Theresa Oswald said if she is chosen as NDP leader and premier, she would work on developing a provincial pension plan that would be paid for through contributions from employees and employers.
If she is chosen as NDP leader and premier, she would work on developing a provincial pension plan — similar to one being proposed in Ontario — that would be paid for through contributions from employees and employers.
"After a lifetime of working hard, Manitobans deserve to have a secure retirement with a strong pension," she said in a news release. "Helping people save for their retirement will make it easier for people to retire with dignity. It will also help our economy and save taxpayers money in the long-term."
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She said details of a provincial pension plan, such as the exact amount to be paid and the levels of benefits, would be worked out after consulting business and labour groups.
Oswald criticized the federal government for not increasing funding to the Canada Pension Plan and said a made-in-Manitoba solution is needed to ensure seniors don't live in poverty. More than half of Manitobans don't have a company pension plan, she added.
Ontario's Liberal government introduced a bill last month to create its own provincial pension plan. If approved, the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan would be introduced in 2017 and require workers and employers to each pay up to $1,600 annually per person.
But similarly to Ontario, business groups were critical of the proposal, calling the proposal a job-killing payroll tax that will result in higher unemployment and lower wages.
"When you're saying to employers that you shall put in place a mandatory pension plan with employees, that's an additional cost. And anytime you have an additional cost to business, that makes us more uncompetitive," said Chuck Davidson, president and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to the CBC.
But Oswald disagreed, pointing out early reactions to the Canada Pension Plan were similar.
"When CPP was introduced those many years ago, the precise same arguments came forward about, 'This is going to be a business killer, it's a tax.' And in fact, the economy did very well in the years following its introduction," she said to the CBC.
One of three people running to lead Manitoba’s governing New Democrats wants to create a mandatory pension plan similar to the ORPP.