As Ontario’s economy emerges from the global recession, Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth will help ensure sustained economic growth and job creation by significantly improving Ontario’s tax competitiveness. A more competitive tax system allows Ontario businesses to better compete in export markets and enhances Ontario’s attractiveness as a location for businesses to invest, leading to more jobs and higher incomes for Ontarians.
“Coming out of this global recession, it is the government’s responsibility to take action to get people back to work and get more businesses investing in Ontario. To do nothing is simply not a good option and I commend the McGuinty government for taking this bold step forward.”
Maritime-Ontario Freight Lines Ltd., July 29, 2010.
“We want to bring on more quality staff and create more quality jobs, and the HST is one thing that will help us get there a little bit sooner.”
Jas Brar, Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Entripy Custom Clothing, May 18, 2010.
“Ontario has made great strides in recent years to substantially improve competitiveness of the business tax system: from the elimination of capital tax, corporate income tax cuts, reduction of Corporate Minimum Tax, elimination of the small business claw-back, accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for manufacturing and process equipment, elimination of the PST, to the harmonization of sales tax, these measures collectively lower the after tax cost of capital investment in Ontario significantly. I am not sure how many jurisdictions can boast such a nice score card.
The recent tax measures put in place by the Ontario government have significantly benefited our business in terms of helping manufacturing companies become more competitive in the global market place. At our Tiercon facilities we’ve been able to actually triple the employment levels from just over 80 in 2005, to almost 300 people in 2011. These tax measures help improve productivity by incentivizing companies to invest in new process, technology and innovations, in addition to freeing up cash flow for operations.”
AGS Automotive Systems & Tiercon, March 9, 2011.
The plan also provides significant direct benefits to Ontarians. To further assist Ontario households, this Budget proposes to combine payments of three tax credits provided under the plan into the Ontario Trillium Benefit and deliver it monthly to help low- to moderate-income families and single people better manage their household expenses.
During the first full year of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), Ontario households will have a total net saving of $2.5 billion under the plan and the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit. During the third full year, when the Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit is no longer available, the total net saving will amount to $530 million.
A strong and competitive tax system also needs enhanced enforcement and compliance. This Budget proposes a number of measures to ensure that those owing taxes pay their fair share and that Ontario’s tax system yields the revenue necessary to support public services.
The three pillars of Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth build a strong foundation for job creation, long-term economic growth and preservation of public services.
|Relief for People||Sales Tax Reform||Competitive Business Taxes|
|1 All estimates are based on full implementation. Estimates are as of the 2010 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, except where otherwise noted with an asterisk (*).|
Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth provides tax relief of $12 billion to people over three years.
The plan permanently reduced Ontario’s first Personal Income Tax (PIT) bracket rate from 6.05 per cent to 5.05 per cent on January 1, 2010, which means that Ontarians currently pay the lowest provincial PIT rate on their first $37,774 of taxable income.
“Coming into this budget we had serious concerns that tax harmonization would mean low-income families paying more for their basic needs such as children’s shoes and meals. The Sales Tax Credit is a sensible, forward-looking way to deal with that, and could become an important long-term piece of the economic security puzzle for poor people in the future. We applaud the government’s plan.”
Michael Oliphant, Director of Research and Communications,
Daily Bread Food Bank, March 26, 2009.
For families receiving provincial sales tax credits, the Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC) provides, on average, the most generous provincial sales tax relief in Canada.
The government has delivered on its 2010 Budget commitment to create a new web portal to improve access to program information. The new web portal was launched in March 2011. A calculator to help people estimate how much money they can receive from a number of Ontario tax credits and benefits by filing an income tax return is now available online.
Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit — Families can get three payments totalling up to $1,000. Single people can get three payments totalling up to $300.
Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC) — Ontario families can get up to $260 per year for each adult and child. Seniors and single people can also qualify.
