RRSPs one of the last gasps of the Louis St Laurent government

by Dan Healing, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 13, 2017 8:00 am MDT Last Updated Feb 13, 2017 at 8:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email RRSPs one of the last gasps of the Louis St. Laurent government 60 years ago CALGARY – When Walter Harris rose in the House of Commons on March 14, 1957, the Liberal finance minister could not have known that the budget speech he was about to read would be one of the last gasps of the Louis St. Laurent government.The Liberals would be swept aside within months by John Diefenbaker and the Conservatives, but a program introduced in that budget, the registered retirement savings plan or RRSP, would live on.In his speech, Harris pointed out that employees who were fortunate enough to work for companies that contributed to pension plans didn’t have to pay tax on those contributions until they were withdrawn after retirement.“It is now proposed to introduce a general policy of allowing tax postponement on limited amounts of earned income set aside for retirement by any taxpayer, whether an employee or not,” he declared.He later added he was worried about the effect RRSPs would have on tax revenues, predicting widespread use could cost the government as much as $40 million per year.He needn’t have worried. Records are unclear for 1957, but the Canada Revenue Agency says taxpayers deducted only $19 million for RRSP contributions in 1958, versus $259 million deducted through company pension plans.But RRSPs have grown in the 60 years since their introduction.Statistics Canada reported just under six million people or about 23 per cent of tax filers contributed a total of some $38.6 billion to RRSPs in 2014.“When it was first introduced, from 1957 up to 1968, it was very, very restrictive,” said Curtis Davis, director of tax and estate planning at Mackenzie Investments in Toronto.“It was the responsibility of the taxpayer to track their own limit and make contributions. And if you didn’t use it, you lost it. There was no carry-forward at that time.”Canadian workers were allowed initially to contribute up to 10 per cent of the previous year’s income to a maximum of $2,500, with that limit reduced by contributions made through an employer pension plan. The 2017 limit is 18 per cent of the previous year’s income to a maximum of about $26,000.People were allowed to carry forward seven years worth of unused RRSP room starting in 1990. All carry-forward limits were removed in 1996.RRSPs were part of a post-war wave of initiatives designed to build the Canadian social safety net, says Elizabeth Shilton, a senior fellow at the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., who has written about the history of Canadian pension plans.“There was a lot of international pressure post-war for developed countries to build their welfare states … so (RRSPs) would have been viewed as a privatized form or a minimally interventionist form of providing that safety net,” said Stilton.“Tax incentives rather than public pensions at that point.”Old Age Security was introduced in 1952 and the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan came into being in 1966.Stilton said that while a majority of people did not have access to employer pension plans, RRSPs took a long time to catch on and, while contributions have increased over the years, “it’s never been a huge success.”“Programs that are built on tax deductions as an incentive, like the RRSP, are only of value to people who pay taxes, and they are of more value to people who pay taxes at a higher rate,” she said.Davis said RRSPs now compete with the tax-free savings account or TFSA introduced in 2009, which is attractive to investors because it is a much more flexible way to grow investments.Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter. read more

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Experts to make smart map of railway suicide hot spots

first_imgWe need to move away from thinking that fences are the be-all and end-allIan Stevens, head of the Suicide Prevention Programme Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Currently, most suicide research is dominated by psychologists, who attempt to explain the phenomenon at an individual level, or by sociologists, who strive for societal explanations.Network Rail’s new strategy, however, aims to profile communities near known high-risk locations and then actively look for other towns and villages that fit the model.Ian Stevens, who runs the organisation’s Suicide Prevention Programme, said: “We need to move away from thinking that fences are the be-all and end-all.“All the prevention measures we could possibly have are in place at these stations, but unfortunately people still come and take their own life.“We need to understand the communities around these spots.”In 2015-16, 252 people took their own lives, or were suspected of having done so, on the railway network. This was 35 fewer than the previous year.On average, each incident causes 2,000 minutes of train delays and drivers involved in suicides typically lose 29 working days as they recover.The team has been trialling its methods at two locations with a high rate of suicide.In December, its remit will be expanded to a further four or five, with a view to expanding further in the coming months.Dr Robin Pharoah, the lead anthropologist, said his first task in any given community was to encourage suicide survivors to re-live their experience to find out what features attracted them to the nearby railway.“We’re going in and looking for clues,” he said.“The only thing we know in advance is that we don’t know what it is that we will find interesting.”Mr Stevens said that the data accumulated by Network Rail, which is updated daily, meant that staff were sometimes identifying areas with a high risk of suicide before local authorities, health services or charities.“If local authorities don’t know there is a flow of people coming to the railway they cannot help,” he said. “We’re trying to help paint a picture.”center_img A team of anthropologists has been hired to try to prevent suicides at sensitive locations on the railways where disruptions can cause gridlock.Network Rail has recruited the academics to study the communities around 32 such places.The team will use on-the-ground investigative procedures to understand what it is about “cluster” locations that attracts suicide attempts, meaning preventative measures like fences and police patrols can be bolstered.Their data is also intended to help create a smart map similar to those used by consumer analysts to try to predict where future suicide attempts will come from.last_img read more

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