British Columbia and Quebec are expressing concerns about Ottawa's plans to expand the Canada Pension Plan, but neither province is going as far as Saskatchewan in directly opposing the idea.
Finance ministers from across the country arrived at 7 Rideau Gate in Ottawa Sunday evening for a dinner hosted by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
The discussions are scheduled to continue throughout the day Monday before they announce in the afternoon whether any agreement was reached on the pension issue.
The federal Liberal government was elected on a campaign to expand the CPP, but it is a promise that can't be delivered unilaterally.
Reforming the Canada Pension Plan requires the support of at least seven of the 10 provinces representing two thirds of the Canadian population.
Over the past week, only Saskatchewan has said it is firmly against the idea, arguing that higher pension premiums would be bad for the economy at a time of weakness triggered by the drop in commodity prices.
That raises the question of whether Saskatchewan will be able to persuade other provinces to side with its point of view and block the federal government's plans. Ahead of the meeting, the positions of British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador were unclear. The remaining provinces said they were generally supportive of Ottawa's plans.
Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Cathy Bennett did not stop to talk to reporters Sunday evening ahead of the meeting. However, Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao and his B.C. counterpart Mike de Jong did share their concerns, without taking firm positions.
"We are open to taking a look at what the federal government will be talking about. I'm not quite sure what it is," said Mr. Leitao. "But the federal government has also indicated they are open to examining the issue, perhaps going with a modest and targeted approach to improving the CPP. We're okay. We can talk about that. But we already have a voluntary system in place in Quebec which we think works well. But again, we're not closing the door. We'll be taking part in the discussions [Monday] on that."
Mr. de Jong said his concern is the impact a change may have on the economy.
"It's pretty clearly on the agenda and we're going to have a discussion about how to proceed, when to proceed and what the options are. It's obvious that the new federal Finance Minister is interested in taking some steps. Other provinces are and we'll have a good discussion," said Mr. de Jong.
"The economy is fragile. I think you've got to be careful about when you pull the trigger on a change like this and that's part of what we are going to be discussing is when is the appropriate time to [make] the change and what's a logical change to make."
For his part, Mr. Morneau did not have much to say on the issue as he headed into the meeting.
"What I am hoping for is we have a broader discussion about many issues. So I'm hoping that we'll start out by talking about economic growth and the challenges facing Canadians and how we can work together in a spirit of collaboration to meet up to those challenges," he said. "CPP is one of the agenda items and it's one that we'll try to get some consensus on."