Dear Editor,

In response to the letters published in Grey Bruce This Week from my colleague and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson and Minister Mitzie Hunter on the issue of the contentious Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), I would like to add that I am hearing unequivocal concerns from my constituents in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound about the timing and affordability of this mandatory pension plan.

We're not alone in telling Associate Minister of Finance Mitzie Hunter that the ORPP is the wrong approach at absolutely the wrong time for Ontarians. The ORPP is a job-killing payroll tax and this is a united message being delivered by businesses from the smallest member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) or the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, to Magna, Canadian Tire and Ford Motor Co.

All agree, with the exception of the Liberal government spin, that this is an unacceptable burden on our people. Conveniently, the government is ignoring its own recently released cost-benefit analysis that proves the provincial economy won't fully recover from the shock of the ORPP for 20 years.

Projections show that job losses will be in the tens of thousands, as Ministry of Finance documents we exposed two years ago had stated. Disposable income and private investment will decline, and household spending isn't forecast to recover until 2040.

CFIB (long form please) has estimated that the ORPP would kill over 40,000 jobs in Ontario in 2020 once the ORPP moves forward on Jan. 1 2017.

It will become difficult for any person making under $90,000 to actually save anything on their own outside of the ORPP. This is a lot of damage for a plan that won't even kick in for at least 40 years from today.

Furthermore, I am also hearing serious concerns about the fact that the ORPP will create big silos of bureaucrats who will receive a gold-plated pension for essentially duplicating the existing bureaucracy at the federal level. My constituents have told me that they don't support any such duplication because it's wasteful at a time when our people are going without the health care and education services they need and deserve. Furthermore, there are now also concerns that this duplication in Ontario may actually hinder the ability of the Federal government to enhance the CPP if the Liberals charge ahead with their own national plan.

In case you're wondering what the cost of all that duplication is, you can look at one example, which is Saad Rafi. He has just been hired by the Liberals at $525,000 a year to head up this ORPP (he also recently made over a million dollars overseeing the Pan Am Games and got in trouble for throwing around taxpayer money – like the decision to spend $140,000 on free haircuts, up-dos and manicures for Pan Am athletes – taxpayers need to be very concerned about what he has in store for the ORPP.) Rafi is one lucky guy, and there may be many more making gold-plated pensions at the ORPP fund, but I don't think the people in Bruce and Grey who are working shifts at the assembly line and in grocery stores support that kind of liberal grandiosity.

Neither do they support the idea of putting more money and trust into the Liberal government, which has doubled our provincial debt in 12 years. Who can trust them to be the steward of people's hard-earned life savings? Frankly, noting this government's track record, I certainly wouldn't trust them with my retirement money if given the choice. So, in response to the Associate Minister's letter in Grey Bruce This Week, I say this: there is big concern in regard to your government's ability to actually deliver on this plan.

And we're not alone in feeling apprehensive. The polls show most Ontarians disapprove of the proposed pay-roll tax.

So, is the Liberal government really going to disadvantage an entire generation of Ontarians with the ORPP with no guarantees this is a real solution? We are hearing the added cost to businesses in addition to escalating energy costs will simply be too much for many to bear. The Wynne government needs to hit the pause button on the ORPP for some sober second thought based on its own analysis. It needs to stop the spin and do what is best for Ontarians, which is to put pressure on the federal government to enhance the existing CPP, the exact message they were driving home with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Bill Walker, MPP
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound