FREDERICTON - The national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees says Canada Pension Plan benefits should be doubled in an effort to help Canadians who don't have a workplace pension plan.
Paul Moist said the CPP needs to be improved.
"Sixty-five per cent of the workforce has no pension plan and CPP expansion is the most viable alternative," Moist said in an interview.
Moist, who is attending a pension summit in Fredericton, said the CPP is a good plan but it only replaces 25 per cent of a worker's income, so contributions should be increased.
Moist said the pension plan should be treated the same as health care.
"We should all have to pay — no choice. Employers should have to contribute and we prepare ourselves for retirement where we're not a burden on one another."
Under the plan proposed by Moist, CPP contributions would increase by 0.43 per cent of pensionable earnings each year for seven years.
But Ted Menzies, the federal minister of state for finance, said increasing CPP contributions would require the support of a majority of the provinces and that's not the case right now.
"Just recently we reviewed it with those finance ministers and it's in good shape, but there was no consensus among those provinces, territories and the federal government to make any changes as an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan," said Menzies.
He said the government must be careful not to do anything that could hurt the integrity of the pension plan.
Menzies said increasing CPP contributions would be particularly hard on self-employed individuals who pay both the employer and employee contribution. He is encouraging the provinces to move ahead with legislation that allows for registered pooled pension plans.
That's a voluntary system that allows workers to contribute but doesn't require employers to chip in.
The federal government has passed legislation for the registered pooled pension plan concept.
Moist said the federal plan would be a failure from the start.
"The so-called pooled retirement pension plan is not compulsory for employers, they don't have to put a nickel in, and employees can opt out," Moist said. "It can't work and it won't work."
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said CUPE's president was calling for contributions to the Canada Pension Plan to be doubled.