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Employees, employers dinged by proposed pension

By MPP Toby Barrett

The Ontario government has been scurrying to add new taxes. The latest is a payroll tax to fund the proposed Ontario Registered Pension Plan (ORPP). Liberal messaging croons that “when we share a little, we gain a lot”, thus creating yet another phrase for tax.

The reality is the ORPP will be a mandatory pension plan that will see employees and employers pay matching payroll taxes of 1.9 per cent of the total salary of an employee to a general pool.

Employees will see less money in their pockets as they will be forced to pay the payroll tax of 1.9 per cent of their salary into the pension plan, meaning their take-home pay will decrease. This will impact their spending priorities such as paying off a student loan and paying down a mortgage, as well as discretionary spending.

Public hearings were held in late March about Bill 56, the legislation that will bring in the plan. Employers told committee members they saw the mandatory 1.9 per cent employer contribution as a payroll tax they could not afford. Many presenters said high electricity prices, increased WSIB rates, increased minimum wage and red tape all contributed to an increased cost of doing business. The ORPP will make Ontario less competitive and force some employers to reduce hours or cut staff.

Even Ministry of Finance documents estimate Ontario will lose 18,000 jobs with every $2 billion collected by the ORPP payroll tax. It seems hard to believe the government would introduce a payroll tax, disguised as a pension scheme, that would threaten jobs in Ontario, but that is the dangerous reality.

A new arm’s-length agency will administer the ORPP. We’ve seen other agencies of this government – ORNGE and College of Trades come to mind - severely erode the trust of the public.

As Official Opposition, we are asking the 2015 budget demonstrate a commitment to abandon any thoughts of an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan altogether. There hasn’t been a public cost-benefit analysis and there is no business plan to ensure it makes sense. The present government has floated an idea without a plan – they haven’t thought it through.

In Ontario, many employees participate in defined contribution pension plans, group RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts, as well as other retirement savings vehicles. Some defined contribution plans have higher rates than the ORPP will, which could cause employers to reduce contributions or abandon their existing plans altogether.

We, as Opposition, aren’t alone in our stance. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce publicly lambasted the government for its lack of evidence-based decision making, saying, “At a minimum, the Government of Ontario must conduct and publicly release an analysis of the impact of the new pension plan on foreign direct investment, job creation and Ontario’s competiveness.”

I question how the government can still be considering its plan. Logic says people are better off working and saving something towards their retirement than not earning anything. It’s impossible to save for retirement if you don’t have a job.

The ORPP is expected to collect $3.5 billion in annual contributions. The fact that many public-sector pensions currently have billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities does not instill confidence in those who would be paying into the fund.

ORPP could well be another boondoggle waiting to be implemented.

Newsroom

Liberals increase deficit for third straight year
QUEEN’S PARK – It might have been April Fool’s Day when Opposition Finance Critic Vic Fedeli asked some hard questions of the finance minister about the province’s books, but it was anything but a joke.
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Barrett to Ag Minister on neonics: “Why won’t you speak up for farmers?”
QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario’s agriculture minister was short on answers when pressed on the 80 per cent neonic ban on corn and soybean acreage that was recently announced.
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Barrett pays tribute to farmers during Farm Safety Week
QUEEN’S PARK – Toby Barrett, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP and Opposition Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, paid tribute to volunteers in the Norfolk Farm Safety Association in the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday.
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Adding livestock to crop insurance is good news: Barrett
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP and Opposition Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Toby Barrett supports government legislation to allow crop insurance to be expanded to cover livestock.
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Despite impressive gains, agricultural literacy remains a struggle
QUEEN’S PARK – “We have to train people not only to be able to walk into a combine and know how to turn a wrench, but they also need to know how to calibrate that computer.”
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Sudbury scandal: Premier asked to step aside if charges laid
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has asked Premier Wynne to step aside if charges are laid in connection with the Sudbury by-election scandal.
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Moody’s sounds another warning about Ontario finances
QUEEN’S PARK – Another voice has been added to the chorus calling on the Wynne government to change its financial direction.
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Barrett calls for re-striking the gas plant committee
QUEEN’S PARK – Re-strike the gas plant committee! That was the call from MPP Toby Barrett, fellow Opposition caucus members and members of the Third Party.
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Barrett fears consequences of policy on rural school closings
SIMCOE – In the wake of a new policy that will fast track the process of closing schools, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is asking the government to slow down and reevaluate the process.
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Dental benefits for low-income Ontarians needed sooner rather than later
Simcoe – Access to proper dental and oral health care improves lives and reduces costs on our health care system.
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Petition: Say no to new gas taxes
SIMCOE – In the wake of news regarding a new carbon tax, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has launched a petition calling on the government to ditch its idea of a new carbon tax or any other kind of gas tax.
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Comment period on bee health coming to a close
SIMCOE – Local MPP and Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Toby Barrett is reminding interested parties that the comment period regarding neonicotinoid insecticide is coming to a close January 25th.
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Cayuga bridge is about safety

Queen’s Park – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett advocates the Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Corrections to step in on the native-shutdown of the Cayuga bridge reconstruction..

