Mitch Frazer participates on pension reform panel at University of Western Ontario's Faculty of Law

Pension Plan Reform at University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law

October 11, 2009

The University of Western Ontario's Faculty of Law hosted a forum on pension reform on Thursday, featuring community leaders, academics and legal practitioners.

University of Waterloo Professor Robert Brown explained many of the basics behind pensions. Mitch Frazer continued the discussion, focusing on the creation of a supplemental pension plan.

Mitch sees two major methods of reform: fixing the system in the ways described by Professor Brown and looking at alternative solutions. Regarding the latter, Mitch provided the following background:

  • Canada has a significant aging population: by 2031, the aging population will have almost doubled; over 25% of the population will be older than 65, while in 2005, only 13% of the population was older than this age.
  • There is less participation in occupational pension plans (pension plans other than CPP) by private sector employees. In Alberta and British Columbia, pension plan participation is just over 20%, and 25% in Ontario. Thus, as people are aging and needing some form of pension plan, there are less people contributing.
  • Many employers are terminating or not offering pensions.
  • The decline in the stock market has resulted in diminished retirement funds.
  • There is a decrease in the personal savings rate, coupled with record-high debt.

 

There have been initiatives to address these problems, including provincial reviews of the relevant legislation. Canada's federal government has also initiated consultations on the federal regulatory framework, and there is increased commentary by professionals and academia. But only Quebec has been successful in considerably revising its pension plan, and it continues to revise it every few years.

A positive outcome of the economic crisis is that there is increased focus on pension plans, similarly to the focus on CPP reform in the mid-90s.

Read the full article here.

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