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 plan.

Topics

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her speech.

However, I want to make it clear that this product will merely encourage people to save; it will not guarantee anyone's retirement income.

My colleague said that people can invest in these pension plans. But consider TFSAs, which are a similar product to help people save tax-free. Only 41% of Canadians have a TFSA, and nearly half of them earn $100,000 or more per year. Only 24% of those surveyed said they are using their TFSA to save for retirement. The product envisaged in Bill C-25 is the same as an existing retirement product.

Why does my colleague say that people will invest more if they are not required to, even though he knows that people who do not have money do not invest for their retirement?

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the opposition, but I must clarify some facts so that he better understands our bill.

Our bill will help all Canadians. In fact, it will give Canadians the opportunity to save for their retirement. How? People who are not currently part of a pension plan, such as self-employed workers and business owners without a retirement plan, will be able to use the new PRPPs. When we save money, we set that money aside for retirement.

The hon. member addressed another part of our strategy to help all Canadians.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place and represent the constituents of Crowfoot and speak on their behalf in this House of Commons.

I realize that the introduction to this will not necessarily deal immediately with the pooled registered retirement plan, but over the last couple of days here on Parliament Hill we have had some major announcements about some things that I had never heard about.

Two days ago, the Minister of Health and a couple of other ministers made an announcement about a drug known as “bath salts”, which was a negative part of the drug culture and basic culture around the world, where people, young and old, were using this new drug, and so we banned it. My point is that our government was stepping forward to protect Canadians from something that some of our young people may not have even realized at the time would be such a potent, devastating tragedy just waiting to happen.

Yesterday, we had another announcement about human trafficking where we stepped up and said that we would protect Canadians.

Our government is implementing plans across the country and across a wide scope of areas to protect Canadians. We are implementing plans to create jobs and enable small businesses to provide opportunities for retirement, which is what we are here debating today, because we want Canadians to be secure on our streets, in a job and in retirement. Bill C-25 is part of that plan.

Our Conservative government's efforts to help Canadians save for their retirement do not begin with a pooled registered pension plan. It begins with a vast number of other plans that we want to see stable and secure. We see and have heard that our CPP is stable and strong. In the 75 year projection, CPP will be very strong and it will be there when Canadians need it.

However, not always does one size fit all. Not always can we tell Canadians that only if they wait CPP will take care of them at the end of the day. I think every economist and all individuals who are trying to better their life or pass on some financial instruction to their children would encourage their children to save, not just to go out and get a job and pay into CPP, but that they look at a number of different avenues in which they can protect their retirement and have a strong retirement.

This is a modern-day effort to assist Canadians who are self-employed or who work for small firms or businesses that do not have part of a benefits package that includes a pension plan. Our intent is to help Canadians who work where there is no pension plan. Sometimes the opposition members stand back and say that we should just throw more money into CPP or we should have that wealth transfer so the wealthy can put more money into it and we will all get a bit more. The CPP is strong and maybe we can make it stronger but there needs to be more avenues than just the CPP and more avenues than just this pooled retirement pension plan.

Many constituents in my riding of Crowfoot do not have access to a pension plan. The colleague who just spoke said that 60% of Canadians do not have access to a pension plan. I live in a rural riding and I believe that is true in most rural or remote ridings in Canada.

I spoke to this bill at second reading. When I had town hall meetings, met with constituents and had satellite office days, constituents came to me and asked me about the pooled registered retirement savings plan. I explained to them that we were not trying to incorporate a mandatory plan for all Canadians. I told them that it was not another tax grab, that it was not another opportunity for the government to put more of a premium down on CPP or any one plan. I told them that this was an opportunity, if they so chose to do it, to invest in a pooled registered retirement plan.

Around our place this summer, we will have a different type of summer. My oldest child, my daughter, is getting married. With that has come all the fun things with being involved in wedding planning. For years we have sat down and talked to our children about planning for the future and about some day in the future buying a home. We have told them that even when they come right out of college they should purchase an RRSP, that they should look into all of those different avenues.