Children’s Activity Tax Credit (CATC) — Parents who have children enrolled in extracurricular activities can get up to $50 per year for each child under 16. They can receive up to $100 for each child with a disability who is under 18.
Ontario Child Benefit — Parents can get up to $1,100 per year for each dependent child under 18.
Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant — Seniors who own a home can qualify to get up to $500 per year to help with their property taxes.
Guaranteed Annual Income System — Ontarians who are 65 or older can qualify for up to $996 per year to guarantee a minimum level of income. Payments are issued monthly on top of federal Old Age Security pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement payments.
Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit (OEPTC) — Ontarians can get up to $900 per year to help with the sales tax on energy and with property taxes. Qualifying seniors can get up to $1,025 back.
Northern Ontario Energy Credit (NOEC) — Residents of northern Ontario can get up to $130 for a single person or up to $200 for a family per year.
Note: These credits and benefits are reduced or eliminated for higher-income people, except for the CATC. Amounts shown are for benefit years beginning in 2010. The amounts for OSTC, CATC, OEPTC and NOEC are adjusted each year for inflation.
Refundable tax credits play an important role in providing low- to moderate-income Ontarians with relief for taxes and energy costs. As part of Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth, the government is providing $1.4 billion annually in enhancements to assistance provided through the refundable Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC), Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit (OEPTC) and Northern Ontario Energy Credit (NOEC), for a total of $2.4 billion each year.
The government has introduced changes to better match the payment of these credits to when people incur expenses by paying these credits earlier and on a quarterly basis, instead of paying them in a lump sum after people file their income tax returns.
The Province proposes to take the next step in transforming refundable tax credits by introducing the Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB) in July 2012. To better align the timing of the assistance with the expenses that people face, the payments of these three credits would be combined and delivered on a monthly basis. More frequent and predictable benefit payments would help low- to moderate-income families and single people better manage their household budgets.
A single parent with one child and adjusted net income of $20,000 paying $629 per month in rent would receive a total of $936 from the OSTC and OEPTC over eight payments. Under the proposed OTB, the single parent would receive 12 equal monthly payments.
A senior couple with adjusted family net income of $35,000 paying $1,200 per month in rent would receive a total of $984 from the OSTC and OEPTC over eight payments. Under the proposed OTB, the couple would receive 12 equal monthly payments.
A family of four with adjusted family net income of $25,000 paying $920 per month in rent would receive a total of $1,536 from the OSTC and OEPTC over eight payments. Under the proposed OTB, the family would receive 12 equal monthly payments.
Under the old Retail Sales Tax, most businesses paid sales tax on their purchases, which raised production costs and consumer prices. The HST refunds the sales tax paid by most businesses. These refunds (or input tax credits) provide a cost saving to businesses that can be passed on to consumers through lower prices. Also, for items that are newly taxed under Ontario’s portion of the HST, businesses might absorb part of the tax increase due to competitive pressures. In both situations, the impact of the HST on consumers is reduced.
“We’re saving this year thousands of dollars from the demise of the PST and the introduction of the HST and our customers are already saving… the HST is a win-win for my company and our clients.”
Brent Kobayashi, President, Kobayashi Online, July 2, 2010.
A recent study by Professor Michael Smart of the University of Toronto examined the impact of the HST on consumer prices in Ontario during the first six months of the HST.1 The study found that, over this period, the impact of the HST on consumers did indeed decline as businesses either passed through savings or absorbed part of the tax increase. Professor Smart estimated that by December 2010, an amount equal to about two-thirds of the saving to businesses from input tax credits had already been passed on to consumers through lower prices.
A study by Professor Michael Smart on the impact of the HST on Ontario consumers found that:
To view Professor Smart’s report, visit http://policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications.
Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth and the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit will result in an overall saving to households. During the first full year of the HST, when two of the three Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit payments are made, Ontario households have a total net saving of $2.5 billion. During the third year when the transitional benefit is no longer available, the net saving is $530 million (see Table 1).
|Year 1||Year 32|
|Tax Shift to Consumer Base3||4,230||4,670|
|Personal Income Tax Cut||(1,130)||(1,130)|
|Ontario Sales Tax Credit Enhancement||(825)||(825)|
|Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit Enhancement||(525)||(525)|
|Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit||(2,785)||–|
|Northern Ontario Energy Credit||(35)||(35)|
|Children's Activity Tax Credit||(75)||(75)|
|Ontario Clean Energy Benefit||(305)||(685)|
|Total Relief for Households||(5,680)||(3,275)|
|Pass-Through of Business Savings||(1,075)||(1,925)|
|Total Savings to Households||(2,525)||(530)|
Table 2 presents the average saving or cost to Ontario households by income range. In the first full year of the HST, households with income up to $300,000 will, on average, have an overall net saving. In the third year, when the transitional benefit is no longer available, households with income under $90,000 — representing over two-thirds of the households — will, on average, have a net saving. In both years, the net saving generally declines as income rises.
|Annual Income3||Per Cent of
|Year 1||Year 32|
Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth provides more than $4.8 billion of business tax relief over three years, including reducing the statutory Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate2 for large and small businesses and eliminating the small business deduction surtax. This is in addition to HST input tax credits, Capital Tax elimination, Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions and savings from a single corporate tax administration.
These comprehensive tax reforms, when fully implemented, will position Ontario as one of the most attractive jurisdictions in the industrialized world for new investment. Increased business investment will lead to more jobs and higher incomes for Ontarians.
Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth reduces Ontario’s general statutory CIT rate to 10 per cent by 2013. The first step of the plan was implemented on July 1, 2010:
The CIT rate reductions will increase Ontario’s competitiveness within Canada and with the province’s largest trading partner, the United States. In 2009, prior to the plan, Ontario’s general statutory CIT rate of 14 per cent was the second highest provincial CIT rate in Canada. When Ontario’s general CIT rate reaches 10 per cent in 2013, it will be among the lowest provincial rates in the country. Ontario’s tax advantage over the average combined federal–state rate in the United States will widen from just over six percentage points in 2009 to almost 15 percentage points when the CIT rate reductions are fully implemented.
Ontario needs to be competitive not only within North America, but also with other countries around the world. Ontario’s CIT rate reductions will put Ontario in line with the average CIT rate of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries. Ontario’s gap with the average CIT rate in the European Union and in other advanced economies such as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan will also be narrowed.
Ontario’s CIT rate reductions will also make the business tax structure fairer and more efficient. The current tax system provides a preferential CIT rate for income from manufacturing and resource activities. Gradually moving to a single CIT rate of 10 per cent will make the tax system more neutral across sectors, recognizing the service sector as a key source of new technology and high-paying jobs.
Competitive CIT rates are also important in reducing the revenue loss from companies shifting income to lower-tax jurisdictions. With competitive CIT rates, Ontario will benefit from higher levels of investment and economic activity.
In addition to the CIT rate reductions in the plan, the Province has:
The government has also streamlined the tax system to make it work more efficiently and effectively. This complements Ontario’s Open for Business initiative, which is aimed at making government faster, smarter and more streamlined for families and business.
Moving to a single federal corporate tax administration saves businesses over $135 million per year in compliance costs. The HST also reduces compliance costs for businesses, providing additional savings of more than $500 million per year. These savings can be passed through to consumers and reflected in lower prices.
“The administrative savings will be significant.”
Phil Deck, Executive Chairman, MKS Inc, October 14, 2009.
“The government’s tax package will help us greatly reduce our sales tax compliance costs, allowing us to redeploy those funds into the areas of our business that will drive long-term value creation.”
John Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Desire2Learn Incorporated, June 9, 2010.
“After a bit of an adjustment period we have found the amount of paper work, the fact we don’t have to chase after customers’ PST exempt certificates, and the savings on non-PST exempt purchases, to be an enormous benefit.”
