* Province also pushing for enhanced federal plan
* Other provinces could adopt similar approach
* More talks over “national solution” set for June (Adds comment from Ontario finance minister on pension reform)
By Matt Scuffham
TORONTO, April 14 (Reuters) - Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will continue to push for a national solution to pension reform while pressing ahead with plans to introduce a new provincial pension scheme, its finance minister said.
Ontario said on Thursday it was introducing legislation to ensure all 4 million workers in the province are enrolled in the new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan or a comparable workplace pension plan by 2020.
The refusal of the previous federal Conservative government to change the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) had prompted Ontario’s Liberal government to go out on its own to boost retirement security for residents but the election of a federal Liberal government in October opened the door to new cooperation.
“We’re going down both tracks at this point because we don’t want to delay what’s critical, which is to try to find a solution for Ontario workers who don’t have a pension plan,” Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa told reporters.
Sousa said he would meet with counterparts in other provinces in June. An enhancement to the CPP would require support from two-thirds of provinces representing two-thirds of the population.
“There seems to be again a lack of desire by certain provinces to proceed so we are going to meet in June,” Sousa said. “We are looking for ways to move forward with a greater national solution to this problem.”
Like other governments around the world, Canada faces a challenge to provide for its aging population. The CPP federal plan is deemed by some pension experts as insufficient to provide workers with enough desired income in retirement without being supplemented by a workplace pension.
The Ontario plan is designed to provide a predictable stream of income in retirement, paid for life. Its introduction would help address a “pension gap,” as two-thirds of Ontario’s workers do not participate in a workplace pension plan.
Sousa said other provinces could adopt similar plans if the CPP is not expanded.
“The Atlantic provinces seem to be very keen. I had a discussion with the minister of finance for British Columbia last night. I’ve had discussions with Quebec on these matters to determine how we can move forward on this. Saskatchewan was less engaged,” he said.
“We understand there are some regional differences but at the same time all of them acknowledge that CPP as it stands today is insufficient to meet the needs going forward.”
Editing by Bill Trott and Matthew Lewis