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Ontario Moves Forward with ORPP

The Government of Ontario has reintroduced its budget, which includes the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP).
The ORPP will require equal contributions to be shared between employers and employees, not exceeding 1.9% each (3.8% combined) on earnings up to a maximum annual earnings threshold of $90,000.
The government says the plan will do the following:
- provide a predictable stream of income, indexed to inflation, and paid for life in retirement;
- be mandatory for the more than three million Ontarians without a workplace pension plan and will require fair and equal contributions from employees and employers;
- operate at arms-length from government, with implementation led by former CEO of OMERS Michael Nobrega;
- return long-term economic benefits to Ontario when payouts help people maintain their standard of living in retirement and continue spending; and
- be developed in consultation with pension experts, provinces, business and labour, in order to ensure that a broad range of perspectives is heard.
“We are all working to introduce this new pension plan in 2017,” said Charles Sousa, Ontario’s finance minister. “Going forward, we will continue to engage with other provinces and territories and welcome them to join our plan.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) commended the ORPP. “The importance of the ORPP being comparable to the Canada Pension Plan, so that it can be rolled into that plan at a later date, cannot be overstated,” said OFL president Sid Ryan.
However, a couple of industry associations are concerned about the implications of the ORPP.
The Retail Council of Canada says it’s concerned about the costs of the plan. Also, with sales nearly flat in Ontario for many categories, retailers say they will have no way of recouping these costs except by increasing prices or by decreasing staff or new hires.
“We have a substantial employer health tax, the second highest WSIB rates in Canada and now, we are looking at a new provincial retirement pension plan,” said Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of Retail Council of Canada. “There is a limit to the payroll contributions that retail businesses in this province can be expected to pay without there being a significant economic impact.”
Restaurants Canada says the budget puts more upward pressure on payroll costs, which means employers will create fewer jobs, particularly for young people looking for summer jobs or first-job experience.
“The new payroll tax on employers and employees that will be created by the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan is a serious concern for our members,” said James Rilett, the association’s vice-president for Ontario. “Ontario is already the toughest business climate in the country for food service operators. The ORPP adds to already-rising payroll, energy, food and beverage costs, with very little room to pass these costs along to consumers.”
The budget also reintroduced a number of other pension-related items, including plans to introduce pooled registered pension plan legislation in the fall.


Employees, Employers Diverge on Benefits Issues

Canadian companies realize that a healthy workforce is more productive, but there’s often a discrepancy between what employees expect from their health benefits and what these benefits actually offer. Different generations also have different expectations.
This is according to the 2014 edition of The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey, which polled 1,502 health benefits plan members and 500 benefits plan sponsors. Here are some of its key findings:
• 63% of boomers see health benefits are a perk or privilege, compared with 50% of generation Y employees.
• When offered the choice between $5,000 in cash a year or their health benefits plan, 45% of millennials would choose the cash, compared with just 25% of boomers.
• 75% of millennial employees want more flexibility in their health benefits plan and the ability to choose what’s covered and how much is covered, compared with 66% of baby boomers.
• Nearly half (48%) of benefits plan members expect to have access to their current benefits plan after retirement. However, only 23% of employers are offering some kind of coverage or access to coverage after retirement.
• When it comes to health screenings, 91% say they would get tested for cancer, 89% for heart disease, 84% for diabetes and 75% for stress or mental health. However, only 35% of surveyed employers are likely to offer screening for mental health, 34% for heart disease, 34% for diabetes and just 24% for cancer.
• 79% of employers believe their insurance carriers should play a bigger role in helping them keep their workplaces healthy.


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