Clearmount Ltd., October 26, 2010.
“Ontario’s adoption of a harmonized sales tax is helping to drive investment… (and) consumer confidence is also on the rise.”
RBC, Provincial Forecast, February 2011.
“The HST is crucial to both the short-term recovery and the long-term prosperity of Ontario’s manufacturing sector.”
Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, June 29, 2010.
“Moving to a harmonized sales tax is very good for the economy and it’s certainly going to help with our business competitiveness. It’s in the best interests of the economy in the long term.”
Janet Ecker, President, Toronto Financial Services Alliance, October 10, 2009.
In order to assess the impact of business taxes on capital investment, it is important to consider not only statutory CIT rates but also other elements of the tax system.
The marginal effective tax rate (METR) provides a comprehensive measure of the tax burden on new business investment. It takes into account federal and provincial/state CIT, capital taxes and sales taxes.
The HST and Ontario CIT rate cuts, together with the elimination of Ontario’s Capital Tax and federal CIT rate reductions, will lower Ontario’s METR on new business investment from 32.8 per cent in 2009 to 16.2 per cent in 2018. The sharp reduction in Ontario’s METR to 18.6 per cent in 2010 places Ontario below the average rates in 2012 for the United States and OECD member countries.
This significant improvement in Ontario’s tax competitiveness for new business investment will encourage businesses to locate or expand operations in the province, leading to more jobs and higher incomes for Ontarians. It is estimated that, by 2020, the reduction in the tax burden on new business investment in Ontario will lead to $47 billion in capital investment, almost 600,000 net new jobs and higher annual incomes of up to 8.8 per cent.3
A federally appointed panel is reviewing the effectiveness of federal support for business innovation, including direct spending programs and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program.
Ontario shares the federal government’s interest in enhancing business innovation, a key driver in productivity and competitiveness that helps to ensure long-term economic prosperity.
The SR&ED program is the federal government’s most significant research and development (R&D) incentive, providing stable and reliable tax support to businesses of all sizes and across all sectors and regions of the country. The SR&ED program is designed to be driven by market needs, leaving it to businesses rather than government to determine how and where to conduct R&D.
The Province looks forward to working with the federal government to improve the effectiveness of federal R&D tax support through such measures as strengthening administration, enhancing support for collaboration between the business and education sectors, and levelling the playing field for small businesses that perform R&D.
While the federal review is an opportunity to enhance the program’s effectiveness, the fairness and impartiality provided through tax support should be maintained.
In November 2010, the federal government released a public consultation paper on whether a formal system for the taxation of corporate groups should be implemented in Canada. Many countries have a formal system for taxation of corporate groups.
The Canadian corporate tax system has unique features that must be respected. Provincial governments have responsibility for key programs such as health and education, and are entitled to tax the economic activity taking place within their jurisdictions. The focus of any changes should be to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the Canadian corporate tax system and ensure that provinces receive the revenues to which they are entitled.
The Estate Administration Tax is applied to the value of an estate when the estate’s representative applies to the court for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee. Currently, court staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General administer the tax. The government will propose amendments to the Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998 to enhance compliance by integrating the administration of this tax with audit and verification functions at the Ministry of Revenue, starting January 1, 2013.
In 2010, Ontario passed legislative amendments to improve the ability of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to collect family support and Crown debts. Ontario is committed to continuing to ensure that debts to family dependants and to the Crown are collected efficiently and effectively through the coordinated efforts of the Ministry of Revenue, program ministries and the CRA.
The Tax Collection Agreement (TCA) is subject to a mandatory review every six years. Ontario will work with the federal government to facilitate the review of the TCA in 2011, to ensure consistency with current needs, best practices, new technology and the evolving nature of the federal–provincial partnership.
The government is committed to ensuring that it collects tax debts owed to the Province and that it receives tax revenues on a timely basis.
