OUR VIEW: 2016 too late for MP pension reform

People will always complain about government budgets but the lack of MP pension reform in Jim Flaherty's 2012 budget is worth criticizing.

It’s not easy preparing a budget regardless if you’re a politician or a lay person and if you have any doubts about that, ask any member of Grand Forks city council.

In the case of municipal and federal government, you have many things and groups to take into consideration and you will likely be criticized about your decisions regardless – damned if you don’t and damned if you do.

The Canadian federal budget was released last week and as usual, there is debate as to whether it is good or bad.

From a local standpoint, merchants in Grand Forks and area will likely not be happy with the fact that Canadians will be able to spend more across the border as tax exemptions have increased – from $50 to $200 for trips of 24 to 48 hours and from $400 to $800 for two to seven day trips just to name a few.

While some were fretting about the raising of the ages for Old Age Security (OAS) earlier in the year, people who are 54 years old currently will not be affected – people under 50 will see the age raised to 67, however.

One area worth scrutinizing is pensions for MPs, which were untouched by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in this year’s budget.

The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation (CTF) has estimated that the ratio to which MPs contribute to the pension plan as opposed to the average Canadian is $1 per $23, what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander it seems.

Furthermore, while Canadians under 50 are expected to work longer before OAS, MPs can still hang ‘em up at age 55, after six years of service, says the CTF.

Flaherty and PM Stephen Harper have suggested that MP pension reform could be on the way and a Globe and Mail report suggests there could be an increase in 2013 – the report says the ratio could increase to 50-50 by the year 2016.

A noble thought but in the meantime the ratio continues to be disproportionate and there are no guarantees that if the Conservatives introduce the suggested reforms, they will take effect – the next federal election is scheduled for 2015 and whether the Harper government sees another four years remains to be seen. A lot can happen in four years.

MP pension reform must come sooner than later. If the Canadian public is expected to contribute its fair share to pension, so should politicians.

– Grand Forks Gazette

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