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Ontario touts support for a CPP raise

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OTTAWA -- Ontario says there is enough support among provinces to act now on enriching the Canada Pension Plan and is urging Ottawa not to wait for unanimity.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Sunday he believes Quebec may be prepared to support modest enhancements of the CPP, which would meet the support threshold of two-thirds of provinces with two-thirds of the country's population.

When enriching the CPP was discussed two years ago, Quebec and Alberta balked and Ottawa settled on the creation of a voluntary program for workers without company plans called the Registered Pooled Pension Plan.

"Until now, they said we didn't meet the test. Now I suspect we will, depending on what Quebec does," Duncan said on his way into a Sunday dinner with colleagues prior to today's meeting. The issue is expected to dominate today's talks, even though federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made clear he does not expect anything concrete to emerge. He said the time to increase CPP contributions is when there is "significant economic growth."

The Ontario minister said with baby boomers moving into retirement, many without sufficient funds, it is essential policy-makers address the inadequacies of the public pension program.

Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau appeared sympathetic to Ontario's position, saying he was "open to improvement" and would try to work something out with other provinces. The only province to come out publicly against enriching CPP is Alberta

New Democrats and the Canadian Labour Congress have proposed doubling what CPP would pay out over a seven-year period to $1,868 a month. The initiative is generally opposed by business groups, however.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 17, 2012 A12

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