07/30/2015 10:44 EDT | Updated 07/30/2015 11:59 EDT

Ontario Demands Federal Conservatives Co-Operate On Provincial Pension Plan

With a federal election call looming, Ontario is demanding the Conservative government drop its opposition to the creation of a provincial pension plan.

TORONTO — With a federal election call looming, Ontario's Liberal government is accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of abandoning workers in the province.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa came out swinging today against Ottawa's refusal to co-operate on the creation of a provincial pension plan for workers who don't have a workplace pension.

Sousa says Harper will get "tremendous" benefits from his "gold-plated pension," and calls it an insult for the Conservative government to try to block improvements to retirement incomes for two-thirds of Ontario workers.

He says it was "a cynical, partisan stunt, executed on the eve of a federal election campaign."

Finance Minister Joe Oliver wrote Sousa earlier this month warning Ottawa would not help implement a provincial pension plan in any way, calling it a job-killing payroll tax that will hurt the economy.

The Ontario pension plan would require contributions of up to $1,643 from employers and workers in any company that does not have a workplace pension.

Sousa says the federal government has a co-operative agreement with the Quebec Pension Plan and made legislative changes to the Income Tax Act to allow higher contributions to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, and Ontario just wants fair treatment.

He admits Ontario would face much greater costs to set up and administer its pension plan if it can't get the co-operation of the Canada Revenue Agency, but insists the province will go it alone if there is no change in federal government after Oct. 19.

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