AccounTrust (post until Sept. 30/19)
Administrative & Government

Feds shortsighted on CPP, retirement security regrettable

By Jeremy Richler

Intergovernmental squabbles over pressing policy matters  have been a part of Canada since Confederation. Yet the shortsightedness by the federal government on an issue such as CPP, and the financial security required for proper retirement, is truly regrettable.

The only cover for the government is that there are no legal breaches on their part in choosing to deflect such a vital issue, as expressed by the provinces.

The Supreme Court should never have jurisdiction to make policy, but rather, only to quash or overturn government legislation when there has been an identifiable breach, and one that is not a reasonable limit, as prescribed by the Charter. There is little that the courts can do to overturn policy directives from a government of any stripe on the grounds that they might be unpopular or void of social empathy.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, speaking for the Conservatives, is completely entitled to the opinion that, according to a CBC article, "CPP payroll taxes can hurt the economy and distract from what truly matters for all Canadians — keeping our economy strong, and our finances in a strong fiscal footing is the plan of this government."

This short-sighted approach is dull, uninspired and rather weak in terms of policy. Economic security undoubtedly means a prosperous economy and a competitive market, without which social programs rely on for their funding.

It is also true that ensuring security for future generations cannot be fixed merely by tinkering, or even substantively reforming CPP alone. Inadequate savings on behalf of Canadians, and a stagnant job market with an increase in lower-paying service jobs are essential challenges that must be broached as part of a comprehensive package.

That Flaherty and the Conservatives could demonstrate such indifference to the plight of many hard-working, lower- and middle-income Canadians who are finding it more difficult to get ahead, raises serious questions about whether they really are the competent stewards of the economy, which has been at the core of their political brand since coming to power in 2006.

If the Conservatives continue on this track, echoed just last week by insensitive remarks by Industry Minister James Moore (for which he has unequivocally apologized), this government should not be surprised if voters send them packing come election 2015, in part for neglecting to substantively affirm their core brand-selling feature, that of steady, responsible economic stewardship.

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