In response to members calling on the CMA to create a national pension plan for physicians, the association retained Mercer, an independent pension expert, to examine the current retirement savings landscape in Canada.
In their report, Mercer provides an overview of the Canadian retirement income system, focusing on private employer-based pension plans and personal savings — including a review of defined benefit pension plans and capital accumulation plans.
While the Canadian system offers different options, the report outlines the challenges in implementing these for physicians. For example, in Canada, private pension plans are offered exclusively through employers: Canadian legislation requires these plans to be built around employer–employee relationships and employment income, and as such, they are not available to self-employed doctors.
As Mercer concludes in their report, the CMA does not have an employer–employee relationship with its members and therefore cannot create or contribute to a pension plan for physicians.
Recognizing these constraints, the CMA will advocate for legislative changes to help meet the needs of its members. In partnership with the provincial and territorial medical associations (PTMAs), the CMA will raise the need to:
- increase limits for tax-supported savings vehicles;
- increase savings opportunities for incorporated doctors; and
- explore how provincial and territorial governments can match physicians’ registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) contributions, an approach currently in place in British Columbia.
The CMA has a strong record on these issues. Its early lobbying work in the 1950s to support physicians’ retirement security led to the creation of RRSPs. The CMA built on this work in 2017, pushing back against the federal government’s proposed tax reforms for private corporations by highlighting the negative impact on physicians’ practices.
Moving forward, the CMA plans to work with the PTMAs to continue advocating for tax changes to help physicians achieve greater financial security.