Op-Eds

We have often heard that Canadians are unprepared for retirement. Low interest rates have meant low returns to saving and have accelerated the demise of defined-benefit pension plans in the private sector. People — we are told — are not saving enough for retirement to compensate. But such fears of retirement unpreparedness are overblown. Studies on the subject have typically ignored retirement savings beyond the three traditional retirement pillars of: 1) Old-Age Security (OAS and the Guaranteed Income Supplement); 2) CPP and the Quebec Pension Plan; and 3) workplace pensions and RRSPs. Specifically, gloomier reports have neglected wealth accumulated in the fourth pillar of retirement, made up of non-pension assets. As Fred Vettese and...
Earlier this week, The Globe and Mail revealed internal research by government officials showing a global trend toward older normal pension ages, with most OECD countries’ target policy retirement age to be raised to at least 67 by around 2050. An eventual increase in the normal retirement age, here in Canada, appears inevitable. Despite this trend, Ottawa recently reversed course and cancelled a scheduled gradual increase in the Old Age Security (OAS) eligibility age from 65 to 67, to be fully implemented by 2030. The recent decision fails to recognize longer life expectancy since the 65-year-old benchmark was adopted, and the current marked trend towards later retirements. Projections show that by 2030, about 40 per cent of...
Has anyone ever looked at their paycheque and said, “I sure wish they’d take more of my money”? That was the question posed by federal Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose Monday as federal and provincial finance ministers met in Vancouver to discuss proposals to expand the Canada Pension Plan. In the end, they agreed on a sizable expansion of the CPP. Is this what Canadians really want? I honestly think the answer is yes – at least for the most part. The main target for a CPP expansion has been a group of middle-income individuals who don’t have workplace pensions. The public pension system will be central to financing their retirement. We know many of them simply fail to save. CPP offers a commitment device, forcing individuals to...
The threat that the roll-out of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) in 2018 may further fragment Canada’s retirement system has moved Canada Pension Plan (CPP) expansion up the agenda for the June 20 federal-provincial finance ministers’ meeting. Yes, a bigger CPP looks better than the ORPP – but that is not saying much. Perhaps some higher-income Canadians could save more, but lack the foresight or discipline to do it. Even so, they – like so many lower-income earners the ORPP will hurt – might do poorly under an expanded CPP. Why is that? Recall the standard pitch for an RRSP, or any other retirement saving plan where money going in is not taxed as income, and money coming out is. The idea is that the saver’s tax rate will be...
What returns can we earn on our saving? In planning for retirement, few questions matter more. Project prudently and all should be well; count on a bonanza that falls through – not so good. What is true for individuals is true for pension plans. Those that forecast conservatively and back their obligations well tend to pay what they promise; those assuming turbo-charged returns to fund rich benefits on the cheap might not. So far, the debate over a bigger Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) has skirted this question. The going assumption – explicit in the ORPP’s numbers; implicit in conversations about “fully funded” CPP expansion – is that assets in these plans will earn 4 per cent annually in real...