiums today for retirement dollars spent yesterday, i applaud the PM and the Minister of Finance for resisting the impetus to continue mortgaging the entire country’s financial future to finance the “golden years” of the Boomers today.

  26. Having read a few comments with respect to the gov’t cpp position. It must be understood our economy is NOT in good shape – to take more from employers and employees is NOT the way to go at this time. Do you know how quickly our dollar as dropped from 1.10 down to 80 cents versus the American dollar? That’s good for sales outside of Canada but not for the Canadians who must therefore pay more for goods and food, etc. So – think twice about what the government is really saying without saying what is going on. This is not the time to increase more taxes on the population.

    • I wish some of you economic geniuses would say once and for all whether a lower dollar, and a boost to exporters, and greater exports over all, is a good thing?

      • A lower dollar IS a good thing for producers export of goods BUT not a good thing for people who have invested their savings. When the dollar falls – so do we all. ps It also keeps the dollars in Canada.

    • So employers are making record profits and we are suppose to believe their, and Harper’s, “Poor, poor Business” crap?

  27. What did Canadians expect when they voted in Harper. He is an acolyte of Ayn Rand and Milton Freidman. In Harper’s World the mantra is “Every man for himself”. And he doesn’t let FACTS get in the way of his ideology. According to Stats Canada only 1/3 of Canadians have RRSPs and most who do (with the exception of 1%) contribute $2,000 a year. Defined pension plans are disappearing and many Canadian employers offer no pension plan at all. Harper has turned Canada into a “Walmart Nation” and his government is nothing but a “subsidiary” of Corporate Canada. The generation coming behind will be working “until they drop” and Harper could care less.

  28. The CPP has been expanded into a welfare program and so has EI. Both programs are co-funded, EI by Government and the CPP by Employers. If a certain class of people are not saving enough then the obvious answer would be to remove the cap that employees contribute. To reduce the impact on Employers, their share should remain capped, but the employee could contribute on their full wage.

  29. How is making CPP contributions not considered saving?

    • I would think that it is a saving vehicle

    • Take your blinders off. it is a tax, not a savings vehicle. So is EI.

      Imagine for a moment that both of these were gone…your paycheque would be higher, and YOU could choose where to invest that extra income to meet YOUR needs.

      When government mandates a payment based on your employment – that is, by definition, a tax on your employment. When you tax something, you discourage that something. EI and CPP discourage employment.

      I therefore submit to you that if we want more employment, the place to start is the elimination of employment taxes. And that means EI and CPP.

      • @ Peter Campbell

        I call “Poppycock” on the idea that I can do more with my savings than the CPP plan can. Group savings are far more secure, subject to a better return and they are indexed. Employment Insurance is an excellent tool for those who live on wages. I consider it no different than house or car insurance. It needs to increase the minimum amounts it pays out to match the actual cost of living.

        Taxes are not a bad thing. They are a privilege that I am not willing to consider going without. There is no doubt that a society benefits at all levels with coordinated programs, careful regulations and overall governance.

        • I KNOW I can do better than CPP. Why, tell me, should I not have that choice?

          • You do have a choice if you are self employed, otherwise you must play as part of the team.

          • Which means you agree that it is a tax.

          • You can call it that if you label other mandatory employment programs such as extended benefits taxes as well.

            I have no qualms over the label, it is only the use of the monies that actually matters.

  30. The problem with relying on government for ones care is that you are relying on an entity that changes like the wind. Senior homes are only a 20th century creation as in prior centuries seniors tended to live with a member of the family. May not have always been the most harmonious or easy way, but it was a lot cheaper government back then as well.

  31. commentors lost their way – This was strictly about the CPP Canada Pension Plan and gov’ts belief to adding to it via employer and employee.

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