Today, the Ontario Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, released a consultation paper “Securing our Retirement Future”. As reported in The Globe & Mail, the paper seeks input from Ontarians on the Ontario government’s proposals to improve the Canadian retirement income system at the macro level.

The government is advancing a three-pronged approach to the basic issues of pension plan coverage, adequacy and security. The first initiative is the reform of Ontario’s own private pension laws. In furtherance of this initiative, the government has passed one major reform bill (Bill 236) this year and recently introduced a second major set of reforms (Bill 120).

The other two initiatives are the ones announced in June after the last finance ministers’ meeting, namely, a modest expansion of the CPP and changes to the existing tax and pension system to permit pension innovation by the private sector. A major goal of this latter initiative is to expand the retirement savings options available to the self-employed and those who work for small businesses.

It is generally recognized however that the “devil is in the details”. The purpose of the consultation paper is to get input from Ontarians on how each of these options should be pursued. The paper asks, for example, what kind of “modest” CPP benefit enhancement would work best? How can governments make it easier and more affordable to save for retirement?

This paper is not just for “experts”. The questions it asks are the kinds of questions Canadian individuals and business people ask themselves:

  • How much income to do think you will need in retirement to maintain your standard of living?
  • Are you concerned about your ability to save?
  • What can be done to help reduce fees charged on investment funds?

This is an opportunity for both ordinary Ontarians and pension experts to provide input into the future of Canada’s retirement savings system.

The government hopes to use the feedback it receives through the consultation process in its discussions with the other provinces and the federal government. The deadline for providing feedback is November 29, 2010.