An important policy alert from CARP

Although this policy alert from CARP came out just prior to the October 10 Ontario election, the policy statement regarding locked-in funds is just as important in the wake of McGuinty’s majority:

CARP’S CAMPAIGN TO UNLOCK LOCKED-IN FUNDS IN ONTARIO:
100 PER CENT FOR 450,000 ONTARIANS
By Bill Gleberzon, Director of Government Relations

Bill Gleberzon,  Director of Government Relations

The primary objective of CARP’s campaign in conjunction with the Ontario Coalition of Independent Locked-In Fund Holders is to prompt the government elected on October 10th to unlock LIFs by 100 per cent in Ontario as was done in Saskatchewan in 2002.

Our proposal is to allow LIF holders to unlock 50per cent at age 55 and the balance (or total) at 65.

Locked-In Funds are the best kept pension secret in Canada – and the most misunderstood. Therefore, the second purpose in our campaign is to make the estimated over 450,000 Ontario LIF-holders, the general public and the media aware of what a LIF is, how it works and the obstacles that currently await Ontario LIF-holders when they want to access their pension money.

A precedent for unlocking LIFs 100 per cent was set in Ontario in 1999 when Bill 27 enabled 61 Ontario MPPs to unlock their Legislative pension by 100 per cent. Some of these 61 MPPs are running in the current campaign, including, according to CARP’s research, Mr. McGuinty, Mr. Sorbara, Mr. Bradley, Mr. Hampton and Mr. Runciman; the latter two have admitted publicly that they were among the recipients of this privilege. While Mr. McGuinty has indicated that he voted against Bill 27, he has never publicly admitted that he is one of the recipients of its largess.

We do not begrudge any of these 61 MPPs the right to unlock their LIFs by 100 per cent. But we do greatly begrudge them denying that right to all other Ontarians. For while they gave themselves carte blanche, they set up a paternalistic, bureaucratic process for all other Ontarians LIF or LRIF holders to access the capital in their own pensions—and only on the grounds of financial or health hardship. CARP estimates that between 2003 and 2006 the Ontario Government earned from $5.2 million to as high as $15.8 million in processing fees for allowing applicants to have access to their own money!

As a non-partisan association, CARP doesn’t recommend which party or person to vote for – our focus is on issues, not parties or personalities.

However, at this point in the election campaign the Conservatives have promised to unlock them 100 per cent.

The NDP introduced a Private Members Bill in December, 2006 to unlock them 100 per cent — although the Party has not followed up by including that proposal in their platform.

The Liberals’ new policy to unlock LIFs by 25 per cent will take effect in January 2008.

If the Liberals are re-elected, we urge them to do the democratic thing and unlock LIFs by 100 per cent. CARP regards their new policy as a first step in the journey to unlock LIFs for all Ontarians, not only a select few politicians – sooner rather than later.

If the Conservatives win the election, they must live up to their commitment to unlock LIFs by 100 per cent within 100 days of forming the government.

And, if the NDP are elected, we trust that they will implement the Private Member’s Bill introduced last December within 100 days of coming to power.


CARP is Canada’s Association For the Fifty-Plus. A non-profit, non-partisan association, CARP has 250,000 members in Ontario and 400,000 members across the country. Its mandate is to promote and protect the rights and quality of life of older Canadians. Its mission is to provide practical recommendations for the issues it raises.For more information/interviews, contact Michelle Taylor at 416-363-8748 ext. 236 or email m.taylor@50plus.com

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