Premier Kathleen Wynne is defending almost $600,000 spent on Ontario Retirement Pension Plan ads during last year’s federal election as a coincidence.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said Monday that the spending on government advertising was thinly veiled electioneering on behalf of the federal Liberals and Justin Trudeau, who also raised the pension issue.
“The timing of the Wynne government’s ORPP ad campaign was obviously timed to coincide with the federal election and to achieve the election of the premier’s preferred candidate, at taxpayer expense,” said federation spokeswoman Christine Van Geyn.
Wynne said the province was not expecting the October election to be called on the August long weekend, setting the stage for an 11-week campaign, when it booked the advertising buy.
“We had no idea that the federal election was going to be called as early as it was . . . . There was no intentional timing decision there,” Wynne told reporters at an east-end adult learning centre.
“In terms of letting people that the Ontario retirement Pension Plan is going to be in place, it’s a big piece of our government’s plan and so we are going to, as a government, let people know,” she added.
“They will hear more about it in the future.”
Van Geyn said the spending totalled $592,834 and should be reimbursed by the Ontario Liberal Party.
Several business groups argue the pension plan, which takes effect next January with premiums paid by workers and matched by employers, amounts to a tax that workers and businesses cannot afford.
Wynne has argued that two-thirds of Ontarians do not have pension plans at work, making the ORPP necessary to help them build a source of retirement income so they can avoid having to live in poverty.