Retired Professor of Actuarial Science at University of Waterloo, Past President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, expert advisor EvidenceNetwork.ca
Rob Brown was Professor of Actuarial Science at the University ofWaterloo for 39 years and a past President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. He is currently an expert advisor with EvidenceNetwork.ca, a comprehensive and non-partisan online resource designed to help journalists covering health policy issues in Canada.
Many employee benefit policies in Canada are null and void past age 65, regardless of a person's employment status. That's because many employer plans still use age 65 as a criterion for ending insurance contracts instead of basing coverage on active versus retired status. It's time for governments to protect employee health benefits for our aging workers.
The Fraser Institute has argued recently that the federal government has failed to make a convincing case for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) expansion. But their viewpoint depends heavily on trying to determine how much income Canadians need to retire with dignity. So, do we really need an expanded CPP?
Private health-care costs in Canada have grown dramatically over the last 40 years. Adjusting for population growth and inflation, private healthcare costs have increased by over 220 percent on average since 1975 -- or around $1,800 per person. That's no small figure for most Canadian families.
The new CPP may also bring some surprising consequences. Some will be good. Obviously for a worker with no pension or a very weak pension, that person now gets a new tier of (modest) benefits. But there are remaining concerns.
Pension reform continues to hold interest across the country, especially given the willingness of the federal Conservatives to at least talk about expanding the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Pundits and politicos are weighing in now with blunt talk of "voluntary" or "mandatory" enhancements to CPP. Neither may be exactly what Canadians want. Here's why.
First, assuming that the baby boom is a post-war phenomenon means we jump to the wrong conclusion when guessing the cause. The baby boom was not the result of frisky soldiers returning to Canada. It was, instead, the result of the very good economic times in the period 1952 to 1965 allowing for at-home moms and large families.
In a speech in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, Kevin Sorensen, Minister of State for Finance, introduced details of a new "hybrid" pension plan proposed for all federal workers and other corporations under federal pension regulation. He referred to these proposed plans as Target Benefit Pension Plans.
Now, in Australia, you get a lump sum pay-out (hardly any Aussies annuitize their lump sum). Once again, you have to manage your retirement on your own. Now, even if you knew exactly when you were going to die, this would be difficult, but when you have no idea of your personal life expectancy, this is a problem beyond the capabilities of the average Canadian.
Ontario is proposing a change to the Ontario Human Rights Code aimed at protecting people's genetic information from being used by insurance companies and employers. The proposed privacy regulations sound like a positive move for society -- a policy slam dunk. But, one can expect the insurance industry to oppose such legislation with some fairly logical and fundamental arguments.