On June 20-21, the Government of Canada will meet with the provincial governments in Vancouver to discuss reforming the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Like our counterparts at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, we are afraid that the bill for enhancements to the CPP will fall on businesses, who are already hard-pressed by the rising cost of doing business in Canada and Ontario.
We have requested that Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance in the Government of Canada, and Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance in the Government of Ontario, consider the pressure already on Canadian business in their deliberations. In our letter to both ministers, we suggested that any enhancements to the CPP should be voluntary, and funded by employees. Read our letter to Minister Morneau below (an identical copy was sent to Minister Sousa).
The Honourable Bill Morneau, P.C., M.P., Minister of Finance
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
We congratulate you on your decision to meet with the provincial governments on the subject of pension reform in Canada. Closer cooperation between the provinces and the federal government will be a key factor in building prosperity in Canada, and we are glad to see efforts such as this.
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in the Niagara region, and the third largest Chamber in Ontario. We represent over 1,550 members, employing more than 45,000 people. The Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada has recognized the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce with its highest level of distinction.
We wish to relay the grave concerns of our membership, and of the business community in general, on the subject of pension reform. In a time when the costs of doing business are rising, businesses are worried that additional, mandatory pension contributions, which effectively function as payroll taxes, will be another burden that they cannot afford. Many fear that pension program changes will compel them to downsize, lay workers off, delay or cancel expansions, and even to close their doors.
At the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, we share the opinion of the Ontario and Canadian Chambers: too many businesses can afford neither mandatory increases to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), nor the increases forthcoming in the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). Enhancements to the CPP must be voluntary and paid for by employees.
We suggest that employees should be able to contribute higher amounts to their CPP. Employees should be able to increase their contribution over the current 4.95% level, up to 6.85%, as suggested by the Canadian Chamber. This would take steps to resolve pension shortfalls while not imposing additional costs on businesses.
We realize that the interests of citizens, both as workers and as future retirees, and fiscal considerations for government are very important to this issue, but we hope you will also consider the interests of the businesses who employ those citizens, drive the Canadian economy, and have to bear this burden.
President & CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce