House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was panama.

Topics

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 67(1) there will be a 30-minute question period. We will try to keep the questions and comments to about a minute and the responses to a similar length of time to accommodate as many people as possible.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with no great joy that I rise today to again address questions to the government about the need to invoke closure and shut down debate in the House. A record is being set. This is the 24th time the government has invoked such a motion to shut down debate and discussion in Parliament, the very name of which means a place where members discuss things.

Just because the government has the power to do this, which it does in its majority position, does not mean that it should invoke this power with such frequency and, if I may suggest, such joy. To continue to shut down discussions on such important things as pensions before there can be an actual debate about it shows a certain lack of courage by the government.

I will read a quote in my question for the parliamentary secretary. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages stated:

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. This is a very important public policy question that is very complex and we have the arrogance of the government in invoking closure again. When we look at the Liberal Party [which was in power at the time] on arrogance it is like looking at the Grand Canyon. It is this big fact of nature that we cannot help but stare at.

That is what the Conservatives used to believe when they were in opposition about invoking closure on important public policy debates.

If the government has the courage of its convictions and believes that it has the evidence on its side, why the need, for the 24th time, to invoke closure on Canada's Parliament? Why the need to shut down debate, to shut down open and transparent government for the 24th time?

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Minister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, we realize the urgency of getting this pooled registered pension plan in place because the provinces, frankly, are waiting for it. Quebec is one province that has a large number of people who do not have a workplace pension plan at this time. The Quebec finance minister, Raymond Bachand, and I have had many discussions about this and he continually urges me to get this through our legislative process. I suggest that it is very critical that we get this done. Frankly, the only people who have written to me who say that pooled registered pension plans are not a very good option that we should be pursuing are those who now have a pension.

I am here to push this forward to ensure we provide an option for the 60% of Canadians in the workforce who do not have the luxury of a pension plan.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, what is very clear is that the government has no qualms in abusing its power. It is important that we recognize that the government has now introduced time allocation on major variations of all types of legislation, budget proceedings and so forth, everything from the budget itself to the Canadian Wheat Board, to back-to-work legislation and yet again today.

I would emphasize, for the Conservative backbenchers in particular, that when they start to think about what will happen next week during the hours and hours of potential voting that might take place, I want them to reflect on the ability of the government House leader. The ability of the government House leader has been dismal. I have worked under NDP and Conservative majority governments in the province of Manitoba for many years and never before have I seen a House leader fail in his or her responsibility in providing adequate and proper debate on a wide variety of legislation.

Why has the government failed so miserably to work with either the official opposition or the Liberal Party to ensure that there is fair and adequate debate, therefore allowing for true accountability on the wide and important issues facing Canadians today?

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, why is it that the hon. member can only talk about process? There is ample opportunity to debate today. He could have asked me a question about the substance of a pooled registered pension plan, how it works, how it will help Canadians or how it will provide another option for them. What does he ask? He asks a process question, probably identical to the one that he has asked every other time that he has stood in the House.

I did not get elected by telling my constituents I would come here and debate process. I told them I would come here and debate substance and do what is right for Canadians.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are in fact debating a time allocation motion, which is debating the abuse of process that the government insists on following whereby for the 24th time it is limiting democratic debate on fundamental issues affecting Canadians.

What sparked this crisis around pensions was the crash of the private markets that were speculating, fraudulently, wildly, rampantly in the private sector. What we need and what there is general consensus on is the strengthening the public pension system, public pensions that are best represented by the Canada and Quebec pension plans.

Why would we ask Canadians to again trust their money to the private market which has dashed the hopes of so many for retirement security? Why would we trust it again now? Why would we allow it to make profits on the lack of security for most Canadians?

How can we ask the two-thirds of Canadians who do not have the extra money to put into private speculation to put even more money aside when they are having trouble making ends meet with a higher than ever personal debt level in Canada today? How can the minister justify that?

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I chastised my Liberal colleague for not talking about substance and now I see that you have provided latitude to the following questioners to actually get into the substance of it, which is good because we should be talking about that. That is what Canadians want us to talk about here. Can we provide a better option for people to help save for their own retirement? The answer is, yes. We put forward pooled registered pension plans as an option for that. That did not just come out of my mind. That was through extensive consultation with seniors and actuaries across this country who provided very sound advice on how we could best help Canadians save for themselves. It also included very extensive consultations with all of the provinces.

The hon. member should know, with her experience in dealing with provincial legislatures, that we do not have the authority to make an arbitrary change to the Canada pension plan without two-thirds of the provinces agreeing, as well as two-thirds of the population in those provinces agreeing to make a change. We did not have that. What we did have was unanimous consent from all the finance ministers from all across this country to pursue the framework for a pool registered pension plan. That is what we are doing.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, the pooled registered pension plan is a small step that would provide another vehicle for savings. The NDP is quite right in pointing out that it is not an actual pension plan, but it is another savings vehicle.

Another idea that could be implemented to strengthen the option of the pooled registered pension plan and help keep fees competitive would be a voluntary supplemental Canada pension plan that would give Canadians, on a voluntary basis, the opportunity to invest in what is a Canada pension plan fund that is well-managed, well-diversified across asset class, well-diversified geographically and sectorally and also has a very low management fee because of the scale of it.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, CFIB, has endorsed and supports the Liberal proposal of a voluntary supplemental CPP, as has the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP. It would not lead to a significant or big increase in payroll premiums at a time of high unemployment, which is the concern the minister has expressed about the New Democrat proposal. However, it would help keep fees low for the financial services companies providing options in terms of pooled registered pension plans.

Will the minister express the government's view on this option that the Liberals have put forward, which could co-exist with the pooled registered pension plan and is endorsed—

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. Before I recognize the hon. Minister of State for Finance, I would ask all members to ask their questions as briefly as possible and provide brief answers so that I can recognize as many of the members as I see rising as I can. As the Speaker has often said, we treat this like question period, recognizing, for the most part, members of the opposition, but I will recognize a couple of government members.

The hon. Minister of State for Finance.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I, too, shall try to keep my answers brief, and I appreciate that.

However, I do want to reflect on the fact that we actually have a question on substance, and that is what we should be talking about. We should use every minute we have in this House to actually talk about substantive issues.

The hon. member asked a very good question. As part of our consultation, we looked at whether there should be an increase to the Canada pension plan. Our officials in the finance departments of all the provinces and territories, as well as the federal finance department, are still looking at options in order to ensure the Canada pension plan reflects the new environment we are living in.

However, we also looked at a voluntary supplementary Canada pension plan. We actually talked to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and asked the question outright: could it accommodate a voluntary supplementary pension plan? They said, not without increasing the cost.

That is why we are putting forward a low-cost, very accessible pension option for the 60% of Canadians who now do not have that option.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Madam Speaker, the first thing I must say is that this is a time allocation motion. Once again, this is an attack on democracy, which is a big problem.

We had a chance to hear the minister of state answer questions. He talked about how there were consultations with the provinces to improve the federal pension plan and the Quebec pension plan.

In light of these discussions, we can see that the government is acting unilaterally. The government is imposing its decision regarding transfers to the provinces without any discussion. With respect to employment insurance, the government is once again making a unilateral decision that affects the Atlantic provinces in particular.

My questions are for the minister of state. How can the government say that it will negotiate in good faith and talk with the provinces when it is acting unilaterally? When the government does this, how can it expect to sit down as equals with the provinces, to benefit the retirees who worked for Canada and who built the country we know today?

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, it is very easy to answer “yes” to that, because we have actually held the consultations.

We recognized the challenges that future retirees were facing, early in 2008. Our finance minister recognized that, and he asked two pension experts, retirement experts, to draft consultation papers for the federal-provincial-territorial finance ministers to scrutinize in December 2008.

This is before the NDP ever thought there were any issues with retirement. We started consulting then with the provinces, our partners in this. The consultation has already taken place all across this country. I have travelled to every province and every territory in this country to consult with those who have been impacted and will be impacted. This is the consensus that comes from the provinces and the federal government, and it is exactly what Canadians are asking for.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

June 7th, 2012 / 10:20 a.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to tell the minister how much I, as the member from Mississauga, very much appreciate the bill.

For many years throughout Canadian history, the small business people, who have really built this country, have never had this kind of savings vehicle available to them, especially in Mississauga, where we have so many new Canadians who come to Canada and often find it very difficult when they first arrive to get hired by large industrial companies that have traditional pension plans. They start small businesses and they employ friends and neighbours. This is a plan that I think is important to them.

I wonder if the hon. member would talk a bit about how important it is to small business people, and new Canadians in particular.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, not only for his work on this matter, but for a very intuitive question. This is the challenge that many small businesses have dealt with. They have raised this with us in our consultations. They want to be able to provide some assistance. Not every business, but many businesses said, “We want to be able to help provide an option for our employees.”

New companies starting up and many of the long-time companies would like to offer a pension option to their employees. However, for the type of registered plan that most employers can offer, the employer carries the fiduciary responsibility. If something does not go right with that investment, who are the employees going to blame? They are going to blame their employer.

That is the beauty of the pooled registered pension plan. All the employer would have to do is offer it to his or her employees. The fiduciary responsibility would be on the pension plan provider.

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, this morning is all about time allocation. The Conservatives have told us to be silent 24 times. However, it is important for us to be able to speak on various issues.

There are tax-free savings accounts for the richest members of this society, and the government plans to increase the maximum amount that can be deposited into such accounts to $10,000 per year. There are RRSPs for people who are able to save and who choose to go that route. And we are familiar with the public pension funds that are already protecting all Canadians—the Quebec pension plan and the Canada pension plan.

Why take risks? There was a white collar crime scandal not too long ago that jeopardized some people's savings. These people were putting money away every day from their net income—not their gross income—to try to have a pension. They lost $10,000, $20,000 and sometimes even more. Why risk Canadians' savings by investing their pension funds in the stock market?