Manitoba suggests several improvements to CPP

Morneau will respond to Cameron Friesen's amendments directly

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Manitoba is seeking several amendments to a new national agreement to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, but Ottawa isn't about to entertain any more changes.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/06/2016 (2417 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba is seeking several amendments to a new national agreement to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, but Ottawa isn’t about to entertain any more changes.

At a news conference on Monday, Premier Brian Pallister and Finance Minister Cameron Friesen made several new proposals for consideration by their federal-provincial colleagues.

The proposed improvements included indexing the $2,500 death benefit that is paid to the estate of a deceased CPP contributor to inflation and ensuring widowed seniors don’t see guaranteed income supplement payments clawed back when they receive CPP survivor benefits.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Manitoba Minister of Finance Cameron Friesen and Premier Brian Pallister announce proposed changes to the CPP.

But the federal finance minister slammed the door to any further changes to the CPP on Monday.

Bill Morneau’s spokesman said the agreement negotiated last week will not be reopened, and the minister will respond to his Manitoba counterpart, Friesen, directly.

“A week ago today, the provinces and the federal government reached an historic agreement on behalf of all Canadians that will help people reach their goal of a strong, secure and stable retirement. We are 100 per cent committed to implementing that agreement,” Morneau communications director Daniel Lauzon said in an email to the Free Press.

The new deal will see maximum benefits rise by up to $4,300 a year for the average Canadian wage earner by 2023. Premiums by workers and employers will also rise — by $7 a month beginning in 2019, increasing to $34 a month more by 2023.

Manitoba abstained from voting on the deal at the Vancouver meeting, but its support wasn’t needed. The agreement already had the support of Ottawa and at least seven of 10 provinces representing at least two-thirds of Canadians. Quebec, which has its own plan, was the only other province not to endorse the new deal.

Earlier in the day, before Ottawa made its views known, Pallister refused repeatedly to say whether Manitoba now supported the agreement reached last week in Vancouver.

He said he hoped the feds and other provinces would consider Manitoba’s amendments, which would see a longer phase-in period for increasing the maximum pension benefit and assurances that disability payouts would rise in tandem with other pension increases.

“We have the opportunity not only to make the CPP bigger, we also have the opportunity to make it better,” the premier said.

Eventually, when asked if he could support the CPP deal if the rest of the country accepted Manitoba’s suggested improvements, Pallister said he would give “a preliminary yes” to the whole package if the province got what it wanted.

NDP finance critic James Allum said the PC government should have joined almost all other provinces in signing the agreement and then worked to improve the plan in the future.

“I think the premier’s position is too cute by half,” he said. “They had the opportunity eight days ago at the finance ministers meeting to put these kinds of amendments on the table for discussion and analysis and consensus. They didn’t do it.”

Allum said the government was wrong to think it had “leverage” to change the deal after the fact. “That’s not the way it works,” he said.

Friesen maintained that he has support from colleagues in other provinces for Manitoba’s proposals, but he refused to say who they were.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

History

Updated on Monday, June 27, 2016 6:17 PM CDT: writethru, new headline

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