Will Quebec lead the way?

Canadians are not saving enough for retirement, and our population is aging.

That is the worrisome context in which federal and provincial finance ministers sit down in June to resume their assessment of how to overhaul Canada’s retirement income system. They must grapple with whether to expand the Canada Pension Plan and its independent cousin in Quebec, the Quebec Pension Plan, or focus on more targeted and voluntary options to increase saving.

In April, a committee of experts mandated by the Quebec government issued a report that may become a landmark in the pension debate. They took account of demographic changes that see Quebecers living, on average, almost a decade longer than when the Quebec Pension Plan was created in the 1960s. The D’Amours Report, named for its chairman Alban D’Amours (former president and CEO of Canada’s largest financial cooperative, the Desjardins Group), proposed, among other things, the creation of a mandatory ”longevity pension” aimed specifically at the risk we all face in living ever longer. This idea is a new addition to our pension debate.

Are there lessons in the D’Amours Report for the rest of Canada? Is Quebec’s proposal the right approach to securing our retirement? What are the prospects for expanding CPP? The answers matter to us all.