© Copyright 2006 Rogers Publishing Ltd. The following article first appeared in the February 2006 edition of BENEFITS CANADA magazine.
Minority rules
The election may be over but Stephen Harper will still have to seek support from his opponents on pension and benefits issues.
By Joel Kranc

Last month, Canada elected a Conservative government for the first time in about 12 years and its first Western prime minister in a quarter of a century. But Canadians are a cautious lot and gave Stephen Harper a slim minority government to test his ability. What can the pension and benefits industry and working Canadians expect from the new government? Will wait times, benefits and private healthcare be under the microscope? In order for Canadian plan sponsors to better understand where the new prime minister, and his opponents, stand on these essential issues, we need not look further than the policy statements and responses given by the candidates over the course of the election campaign.

A new plan called the Registered Lifetime Savings Plan(RLSP) would allow Canadians to contribute up to $5,000 per year to save for retirement. Unlike the Registered Retirement Savings Plan(RRSP), investors would pay the taxes upfront, not when the money is withdrawn.
From Conservative Party Platform

A plan would be created to increase the amount of pension income that can be sheltered from income tax from $1,000 to $2,000 and increase to $2,500 over five years.
From Conservative Party Platform

“There will be no private, parallel system.” The Conservatives’ healthcare plan, as outlined in their platform, would allow patients to go to other provinces for services their own province couldn’t provide within the time limits.
This, Harper said, is “the only way that government can preserve the principles of the Canada Health Act and respect requirements of the Charter of Rights.”
From Dec. 2005 Winnipeg Campaign Rally

“While economic performance has been better than expected, the truth of the matter is we are still generally slipping behind our major competitors. It’s also the case that in spite of improved financial performance, the financial position of the average Canadian family is not improved.”
Speaking to Rogers Media

“I assure you we are not going to apply new taxes on income trusts or in any way reduce the attractiveness of the income trust vehicle.”
Speaking to Benefits Canada

A new Conservative government will create 125,000 new child care spaces over five years; provide $10,000 in assistance to employers, including businesses and non-profit institutions, for each new child care space created; help employers create child care spaces in the workplace by allocating $250 million a year to employers who cover the full cost of creating spaces.
From Conservative Party Platform

Where the political parties stand on the issue of healthcare.


Fifty million dollars for Canada Health Infoway would be allocated to accelerate the development of wait list management technology such as registries, booking systems and electronic health records. And a new Canadian Mental Health Commission would be established to help the one in five Canadians who face challenges related to mental health.
From Liberal Party Platform


We will make stable, long-term federal transfers for healthcare contingent on a commitment from provinces and territories that no federal money, directly or indirectly, will be used to subsidize a new, separate, profit-making private insurance system covering medically necessary services.
From NDP Policy Platform


[Healthcare] is a Quebec jurisdiction, and a main problem is the fact that the federal government cut the payment transfers for health since 1994…just consider that in Ottawa, in the health department, there are 10,000 civil servants, and they’re not managing a single hospital.
Gilles Duceppe, English Language Debate

By Joel Kranc