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November 1, 2013
For immediate release
Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Finance build on common ground
Finance and Energy
Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Finance met in Toronto to review the tasks assigned to them by Premiers as part of the Council of the Federation (CoF). Ministers had very productive conversations on the retirement income system, federal changes to programs affecting provinces and territories, ongoing fiscal imbalances between governments, and the modernization of federal-provincial fiscal arrangements.
At the July 2013 CoF, Premiers committed to the principle of enhancing Canada's public and private pension systems, including the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) and pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs). Premiers agreed on the need to consider specific options for enhancing the retirement income system including the CPP/QPP and PRPPs.
Provincial and territorial finance ministers took an important step forward today by finding common ground, including agreement on objectives that would underlie options to enhance the CPP. Ministers agree that any CPP enhancement should:
• Be responsible and fully funded and focus on today's workers;
• Moderate the short-term effects on businesses, families, and the economy;
• Improve the future retirement incomes of middle-income earners; and
• Protect lower-income workers.
Ministers recognize the need to continue discussions on a strategy to help improve the retirement income system to meet the needs of today's workers that includes both the introduction of PRPPs and options for an enhancement to the CPP. Ministers also agree on the importance of continued efforts to improve financial literacy. Ministers recognize these discussions should take into account the state of the economy and the funding requirements of the existing CPP program.
These discussions should continue the examination of options including consideration of different contribution models.
Ministers also emphasized the importance of engaging with key stakeholders such as business and labour groups as their work continues.
Ministers will report back on their discussion on the objectives and possible options to enhance the retirement income system to support Premiers' discussions later this fall.
Ministers also discussed and made progress on a number of other issues tasked to them by Premiers at this summer's CoF meeting.
• Ministers will update work on the state of federal-provincial fiscal imbalances and continued their work on the development of options for Premiers' consideration for modernizing traditional fiscal arrangements and specific economic programs. Ministers have agreed to and endorsed a set of objectives that can guide the development of options.
• In July, Premiers called on the federal government to avoid further changes to programs affecting provinces and territories, and particularly any measures involving cutbacks in financial support, including offloading and downloading responsibilities. Ministers have compiled a preliminary inventory of recent federal changes and will be presenting this to Premiers for consideration at their fall meeting.
• Premiers are concerned with the impact on provinces and territories resulting from the federal government's decision to increase the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement from 65 to 67. This may result in more senior Canadians requiring income assistance from the provinces to help them meet basic living needs while they wait to be eligible for OAS benefits. Finance ministers discussed their plan to quantify the impact on provinces and territories.