Now, as my daughter is preparing to get married, she and her fiancé have asked me to n go with them to look at a house. They are just out of college and yet they want to invest in a home. I have for years told my children that they want to buy a home with 20% to 25% down. Now my daughter is telling that, even though I always told her that it was important to have that 20% to 25% to put down, she does not have 5% to put down, which is why she needed me to look at a home. The point is that some of these lessons are learned. Our children learn that it is important to have equity in a home and that it is important to invest and prepare for the future. As a father, I want to be able to help where I can.

As a government, we also want to be able to help where we can. As a government, we want to be able to say that we will not only be satisfied with the CPP, that we will not only be satisfied with the tax free savings account and that we will not only be satisfied with a pooled pension plan, we want people to pick and choose and perhaps invest but to prepare.

In the rural constituency that I represent there are many farmers and many agricultural based companies who do not have a pooled registered pension plan. This is one of those opportunities. I commend our government for bringing this forward. I encourage the opposition to get off the bandwagon of one-size-fits-all and to recognize that when people have a registered plan they have something to count on.

Not only do we have agriculture in Crowfoot but many people work in the oil patch in Crowfoot. Many people today will be contracted to work for one company but in a year or two will be working for a different company. The thing I like about this plan is that people would be able to take the plan with them because it is a plan in which they invest. When they leave that company, maybe after two years, they would not need to decide whether to pull out that little chunk of money they put away in a pension plan and put it into an RRSP, which is really the only way to protect that money. There is the tax free savings account, but to save some taxes people can invest in an RRSP.

Now, as people switch from one company to another, one job to another or one contract to another, the pooled pension plan would remain constant. Now, when they go to the next place of employment that does not provide a pension plan, they would have this tool in their toolbox. It is something they will appreciate.

I encourage the opposition to recognize that there are many Canadians with many different groups. People cannot always reach into their toolbox and pull out a hammer. We reach in and pull out the tool that best suits our needs for the job that we are doing.

We are fortunate sitting here because we have pension plans. That is the topic of discussion, as well, in my constituency. I think it is time to say that this opportunity needs to avail for all those who want to take advantage of it. Our government is providing that tool and I congratulate it.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

June 7th, 2012 / 12:15 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP have said that we should have a comprehensive view of the retirement security plans for all Canadians. That has been our position for a number of years.

The member spoke about town halls and previous speakers spoke about the parliamentary secretary doing town halls in 2009. I did 20 town halls that summer. The next year I did 20 more, and I have done 7 this year so far. Overwhelmingly, people have told me that the type of plan the government talks about in the PRPP is not what suits their needs. We have a difference of view. I am not saying that the government is not making attempts to do things, because it is. In fact, I have had discussions with members regarding the enhancement of the Canada pension plan. I still think that is something we will get to at some point in time.

However, the PRPP has two significant flaws, which I have mentioned before: it is not mandatory and there is no cap on fees. It relies on the goodwill of the provinces involved.

The situation in Australia with the Australia superfund, which was a similar type plan, over a 10 year period it did not even keep pace with inflation because of the fees that were applied to it. That is my concern.

If you cap the fees, then you might have something that has some reasonableness to it, but if you do not do that it will not help Canadians.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Again I would remind all hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair rather than to their colleagues.

The hon. member for Crowfoot.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I know the member has worked on this file. I wish he had been present when the minister gave his speech because he gave the member quite an accolade. I know this is something that is near and dear to the member's heart.

As we heard in the member's question, that is one of the big differences between the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party. The hon. member said that one of the frustrations he has is that it is not mandatory, but there are other tools that are mandatory.

When people have a job, no matter what the job is, they do pay into the CPP and they do have employment insurance deductions. All of those things are mandatory. RRSPs are not mandatory. Does that make RRSPs wrong? I do not believe that hon. gentleman would suggest that it does. Why, then, would he say that his frustration is that they are not mandatory? This is an option, as we have stated before, an option for people to plan for the future.

