Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Often imitated, never duplicated

A quick note to those accusing the Libs of stealing the NDP's plan on pensions: people, don't sell the NDP's plan short like that. Yes, both plans deal with pensions and include some form of relief for workers whose employers go under - but otherwise, the Libs' plan is at best a pale imitation of what the NDP has suggested.

Here's the Libs' proposal for the CPP - i.e. the lone part of their plan that's even accessible to Canadians in general:
“Not enough Canadians are saving for retirement – which is why we need a hassle-free, safe and reliable way to save more,” said Mr. McCallum. “The Harper government should work with the provinces, pensioners, labour groups and the private sector to develop and implement an SCPP, which would allow Canadians to voluntarily invest extra funds in our trusted national pension.”

Supported by several provinces and pension experts, a national SCPP is one possible solution to the problem of low retirement savings. By providing an easy way for Canadians to put their extra savings towards future retirement income, an SCPP should be considered as part of reforms to the income security system that include Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
In other words, the Libs' plan for the Canada Pension Plan isn't to turn it into anything approaching a vehicle to provide a secure retirement for Canadians generally. Indeed, it's of absolutely no use to anybody who doesn't have both (a) enough "extra funds" to make voluntary contributions, and (b) little enough idea what to do with their money that they're not investing it in some form already.

Needless to say, that figures to be an awfully limited segment of the population. And aside from unstated "reforms" which aren't even outlined in broad terms let alone costed, the Libs don't have any intention of improving retirement outcomes for anybody else.

In contrast, here's the NDP's plan for universal pension coverage:
First, let’s eliminate seniors poverty—right now.

The mechanism is ready to go. We can put a price tag on it.

Statistics Canada figures the “poverty gap” among seniors at less than $700-million.

We propose increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement to close the gap.

This is a $700-million solution to ensure dignity for the seniors who built this country.

Our policies need to reflect that priority.

Second, let’s strengthen the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan.

Fully 93% of Canadians are already members. No other option provides so many advantages at so little cost.

Specifically, we propose phasing in a doubling of CPP/QPP benefits, in consultation with the provinces.

This would increase the top monthly benefit from $908 to $1817, helping to secure a liveable retirement for Canadians.

Doubling benefits will require an additional payroll deduction near 2.5%. That’s less than the administration fees alone on many RRSPs.
In other words, the difference is between a Liberal proposal which solves a nonexistent problem while ignoring the real issue of retiree poverty, and an NDP plan which actually ensures that every Canadian will be taken care of in their retirement. Which means that while it's worth pointing out that the Libs have indeed followed the NDP in recognizing pensions as an issue, their plan doesn't reflect so much a theft of the NDP's ideas as an attempt at counterfeiting using crayons and finger paint.

Update: In case there was any doubt, this gets a pass based on the sheer genius involved.

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