Wynne May Allow Self-Employed To Opt In To Ontario Pension Plan
By Susanna Kelley
TORONTO - Kathleen Wynne may broaden the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan to include the self-employed by giving them a provision to opt-in if elected Premier on June 12th.
"One of the things we're looking at is how we could let those folks in, we don't have that detail at this point ... but it is something ... we are working on" she said at a combined campaign stop and local event in her home riding of Don Valley West in Toronto.
Asked why the self-employed had been excluded from her plan in the first place, Ms. Wynne said the Liberals were trying to cover the 65 per cent of Ontarians who do not have a workplace pension.
Ms. Wynne said, "that was the advice we got" but did not explain.
"We didn't deliberately exclude people who were self-employed and we are looking at ways that they can opt-in," she said.
Premier Wynne also said Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to "move out of the way" while her party brings in an Ontario pension plan, since he's not willing to improve retirement prospects himself by enhancing payouts from the Canada Pension Plan.
Ms. Wynne was responding to criticisms made by Prime Minister Harper within hours of the election date being announced, calling the Ontario pension plan "a tax" that Ontario voters will not support.
"It was unusual that the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, intervened in a provincial election so early to make this criticism, especially when we're putting out a proposal that actually fills a gap that he's unwilling to take up," she said.
Indeed, before Mr. Harper became Prime Minister, his predecessors traditionally remained neutral in Ontario elections, knowing they would have to work with whoever was elected Premier.
"My hope would have been that he would have been supportive or at least move out of the way so that we could get that pension plan in place," said Ms. Wynne at an event in her riding of Don Mills West in Toronto.
Ontario has told Mr. Harper and the federal Conservatives that the Canada Pension Plan's maximum payout of about $12,500 is not high enough, and since they are not willing to enhance it, the Liberals proposed to increase the maximum to over $25,000 in the Liberals' proposed Ontario plan.
The proposed pension plan for Ontario was the centrepiece of the Liberal budget, and now, their election campaign.
The June 12 vote was called Friday after NDP leader Andrea Horwath said her party would not support the budget presented by the Liberal government the day before. PC leader Tim Hudak made it clear for months he would not support it either, and hence the government would have fallen if it had come to a vote.
Instead, Premier Wynne asked the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and an election date is set for June 12.
While Ms. Wynne said she is not running in this campaign against Mr. Harper, she went on to criticize the federal Conservatives for failing to give enough support to developing the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario.
"We need a partner in terms of support for the Ring of Fire, we've put $1 billion on the table in our budget for infrastructure to develop the Ring of Fire's massive mineral deposit in Northern Ontario," she said.
"In the same way the federal government works with Alberta and invests in the oil sands, we would have thought that the national interest would have been to invest in and support the Ring of Fire so we're looking for that kind of partnership."