Politics
Timing not right to hike CPP premiums: Flaherty

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa December 14, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie

MARK DUNN | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says now is not the time reform the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), but he's willing to discuss changes with his counterparts, including phasing in premium hikes when the economy is in better shape.

"This not the time to put another burden on employers and dampen employment prospects for Canadians," he said Friday on the eve of talks with provincial and territorial ministers that begin Sunday night at a private dinner before moving to Meech Lake, Que., on Monday.

The feds need the consent of at least two-thirds of provinces and territories to change the CPP to increase benefits. Flaherty believes changes should only come if everybody agrees.

"I would not want to move ahead without everybody being on board."

Flaherty said one option on the table for consideration is phasing in premium hikes, similar to the way changes to Old Age Security are being introduced.

"It is something we could do going forward. It's a reasonable position to take."

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said he would support "modest" changes to the CPP, but "we are concerned with radical changes to the CPP that will drive up premiums."

Krawetz says now is not the time to "prohibit growth."

Besides CPP discussions, the ministers will also talk about economy, skills training, labour shortages, voluntary pooled registered pension plans, RRSPs and the 2013 budget.

Flaherty said he doesn't expect much chitchat on equalization, which expires in 2014, and transfer payments, which are set for the next little while.

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