BC to support Ottawa’s proposal to expand Canada Pension Plan

OTTAWA — The British Columbia government has given its blessing to enhancing the Canada Pension Plan, a critical vote of support that opens the door for Ottawa to gradually increase contributions and retirement benefits.  In a statement Tuesday, the B.C. government said it decided to back the proposal after considering feedback from stakeholders.  That was quickly followed by a declaration of victory from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said now that all nine of the provinces taking part have agreed to the enhancement, legislation would be introduced in the House of Commons “shortly.”

Initially, every province except Quebec backed a tentative deal to expand CPP and they agreed to finalize it by July 15.  But B.C. was the lone signatory that declined to ratify the agreement-in-principle by the deadline, saying it needed more time to consult businesses and individuals.  “After hearing from thousands of British Columbians and Canadians, I’m confident the changes will have a meaningful impact on retirement income security at an affordable contribution rate,” B.C. Finance Minister Michael de Jong said in a statement.

B.C.’s support was crucial for the CPP’s expansion, which has been a central goal for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau but which required the support of at least seven provinces representing no less than two-thirds of Canada’s population.

The CPP proposal has faced criticism from business owners, who would have to boost contributions for their workers, and political opponents.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, has said that some employers warn that CPP changes would likely force them to eliminate jobs.

Kelly has said the weakened economy makes it a risky time to lay extra costs on employers.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has described CPP expansion as a “tax hike” that will cost families thousands of dollars.