Economy too weak to boost Canada Pension Plan, Flaherty says

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says now is probably not the time to enrich the Canada Pension Plan.

In an interview on CBC Radio's The House, Flaherty told host Evan Solomon the subject will come up for discussion when he meets with his provincial counterparts beginning on Sunday.

"We are not closed-minded about it," said Flaherty.

The federal finance minister says he still supports enhancing the CPP in the future, but that "in a time of very fragile, very modest economic growth, it probably is not the time to put further burdens on employers and employees."

A number of provinces, led by Ontario, are pushing for a modest enhancement of the national plan as a way of dealing with the fact that many Canadians have no company pension plans to fall back on when they retire.

Ottawa is expected to present several options for modest enhancement of the plan at the meetings, along with a request for provinces to adopt a system of voluntary pooled pension plans.

But a spokesman for Ontario says that province will not go ahead with the pooled plan concept unless there is also action on the CPP.

Although technically Ottawa could move ahead on CPP enhancements with the support of two-thirds of provinces representing two-thirds of the national population, Flaherty wants to see unanimous approval before acting.

"The relationship with the provinces is very good on this issue. We'll talk about — if we were to do this, when would we do it?" Flaherty said.

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