Boost immigration to pay for pensions: Conference Board

Voluntary supplement to CPP will also help workers save more for retirement

Increasing immigration could help solve Canada's pension problems, according to the Conference Board of Canada's chief economist.

Immigration policy needs to change to allow an additional 100,000 immigrants into the country per year to boost productivity and help pay for pensions, said Glen Hodgson as the Board's 2010 Summit on the Future of Pensions.

Currently, about 250,000 immigrants are allowed into the country every year.

In the coming years, the Canadian-born population alone won't provide enough new entrants to the workforce to replace retiring baby boomers who will be drawing pension benefits, predicted Hodgson.

With an aging population and lower birth rates, immigrants will be the only source of population growth in Canada by 2030, he said.

Immigration will help keep population growth stable about about one per cent per year and will be the dominant source of labour force growth, he added.

Governments need to boost productivity by developing an integrated immigration policy, investing in a more skilled workforce and encouraging older people to work longer, said Hodgson.

He would also like to see a voluntary supplement to the Canadian Pension Plan, with automatic enrolment for people without corporate pension plans, but with an opt out provision.

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