Some individuals may have the opportunity to put thousands of dollars into the retired pension savings plan while others may have hundreds of dollars. The beauty of this plan is that it would allow people to make their decisions for their future.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's speech was very similar to the speeches I have made on this particular topic about adding a tool to the toolbox in terms of options and opportunities for Canadians.

We have heard from the other side, particularly on the CPP but even on the RRSP plan, criticism that this would be based on the marketplace of the stock markets and that it was just an investment with no guarantee because it would be invested in the stock market.

I would like the member to comment on the wrong thinking of the opposition that the stock market is the wrong place to have retirement investments. What role does the stock market play in all retirement investments in this country?

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the member is asking for advice on the stock market, he is asking the wrong guy. I know he is not.

A well-diversified portfolio is what is important. There was a very wise man who, a number of days ago, said that it was very important to take a medium to long-range look at one's planning. In an investment portfolio, I would encourage people to have some degree of investment in the stock market, but if we want to have a strong, solid, viable retirement, I would warn against lumping all of our investments into the stock market.

The plan will be well managed. It will there for employees who do not have time to manage their portfolios. This is another avenue for people to take. It will be managed, diversified, secure and registered. The government will be behind it. It is a strong, solid option.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate Bill C-25, An Act relating to pooled registered pension plans and making related amendments to other Acts.

I am trying to bring a little balance to the debate today. I have listened to what the members of the NDP and Conservatives have said. I understand the government has realized that Canadians are worried about their retirement or realized, finally, that something has to be done.

I think it was two years ago that my friend, the Minister of State for Finance, travelled across the country, had consultations and came up with something called a pooled registered pension plan, which is an offshoot of the registered retirement savings plan. Now the government is making a big PR event out of it. Again, I agree with the member for Burlington, that it is an extra tool in the toolbox. That is why we support it. However, that is not the answer to the crisis we are having or the retirement savings and their future that people are worried about.

We have had six years of the Conservative government, with increases in hidden taxes. That has been part of the cause. Canadians have less money in their pockets to put toward retirement. We have had a lot of pressure on Canadians, whether they have lost their jobs or have had to take on other responsibilities. We have seen Canadians of all age groups having less money in their pockets, for various reasons. As I have said, most of this had led to some of the policies of the Conservative government.

Even those who do have savings are worried about retirement. We have seen rates of interest that have been the lowest ever in history. Therefore, even people who have money put away in a savings account are barely getting 1%. A lot of times it has been 0.5% or 0.25%. Canada savings bonds used to pay 10%. They are now paying less than 2% and 3%, if people are lucky because they have been holding on to the bonds for six or seven years. We expect these interest rates to continue to be low.

Canadians have taken risks. They may be retiring in a couple of years and need to get their retirement savings up. How do they do that? Maybe they take a gamble on something, but are they not sure what it will be. Some people have put it in the stock market.

We saw what happened a couple of years ago with the tech bubble where people put tons of money in companies like Nortel, which was supposed to be the most secure company around. It was an offshoot of Bell Canada. Some people got their shares for free, like my parents. They decided to keep them. The stock went up to $100 then $200 a share. They decided to buy some more because it was going to go to $400, trading in multiples based on sales never heard before. That was the way these tech stocks were evaluated. All of a sudden, overnight, stock portfolios of millions and millions of dollars went down to zero. We are still seeing lawyers making money from the Nortel bankruptcy. People who have disability plans and pension plans with Nortel cannot get their money out. They cannot get paid because the lawyers are holding up the distribution. The government is not willing to help these people. There is some money stuck out in some tax haven and the only people making money are the professionals, and people see this.

