Retirement: Quebec would abandon the idea of ​​raising the age of eligibility for a pension

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Retirement: Quebec would abandon the idea of ​​raising the age of eligibility for a pension

Eric Girard, Minister of Finance of Quebec, during a speech in the House on Thursday.

The government of François Legault would be inclined to give up raising the minimum age of 62 years to obtain retirement benefits from the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). This was suggested Thursday by the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, in an intervention in the National Assembly.

The Quebec Pension Plan belongs to all Quebecers . We do not intend to impose choices that people do not want, said Minister Girard. We will continue the analyzes, complete the reading of all the memoirs in detail, he added. The decision will be made on the day the next budget is tabled, March 21, he said.

During his speech in the House, Mr. Girard explained that this measure did not achieve consensus during recent public consultations in the parliamentary committee, which take place every six years as required by the QPP law.

< p class="e-p">The extension of the age at which a person can access the early pension from 60 to 62 was the most controversial measure discussed, according to the Minister of Finance.

“I admit it myself, there were more people against, who came, than people for. […] This is a proposal that did not achieve consensus, but we have to ask the question. »

— Eric Girard, Minister of Finance of Quebec

Mr. Girard explains that life expectancy has increased in 40 years, from 76 years in 1984 to 83 years in 2023, and will be 85 years in 2030, according to estimates.

< p class="e-p">Among the arguments in favor of raising the minimum retirement age, the Minister mentioned that it [must] be recognized that in 2023 people are studying longer. So if you study longer, live longer, and work the same amount of time, your earning period relative to your lifetime, well, it's shorter and your ratio decreases.

On the opposite side, Mr. Girard said he saw an alliance between libertarians, supporters of individual freedoms who came to tell us: we have the right to make a financial decision that is suboptimal, it is a right. It looks a bit like the right to smoke.

The Minister of Finance, however, assured that, if such a proposal were adopted by the government, it would absolutely be necessary to take care of the 10% [. ..] that is to say people who have no choice, because of their precarious employment, […] to retire at 60.

Apart from the age of eligibility, two other measures seemed to have the support of a majority of participants in the consultations.

First, that of making QPP contributions optional for retirement pension recipients as of December 31 of the year of their 65th birthday, an election promise by the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ). This means that if you are already receiving your pension, that you have already activated your plan […] and that you return to work, you will not be asked to contribute. It's a liquidity measure, it gives you money immediately, Mr. Girard explained. This measure was greatly appreciated. I won't go so far as to say it was unanimous, but it was consensus.

The other well-received provision is that of modifying the rules for calculating the retirement pension in order to prevent the earnings from work of a person who applies for his pension after age 65 from reducing the average earnings used to calculate his pension. I think it's a great measure, said the minister.

Finally, Mr. Girard wanted to be reassuring about the state of the QPP. He said there were 4.2 million plan members and 2.2 million beneficiaries in Quebec. It is 17.7 billion [of dollars] which are collected in contributions and 16 billion which are paid in benefits. There are also 102 billion in reserves which are managed at the Caisse de depot et placement. […] We have a group plan that belongs to Quebecers who are healthy, he said.

The CEO of the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce, Charles Milliard, said he was disappointed to see that the government does not seem to be pursuing this reflection which is taking place in all countries at the moment with the aging of the population, the challenges of labor shortages, the inflation, economic contraction.

According to him, the debate was influenced by the situation in France, where the pension reform is hotly contested. Mr. Milliard recalls, however, that the system in Quebec is completely different from that of France.

“What is a pity , is that we have a consultation on retirement every six years, so, at least, we should set ourselves the objective of society to talk about this much more often. »

— Charles Milliard, of the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce

Same observation on the side of François Vincent, vice-president for Quebec of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, who calls on Minister Girard to take the time necessary to arrive at the right decision. We are asking the minister not to shove a proposal that would benefit 90% of those affected and which is also beneficial for businesses, he said. For us, the best decision is to raise [the minimum age] to 62.

At the other end of the spectrum, several civil society organizations opposed this measure, including the Conseil du patronat (CPQ), which welcomed the decision of Minister Eric Girard following the consensus of the groups consulted in committee. We believe that free choice must be guaranteed for all, especially workers performing physical tasks, the CPQ said on Twitter.

With information from Marie-Josée Paquette-Comeau

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