Wynne to push ahead with pension plan with or without Ottawa

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QUEBEC — Premier Kathleen Wynne says bringing in the pension plan she wants for Ontarians would be easier with the co-operation of the federal government.

Asked on Friday whether making the idea happen would be simpler if Ontario collected its own income taxes, she replied, “What would be the most beneficial for us, given the configuration of our relationship with (Ottawa), would be to have a federal government who works with us, as it has worked with Saskatchewan, as it has worked with Quebec.”

Quebec is the only province that collects its own personal income tax, while Canadians in other provinces file a federal return.

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Wynne was speaking after a joint meeting in Quebec City between her cabinet and Premier Philippe Couillard’s.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has come out strongly against Wynne’s proposal, saying recently on the federal campaign trail he would fight it.

Harper calls Wynne’s Ontario Retirement Pension Plan idea “an enormous tax hike,” he says would hurt the province’s economy and force companies to lay off workers and reduce hours.

Wynne says Ontario workers are not sufficiently covered by the federal Canada Pension Plan and that her proposal will help ensure people have enough savings when they retire.

The new pension plan will force companies to pay premiums of 1.9 per cent for each employee, up to $1,643 a year, with workers paying an equal amount.

Wynne said Friday that despite Harper’s intransigence on the issue, she is moving ahead.

“It is a very important part of our platform,” she said. “It’s what we know is needed for the people of Ontario…We will implement the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan whether we have the co-operation of the federal government or not.”

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