Politicians have a unique opportunity to achieve a national consensus on enhancements to public retirement programs when the Finance Ministers meet on June 20th.
Making changes to long-standing retirement programs is like steering a large ocean liner. Carefully planning and plotting a course must occur well in advance as changes cannot be made at the last moment. Such is the case with the current thinking surrounding the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
While Canadians have been well served by the proverbial three-legged stool of Canada’s retirement system (public programs, workplace pension plans and personal savings), middle-income earners in the private sector are often at a disadvantage. Lacking access to workplace pensions, they will face the largest gaps when planning for their own retirement needs.
Individual provinces are starting to create pension options to bridge the gap facing private sector workers. However, a modest enhancement to the CPP, aimed at middle-income earners, would be the most efficient way to help Canadians retire more comfortably in the future by leveraging a well-run national pension program.
While there is room for an enhancement to the CPP, it shouldn’t try to do everything for everyone. Public retirement programs should not be a one-size-fits all solution as individual needs and wants will differ. There is also an important role for workplace pension plans as companies will want to ensure that their employees save enough money to retire at a time that aligns with the company’s workforce needs.