A number of organizations say some employers and employees shouldn’t have to contribute to the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP).

Advocis president and CEO Greg Pollock said the definition of a “comparable” workplace pension plan must be changed. He made the comments on Monday before the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park, which is continuing to hold public hearings on the ORPP this week.

Currently, the province’s ORPP consultation paper says workers already participating in a DB or target-benefit multi-employer pension plan (MEPP) wouldn’t be required to participate in the new plan, while those in a DC plan would have to contribute to the ORPP because they’re not considered “comparable.”

Read: Businesses say ORPP will have negative economic effects

He said the definition of “comparable” should include DC plans.

“To do otherwise would lead to many of these plans being eliminated or reduced, resulting in the unintended consequences of less savings for this large group of Ontarians,” Pollock said.

He believes all DC plans with contribution levels of 3.8% or more should be considered comparable.

Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Don McCabe said employers with non-resident workers shouldn’t have to contribute to the ORPP.

Read: Business, labour groups divided over ORPP

He noted employer contributions would leave Ontario when the non-resident worker retires.

Derek Dobson, CEO of the Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology Pension Plan, said workplaces with a DB plan available immediately upon hire should exempt part-time employees from the ORPP.

He noted employees would be better served by joining a DB plan tailored to their needs and the reduction in part-time members would have a negative impact on existing plans.

The Progressive Contractors Association (PCA) said the government should reconsider its proposal to exempt all employers with DB plans from the ORPP, while not exempting DC plans that may meet all of the objectives of the ORPP.

“Simply put, not all DC plans should be painted with the same brush,” said Karen Renkema, the organization’s senior manager of public affairs.

She noted that 91% of PCA employers participate in the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) Pension Plan. The plan is a multi-employer, registered DC plan and contributions are subject to provincial locking-in rules.

Renkema also said many DB plans are currently underfunded, and may not be able to provide a reliable and predictable source of income.

She wants the government to set a minimum threshold that DC plans need to meet to be considered comparable to the ORPP.

Read: What DC plan sponsors need to know about the ORPP

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said the ORPP would be bad news for DC plans.

“If the ORPP is implemented, it could have the unintended consequences of employers clawing back their contribution to a private plan or it could result in employers cancelling those private plans altogether,” said Ontario director Christine Van Geyn.

She also noted the costs of the ORPP would hurt employers and “will negatively impact job creation.”

Labour groups reiterated their argument the ORPP should be mandatory for all workers.

“Without something that is universal, portable and a fully public pension plan, too many of our members would find themselves without the income replacement needed in retirement,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario.

The National Association of Federal Retirees also said the ORPP should be universal.

Read: 4 ways to make the ORPP work

“Rather than trying to determine what a comparable plan is, there should be no exceptions,” said Rosemary Pitfield, the organization’s director of advocacy and communications.

She said some DB plans can be poorly managed and a fewer number of companies continue to offer these plans.

Pitfield also dismissed worries that the ORPP would have negative economic consequences.

“We heard the same things when CPP was expanded the last time and that did not occur,” she said. “There are things that people will say in a way to keep change from occurring.”

Looking for related articles? Read more stories about the ORPP.

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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