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The last time the ministers got together a year ago, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty angered many of his provincial counterparts by announcing he was unilaterally imposing cuts on future health transfers.

This time the finance minister says he is making no substantial changes to any of the federal programs, although some disgruntled provinces are likely to ask for a better shake.

The most contentious issue will likely be pension reform — the key topic two years back — with Ontario again pushing for an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan.

On Sunday, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Ottawa should move again on CPP reform even without unanimity — something Flaherty has said he wants before progressing on the issue.

Duncan said he believed there was enough support from two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the population to expand CPP.

On Friday, Flaherty told reporters the economy should be the top priority and that it is too weak to contemplate boosting CPP benefits at this time because employers would have to pay higher premiums.

Federal legislation for the so-called Registered Pooled Pension Plan concept was officially enacted Friday, but it still requires the provinces to put it into practice.

A spokesperson for Duncan said Ontario will not implement the pooled plans unless there is also “enhancement” of the CPP.

New Democrats and the Canadian Labour Congress have proposed doubling what CPP would pay out over a seven-year period to $1,868 a month.

Flaherty said he would not act unless the decision is unanimous, even though technically he only needs two-thirds of provinces representing two-thirds of Canada’s population to be on side.


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Finance ministers meet to talk about pension reform, but likely not implement - thestar.com