Concerns over retirement and pensions are ones that I hear often from groups and citizens in our region. This past week in the House of Commons our Government introduced new legislation with respect to Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPP's). While Canada's current retirement income system has been recognized around the world as a model that succeeds in helping to reduce poverty among Canadian seniors, there are still challenges that remain. In recent years, Government has introduced a range of new and expanded measures to continue to provide supports for retiring workers and seniors.
Recently, our latest budget also announced a new Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up benefit for Canada's most vulnerable seniors. More than 680,000 low income seniors are eligible for additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. In addition, our recent budgets have provided about $2.3 billion in additional annual targeted tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as pension income splitting, increases in the age credit amount, and a doubling of the maximum amount of income eligible for the pension income credit.
While progress has been made, we must also recognize that roughly 60% of Canadians do not have a workplace pension plan. Obviously these are not public sector workers but rather workers in the private sector. One of the major barriers in providing pension plans is the significant legal and administration costs that are very prohibitive for small business employers.This is where the new Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPPs) can be of assistance. PRPP's will allow many small business owners and their employees to have access to a large-scale, low-cost private pension plan. Professional administrators will ensure that funds are invested in the best interests of plan members and by pooling pension savings, PRPP's will create greater purchasing power.This can achieve lower prices than would otherwise be available and this can result in greater returns and ultimately more money for workers when they retire. The design of these plans will also be straightforward to allow for simple enrollment and management and looks to be largely harmonized from province to province to help lower administrative costs and simplify the process.
While PRPP's can potentially be of benefit to many workers in the small business sector, it is important to recognize that this new plan is one of many tools designed to help assist Canadians workers and their families. In our most recent budget, (Bill C-13), our Government has proposed the family caregiver tax credit, the children's arts tax credit, a tax credit for small businesses when they create jobs and making the gas tax fund permanent. While these are all programs that I have heard strong support for by citizens here in the riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, at the same time the passage of Bill C-13 has been delayed during prolonged debate in Parliament. Recently Government introduced time limits on specific debates such as Bill C-13 in order to see the budget passed and taxpayer's receiving some much needed tax relief in specific areas.To date there have been 100 different speeches in the debate on Bill C-13, each with a section for question and answers or comments, including my own. While some may disagree, I believe that Budget 2011 should be passed and implemented in 2011. It is also important to recognize that once a bill like C-13 is passed in the House of Commons it proceeds to the Senate for yet another level of debate and potential passage before receiving Royal assent.
It is my observation that there is plenty of opportunity for discussion, debate and disagreement in Ottawa. While we may continue to struggle with passing a budget bill within the same year it is intended, let it never be said that the people's house lacks passion for a better Canada.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan- Coquihalla and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.