Strengthening Fairness and Funding in the Canada Pension Plan: Is Raising the Retirement Age an Option?
This paper seeks to contribute to a forward-looking debate on possible reform options for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). Even though it focuses on the CPP, most of its analysis applies to the QPP as well since the two programs are largely identical. This paper does not provide a broad survey of all possible reform options, but rather analyzes one vital option that has received insufficient attention in previous debates: raising the normal retirement age from 65 to 67 years. A discussion of this option is warranted not only because it could prevent future financing problems in Canada’s public pension insurance programs, but also because it could improve fairness across generations. The significant increase in life expectancy raises the question of whether the current retirement ages of 60 years, for earliest CPP and QPP benefits, and 65 years, for full benefits, are too low. Should future generations pay for the longevity increases of the current generation of workers, or should current workers share the costs by retiring at a later age? We conclude that raising the normal age from 65 to 67 years—and the earliest age from 60 to 62 years—is a financially effective, intergenerationally fair, and politically acceptable option for improving the CPP and for addressing the QPP’s problems. We suggest that the option of raising the retirement age needs to be discussed well before longevity increases or funding problems occur and that a broad consultation with stakeholders and citizens would be an essential part of a debate on raising the retirement age in Canada.
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