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Barrett praises federal invasive species regulations

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett welcomed the new federal aquatic invasive species regulations.

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Auditor General takes government to task on spending, electricity

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario’s Auditor General confirmed Tuesday what Opposition MPPs have been saying about the province’s electricity pricing.

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PC Critics call for a rigorous scientific and consultative approach to neonics

LONDON – This morning, PC Critic for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Toby Barrett and PC Critic for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Lisa Thompson held a news conference outside the Pollinator Health meeting in London.

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Will government provide mortality insurance to assist beekeepers?

QUEEN'S PARK – MPP Toby Barrett, Opposition Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, questioned the Premier today regarding bee mortality insurance, and asked why Ontario has yet to implement a Manitoba style insurance program to help Ontario beekeepers.

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Two area companies honoured for ag innovation

SIMCOE – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett was beaming with pride when he heard two local companies were amongst those who received the Premier’s Award for Agri-Innovation Excellence.

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New production insurance changes needed and must address farmers’ concerns

QUEEN'S PARK– An expansion of production insurance to cover more agricultural commodities is long overdue.

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Barrett’s infectious disease bill receives all-party support
QUEEN’S PARK – Legislation designed to better enable Ontario to deal with emerging infectious diseases has passed second reading with all-party support. The bill has been referred to the Legislative Assembly Committee.

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Liberals’ unrealistic and unaffordable path continues
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is suggesting Ontario residents strap themselves in order to prepare for the next round of rocketing taxes.

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Burning Kiln again chosen by Legislature

QUEEN’S PARK – Dignitaries, politicians and perhaps royalty will be enjoying a glass of Burning Kiln 2013 Strip Room after the Norfolk red wine was chosen as the Ontario Legislature’s official red wine for 2015.

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Barrett bill to address infectious diseases

SIMCOE – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has introduced a bill that will address infectious diseases such as Lyme, West Nile and Ebola.

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When will we see local food in hospitals and schools?

QUEEN'S PARK – Ontario’s Agriculture Minister refuses to answer when the entire Local Food Act will be proclaimed.

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Barrett urges people to testify on insurance bill

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett agrees with committee hearings to allow more input on Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014 in the wake of second reading debate on the legislation Monday.

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Unemployment trend continues
SIMCOE - For 93 consecutive months Ontario’s unemployment has stood higher than the national average.

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Who’s looking out for us when it comes to infectious disease?

Simcoe – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is questioning how well Ontario is prepared to deal with emerging infectious disease.

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Farmers, food banks and the needy will now benefit from Local Food Act

QUEEN'S PARK – Good news today for farmers, food banks and the needy as one of the most important aspects of the Local Food Act is proclaimed.

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Ontario’s finances continue in wrong direction

SIMCOE – Ontario’s deficit continues to go up and up and up, according to the Ontario Government’s Public Accounts Office.

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Let’s work through U.S. Steel creditor protection one step at a time: Barrett
SIMCOE – “Our Opposition Caucus is concerned about the significant news that U.S. Steel Canada has applied for creditor protection,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett. “I have been in touch with the union, the company and the Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Employment, and Infrastructure. It is important all concerned work together for common cause.”

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Why isn’t the champion of local food serving up good news?

SIMCOE – Why are people so confused with the status of the Local Food Act?

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Uncertainty swirls with regard to Local Food Act
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Barrett calls for action on poverty
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Ontario loses almost 30,000 full time jobs in July

SIMCOE – Statistics Canada’s July jobs report shows Ontario lost 29,300 full time jobs last month.

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Hydro customers heavily subsidizing energy pensions

SIMCOE – Every day taxpayers are finding it increasingly difficult to save and invest, largely because they are paying for unaffordable energy costs and bloated energy agency pensions.

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New tax driving Ontario airline tickets sky high

QUEEN’S PARK –Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett believes the government’s new aviation tax could have a direct impact on the riding.

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New tax driving Ontario airline tickets sky high

QUEEN’S PARK –Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett believes the government’s new aviation tax could have a direct impact on the riding.

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Carr lauded in Ontario Legislature

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett paid tribute to Annaleise Carr’s Radical Crossing 2.0 in the Ontario Legislature earlier today.

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Barrett echoes concerns about hunting and fishing license money

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP wants to see more accountability from the Ministry of Natural Resources Special Purpose Account (SPA), especially in light of proposals to increase fees.

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Barrett renews call for gutting Asian carp imported into Ontario
QUEEN’S PARK – During Question Period, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett renewed his call for the province to require Asian carp entering Ontario first be gutted.

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Budget leading Ontario down an expensive garden path

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett believes the Ontario budget is not only leading the province down the wrong path, it’s taking it down the garden path.

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