To enhance the effectiveness of Retail Sales Tax Act (RSTA) clearance certificates that are required for sales under the Bulk Sales Act, amendments will be proposed to the RSTA to allow the Minister to withhold the issuance of a clearance certificate until tax debts under the following statutes are paid or secured: the Alcohol and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996; Fuel Tax Act; Gasoline Tax Act; Race Tracks Tax Act; and Tobacco Tax Act.
These amendments would generally apply to bulk sales completed on or after July 1, 2011. However, bulk sales under written agreements entered into on or before March 29, 2011 would not be subject to the amendments, even if the bulk sale is completed on or after July 1, 2011. These proposed amendments would be made to the RSTA with effect until June 30, 2013 and, pending a review, would be included in successor legislation for the period on or after June 30, 2013.
In addition, amendments will be proposed to various provincial tax statutes to:
To complement the marketing initiatives of the Ontario Wine Strategy and Ontario Craft Brewers Strategy, the government proposes to amend Part II, Beer and Wine Taxes of the Alcohol and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996 to introduce an annual exemption of up to 10,000 litres of wine, wine coolers or beer distributed without charge. The proposed exemption would be retroactive to July 1, 2010, pro-rated based on the manufacturers’ sales year. Beer distributed without charge would not qualify for the small beer manufacturers’ tax credit under the Taxation Act, 2007. Promotional distribution of beer and wine by Ontario manufacturers helps increase awareness of Ontario products and encourages tourism.
The Ontario Book Publishing Tax Credit is a 30 per cent refundable tax credit available to Ontario book publishing corporations for qualifying expenditures related to publishing and promoting a book by a Canadian author in an eligible category of writing. Eligible categories of writing are adult or children’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry or biography.
For expenditures incurred after March 29, 2011, the Budget proposes to change the 12-month period for qualifying marketing expenditures to a period beginning one year before and ending one year after the date of publication.
To help low-income working families with young children, the government proposes to consolidate Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families (OCCS) payments with Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) payments on a per-child basis. If a family’s OCCS entitlement with respect to a child is higher than its OCB payment for that child, the family would receive the extra OCCS benefit. This means that all families would keep the extra OCCS benefit for each eligible child under age seven.
Ontario mine operators are generally subject to a tax on mining profits under the Mining Tax Act. Amendments to the Mining Tax Act will be proposed to allow mine operators who are reporting in a functional currency under the Income Tax Act (Canada) to elect to file their Ontario mining tax returns in the same functional currency. This election would apply until such time as the mine operator revokes its functional currency election under the Income Tax Act (Canada) or ceases to meet the conditions for functional currency reporting under either the Income Tax Act (Canada) or the Mining Tax Act.
As a result of these amendments, mine operators who follow functional currency for CIT purposes would no longer have to prepare a separate set of Canadian-dollar financial statements solely for the purposes of filing the Ontario mining tax return. The amendments would be based on the functional currency rules in the Income Tax Act (Canada) and would apply for taxation years beginning after December 31, 2010.
The government is proposing amendments to the following legislation:
The Province will exceed the five per cent target for the reduction of the number of classified agencies. A number of agencies that have overlapping functions or whose functions could either cease to exist or be performed more efficiently by other means would be eliminated or merged.
In addition, where required, the government will propose legislative and regulatory amendments in connection with merging or dissolving the following agencies:
To improve administrative effectiveness and enforcement, and maintain the integrity and equity of Ontario’s tax and revenue collection system, as well as enhance legislative clarity and regulatory flexibility to preserve policy intent, amendments will be proposed to various tax statutes and other technical amendments are proposed to various other statutes, including amendments to the following:
Ontario is undertaking major reforms to modernize its pension policy framework and is playing a leading role in national discussions on improving the retirement income system.
Until these changes, Ontario’s pension legislation had not seen significant reform in decades, and there had been little discussion of the retirement income system as a whole at the national level. The government has responded to this lack of reform, and the impact of the recession on pension plans and plan members, with short- and long-term initiatives designed to improve retirement income security for Ontarians.