As recently as the bank crisis a couple of years ago, people thought it was secure to have stocks in the banks. They put their money in the banks thinking it was as secure as ever. Then we saw the bank closures in the states. We were lucky in Canada, but we cannot put all our eggs in one basket, as most personal investment advisers say. They will also advise to diversify. People who took the advice of professional advisers, they would have lost some money a couple of years ago by having their money in bank stocks.

Again, people are worried. People have invested money in resources. People have invested money in the past in metals such as gold. As recently as a few years ago, gold was at a couple of hundred bucks. Now, if one was lucky enough to have invested in gold, it is at $2,000 an ounce practically, but who can forecast those things?

Some people have their money invested in secure investments such as bonds, but countries have gone bankrupt and are unable to pay their bondholders. They are being renegotiated. Who is making the big money? It is the big players. I do not see how individuals who are busy trying to raise a family will make any more money than they can make today.

Again, some people are taking more risks, such as in real estate. We see what is happening in the real estate market across the country if one is fortunate enough to buy a condo. It seems like the condo market is fine. Those who live in a condo may buy another one to rent out to maybe make some money. However, as soon as the condo market collapses, as is predicted, they may have to take some money out of their retirement savings to supplement these real estate deals.

Therefore, I do not see how the government could think that people can easily put some money into a pooled savings plan that is administered by somebody we do not know and all of a sudden, miraculously, their retirement savings will be secure for a 5, 10, 15 or 25-year period.

For years, the Liberal Party has said that we should start with the Canada pension plan. In Quebec, it is the Quebec pension plan. It survived relatively well in comparison to many of the other private pension plans, so we should be working with that.

Elderly Canadians are not the only ones who are beginning to worry. As I have said before, we have young people who are worried about their future. We see Quebeckers who are going to the streets based on the fact that their tuition fees and cost of living are going up. They see a crisis developing in the next while. That all means they know their retirement will be affected because the Conservative government has told them they will not be able to retire until the age of 67.

This is nothing new. We have had crises, whether it be over pensions or other issues. In the 1990s, the Liberal government recognized that the Canada pension plan was not sustainable and action had to be taken. What did we do? We consulted with individuals and stakeholders, not just our friends. We met with the provinces. We looked at how we could secure the CPP in the long term and we did not just issue talking points.

We realized there was a problem, and we did not turn to private institutions to solve it. We negotiated truly, we invoked thought-provoking discussions and, miraculously, we came to an agreement with all of the provinces. It was not self-imposed. It was not dictated to them, as the current government likes to do. We recently saw that with the health accord. The previous Liberal government sat down with all the provinces and discussed the issues and the needs, came to an agreement and signed a 10-year health accord. The Conservative government has said that it does not need to discuss anything with the provinces. It will give them some money and increase it at a certain level. After that, it is their problem, even though it knows that the cost of health care will increase within five to ten years.

Coming back to the bill, the government says that it will secure people's pensions. In actual fact, the only thing we think it will do is make the banks and insurance companies happy by allowing them to offer pooled registered pension plans to employers and the self-employed in federal jurisdictions. It would also provide a framework for provinces to pass similar legislation.

The budget tabled recently in the Quebec National Assembly provides for companies to offer this pooled registered pension plan to their employees, which we have not seen in the other provinces.

I do not believe the province of Ontario passed it in the last budget and there has not been any movement with the other provinces. I am sure somebody on the other side will correct me.

We also think it is great that the administrators of the plans will be regulated. Financial institutions need a special licence from the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, and we have no problem with that.

The only problem is that most individuals already have trouble saving. A lot of them are working in low-paying jobs. Many of them work for small companies, which do not have the time, energy, resources or ability to set up these plans no matter how easy it is. It will be very difficult to see any of these smaller companies implement a registered pension plan. As an accountant by trade, I just do not see it.

A lot of employers would not want to make RRSP contributions, even for employees who want to have them deducted from their pay cheques and put aside. They do not want to take on that responsibility. There would have to be separate accounting, extra cheques would be involved, for example, and administration. They would have to hold the money in an account, ensure there is enough money in that account a month later to make the remittance, and then ensure the amounts are deposited into the correct employees' accounts. I could go on and on. I do not see why we would not use the tool available to us, which would be the CPP or the QPP.

