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BC finance minister positive about federal pension change

British Columbia Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said he supports the pension plan option the federal government introduced yesterday.

"My initial response is positive that they've responded to a real need out there in providing pension opportunities for small business people and those that don't have access to their own private pension plans," said Falcon.

There has been much discussion over the past four years about whether to create a new defined contribution pension plan like the government is going forward with, or to expand the Canadian Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan.

"I do think the federal government is moving in this direction and not as interested in the CPP option," said Falcon. He said he's keeping an open mind on the proposal while he waits to see the details. "For it to be successful you have to have enough participation to keep the costs low enough that the thing works."

Critics have suggested a voluntary plan is unlikely to be effective considering many Canadians already have unused contribution room in their RRSP and Tax Free Savings Accounts.

"The preferred option that I support are improvements to the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan," said NDP Finance Critic Bruce Ralston. Its advantages include that it covers most people and Canadians take it with them when they move provinces or change jobs.

The B.C. government had previously favoured improving the CPP, he said. "That doesn't seem to be the government's position anymore."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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