This comprehensive approach includes:
In 2010, the Ontario legislature unanimously approved two bills that together mark the most significant reform of the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) in more than 20 years. Both bills reflect broad input from Ontarians and recommendations of the Expert Commission on Pensions.
The Pension Benefits Amendment Act, 2010 received Royal Assent on May 18, 2010 and the Securing Pension Benefits Now and for the Future Act, 2010 received Royal Assent on December 8, 2010. Key reforms include:
Regulatory amendments will be required to implement many of these new provisions. Regulations emerging from the reform process will be posted on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry for review by stakeholders.
The Expert Commission on Pensions made a number of wide-ranging recommendations. Most of these are already being addressed, but the Commission also made suggestions about regulatory institutions and target benefit plans that remain under consideration.
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) regulates Ontario-registered pension plans. Steps have been taken in recent years to improve FSCO’s regulatory capacity, including additional funding and legislative amendments that will enable the regulator, in specified circumstances, to take proactive action to protect pension plan beneficiaries.
The Expert Commission noted that an opportunity exists to further improve and modernize FSCO so it would be more responsive to the needs of its stakeholders and better able to monitor the plans it regulates. FSCO has made important changes such as improving stakeholder outreach and enhancing its risk-based, proactive approach to regulation. The government acknowledges these changes but continues to welcome feedback from stakeholders regarding regulatory institutions and how they could be improved to ensure efficient and effective operation.
For example, Ontario pension legislation permits partial “unlocking” of locked-in accounts for Ontarians facing financial hardship. To support FSCO’s efforts to improve and modernize its processes, the government will review the administration of financial-hardship unlocking. During this review, the government will extend the current application fee waiver to provide continued support to those facing financial hardship as the economy recovers.
The Expert Commission also endorsed the idea of a new type of pension plan: the jointly governed target benefit plan. This type of plan would clearly acknowledge that target pension promises involve risk, and attempt to mitigate that risk through joint governance.
Consistent with the Expert Commission’s recommendation, the government proposed in 2010 that target benefit multi-employer pension plans (MEPPs) that meet certain criteria — including an ability to reduce accrued benefits under the terms of the plan — would be exempted from solvency funding requirements. The PBA has recently been amended to provide for target benefits.
Changes to federal tax rules are needed to facilitate the introduction of single-employer target benefit plans. Ontario is currently discussing these changes with Finance Canada and other interested stakeholders.
The government also remains committed to:
In addition, the government proposes to:
Negative investment returns in 2008 and persistently low long-term interest rates are making it very challenging to fund many defined benefit pension plans. Although equity markets recovered somewhat in 2009 and 2010, significant losses remain.
The government responded in 2009 with a temporary solvency funding relief program designed to protect Ontario jobs. In 2010, Ontario announced its intention to provide a permanent solvency funding exemption for certain JSPPs and MEPPs that meet specified criteria. In addition, the government is moving forward to clarify and strengthen rules regarding contribution holidays and benefit improvements to improve plan funding.
The PBGF provides significant assistance to pension plan members when their plans are wound up and plan assets are insufficient to cover promised benefits. In light of the recent financial difficulties the PBGF has faced, in 2010 the government provided a $500 million grant to stabilize the PBGF in the near term.
The first actuarial projection study of PBGF premiums and benefits was completed in early 2010, confirming that changes were required to make it more sustainable.
Given the assistance that the PBGF provides to plan beneficiaries, the government, on August 24, 2010, announced a four-part strategy to mitigate risks and enhance the sustainability of the PBGF:
The government is committed to fully implementing this strategy as it moves forward with pension reform.
Pensioners affected by the bankruptcy of Nortel and the termination of the Nortel plans have asked the government to provide them with additional choice for receiving their benefits. Acknowledging their request, the government is moving forward with a solution that respects pensioner choice, coupled with appropriate information and disclosure.
