Pensions and Canada Job Grant top of agenda for premiers' meeting in Toronto

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Pensions and Canada Job Grant top of agenda for premiers' meeting in Toronto

TORONTO - Canada's provincial and territorial premiers will be discussing pensions and the federal job grant program when they meet in Toronto today.

Host Premier Kathleen Wynne's top priority for the meeting is reforming the Canada Pension Plan, warning there will be a huge financial crisis if action isn't taken now.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island also want CPP improvements, with PEI proposing to hike maximum CPP contributions to $4,681.20 a year from $2,356.20 and boosting maximum annual benefits to $23,400 from $12,150.

But Nova Scotia, Alberta and the federal government are worried a hike in premiums, which are split evenly between workers and employers, would be the same as increasing taxes on businesses and could kill jobs.

The provincial and territorial premiers also want more flexibility in the Canada Job Grant program, which they say would cost them $600 million to maintain their current programs as well as match the cost of the federal plan.

Saskatchewan's Brad Wall says he's "encouraged" federal Employment Minister Jason Kenny has shown some flexibility on the program, but the provinces still need Ottawa to agree to more changes.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says infrastructure and jobs for young people will be main topics of discussion with his colleagues, along with trying to persuade the federal Conservatives to change plans to cut transfer payments to the provinces.

The premiers will also discuss their request that Ottawa to set up a monitoring system to track trains carrying hazardous materials and to tighten insurance rules.

Quebec's Pauline Marois said such measures could have helped prevent the derailment that decimated Lac-Megantic last summer, killing 47 people.

B.C.'s Christy Clark said provinces have the right to be fully informed about what's moving through their jurisdictions.

Geographic location: Toronto, Prince Edward Island, Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Ottawa Nova Scotia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Quebec Lac-Megantic

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