Hunter pumped to tackle – New Ontario pension plan
By Gerald V. Paul
Queen’s Park – “Government must be a force for good in people’s lives” newly minted Associate Minister of Finance Mitzie Hunter said Tuesday as she firmly took responsibility for creating the Ontario Retirement Pension Fund Plan.
The Scarborough-Guildwood MPP, an MBA from Rotman School of Management, grew up in Scarborough after her family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1975.
A lifelong city builder, she is passionate about unlocking Toronto’s potential by ensuring fair and inclusive access to transit, employment, and prosperity. As CEO of the Greater Toronto Alliance, Hunter worked to solve some of the toughest social, economic and environmental challenges.
She echoed re-elected Premier Kathleen Wynne’s vision:” All the pieces of our plan will provide the tools for Ontario to become a global economic leader. Together, we will build Ontario up. We will do it with integrity. We will do it transparently. And we will get results.
“I entered public service because I believe that government must be a force for good in people’s lives,” said Hunter, a person of faith who lists Bishop T.D. Jakes as among her favourite writers.
Wynne, Ontario’s first elected female premier, has eight women at the cabinet table. “I am grateful for the trust the people of this province have placed in our government.”
Following the swearing-in ceremony and the cabinet ministers’ first official meeting Tuesday, Hunter and Charles Sousa, who returned as
Minister of Finance, met with the media.
Sousa said his primary focus will be balancing the budget by 2017-18 and, with Hunter, ensuring Ontarians can retire in comfort and dignity.
They will be faced with a federal government that is strongly against the Ontario plan.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet ministers have called the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan a showpiece of the Liberal’s re-election platform and a tax, claiming it would hurt the economy because workers and employers would be forced to contribute.
“It’s not the time, in my opinion, to impose this type of tax when the Ontario economy is so fragile,” Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver has said. Small business representatives have also expressed opposition.
Hunter’s mission is to communicate how Ontario’s Retirement Pension Plan would work. The made-in-Ontario Plan will help supplement the retirement income of seniors, among other benefits.
Workers would kick in 1.9 percent of their annual income to a maximum income of $90,000 a year, a contribution employers would match. This would create a pool of about $ 3.5 billion, according to government estimates. This will be invested by a board operating at arms-length from the Ontario government.
The program will be mandatory except for the self-employed and those already enrolled in workplace plans.
The Liberals believe the Canada Pension Plan falls short in meeting the retirement needs of many Ontarians, particularly middle-income earners. According to the Liberals, if it’s not fixed, many seniors will face a reduced standard of living in their retirement years.
The Legislature resumes July 2, with a speech from the Throne outlining the Liberals’ agenda.