Amendments to the PBA are proposed that would allow Nortel pensioners to opt out of the current wind-up process and transfer the lump-sum value of their pensions to a life income fund (LIF), consistent with what is currently available to plan members who are not yet in receipt of a pension.
Those who choose to transfer their pensions to a LIF will be able to select their own investment strategy, subject to the limits on eligible investments under the federal Income Tax Act.
Helping AbitibiBowater restructure and return to financial viability protects pensioners, jobs and communities in Ontario and across Canada. The Ontario government therefore has agreed to join the Quebec government in providing restructuring support to the company. The pension funding relief being provided to the AbitibiBowater plans in Ontario is consistent with the funding relief measures agreed to by Quebec.
This pension restructuring was critical to the company’s broader restructuring and allowed AbitibiBowater to emerge from bankruptcy protection in December 2010 as a stronger company. The proposed funding relief would provide AbitibiBowater with a 10-year transition period to return to the full funding requirements that apply under the PBA.
Canadians are concerned about their ability to secure a steady and predictable income in their retirement years.
While the existing system is sound, recent research indicates that many future retirees could have inadequate retirement incomes due to such factors as growing longevity, lower personal savings rates and decreasing employment pension plan coverage. The trend towards lower earnings replacement for future retirees has been documented by various researchers, including Jonathan R. Kesselman, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Public Finance at Simon Fraser University; Bob Baldwin, pension policy expert; and Jack Mintz, Palmer Chair in Public Policy at the University of Calgary.
In October 2010, Ontario released the discussion paper “Securing Our Retirement Future: Consulting with Ontarians on Canada’s Retirement Income System,” which outlined the strengths and weaknesses in the current system, and measures that might be taken to improve it. In the paper, Ontario proposed a two-track approach to strengthening the system: a modest, phased-in and fully funded enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and pension innovation.
Ontario has made significant progress in strengthening the retirement income system, but more remains to be done. The CPP provides a secure, fully indexed, defined benefit pension to virtually all working Canadians and it is fully portable across Canada. Because of these unique attributes, Ontario remains committed to a modest, phased-in and fully funded expansion of the CPP.
Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Finance met in December 2010 to continue their ongoing discussion of these important issues. A decision regarding the modest enhancement to the CPP was deferred until the summer of 2011, when ministers will review specific options.
Together with a modest expansion of the CPP, the government supports the creation of innovative pension options as an effective approach to help Ontarians save adequately for their retirement. It believes that both these complementary measures must be implemented to ensure that retirement savings are adequate for all Canadians.
The federal government released a framework for an innovative pension option, the Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP), in December 2010. A PRPP has the potential to expand retirement plan coverage, particularly to small business employees and the self-employed. To be successful, it is critical that this plan provide a low-cost option that is simple for smaller employers and the self-employed to access. It is also critical that plan members’ interests be appropriately protected.
Ontario will continue to work closely with other provinces and territories and the federal government to design implementation details based on this framework. Joint federal, provincial and territorial stakeholder consultations are currently underway and will inform upcoming policy development and discussions.
In addition, Ontario is exploring the feasibility, design and implementation of jointly governed, single-employer target benefit plans with interested stakeholders, including Finance Canada.
The government remains committed to ongoing reforms that will modernize Ontario’s employment pension standards. It is also committed to working with its partners in other jurisdictions on national initiatives that will expand coverage, promote innovation and enhance retirement savings opportunities for all Ontarians.
1 Michael Smart, “The Impact of Sales Tax Reform on Ontario Consumers: A First Look at the Evidence,” University of Calgary, School of Public Policy, March 2011.
2 The statutory income tax rate is the rate set out in legislation and applies to taxable income.
3 Jack M. Mintz, “Ontario’s Bold Move to Create Jobs and Growth,” University of Calgary, School of Public Policy, November 2009.