Companies would have the option of rolling into a plan. If it is not made mandatory and companies would have an option, I am not so sure how many companies would take us up on that, unless of course they have a dedicated payroll resource person and they really need to keep these employees and the employees all agree they need to have this plan.

Again, we are not asking the employer to contribute, and we are not asking all the employees of a certain company to opt in. They have the option of opting out. A company may only have 10 or 20 employees. If only 2%, 3%, or less than 50% of them opt in, I do not see why that company would go to the trouble of setting up a pooled registered pension plan.

Also, the troubling part is that this new option is another private registered savings vehicle, which more than likely would help the financial institutions. I think it was a member from the Conservative Party who stated Canadians, on average, have $80,000 of unused RRSP contributions. If there were an urgency because Canadians have totally utilized all their RRSP room, I would understand the purpose of coming up with something like this.

Right now, the only people I am aware of who are using their RRSP to the maximum, again, using my background as an accountant and speaking to my accounting friends and bankers, are people who can afford it. That means it is the higher-income people. I do not see the necessity to start a program just for these people.

The Liberals believe the solution is that we do not need to look any further than working with the Canada pension plan and the QPP to help people save for retirement. The CPP and QPP have proven track records. They have been stable and secure. Even through these economic downturns, they have been quite strong.

We see it in Quebec. The QPP has rebounded in the last two years, with rates of return close to 10%. There was a bit of a crisis about three years ago where it lost tons of money in certain investments in the banking sector. It changed its management. It changed its direction. It made recent statements that it is going to change direction again. It will be looking at making investments in infrastructure and other areas that would require a lot of money that individuals do not have in their RRSPs.

Even if we wanted to take the example of these pooled registered pension plans, there would not be enough money in these pooled plans to be able to diversify risk, as the CPP and the QPP are doing today. Supplementary CPPs could allow those who want to investment more in a secure retirement vehicle to do so.

Again, we are not sure about the fees. I know we are very worried about the fees. Even if these registered pooled pension plans start with low management fees, it would be a matter of time before the banks and insurance companies get a hold of people's accounts and hold them hostage. If the funds do a good job and the return is high, we know what would happen. All of a sudden, the fees will go up. If there is no return, the fees will stay the same. I do not see how we are going to win with this.

Again, we would be adding another level of complexity to people's options for savings, such as deciding what to do their money when they change employers: “Do I keep it in this pooled retirement savings plan? Do I keep it with the bank? Do I move it to an insurance company. What point am I at in my life? Am I going to be retiring in five years, ten years, fifteen years?

The administration of what an individual is to do with the money in that pooled registered pension plan would be a headache for unsophisticated investors, and the areas they would want to invest in would add another level of complexity.

We could look at options for opening it up further. One of the options would be for government to look at options to help those who are in the low-paid workforce. These are people who are moving from job to job, and they are the people who need the most help with their retirement savings.

In making these decisions, we need to look at the evidence. Policy decisions, such as retirement savings plans for Canadians, were not made on a whim but rather based on solid evidence.

Somebody also stated that Australia implemented a similar program to the pooled registered pension plans. After 10 years, it was obvious that the only ones making money were the financial institutions. In Australia, $161 billion of investments were made in pooled pension plans versus $105 billion in fees that were taken out of these plans. It is not dollar for dollar, but 80¢ was charged for every dollar that was put into the pooled pension plan.

A recent study by the Rotman International Journal of Pension Management found that despite the presumed role of competition, the investment performance of the system continued to be restrained, again by high fees and costs. We think this could be averted by using the CPP or QPP as the supplementary retirement investment tool.

As parliamentarians, we should also be concerned by all of this and perhaps look at how we could improve the pooled registered pension plan, or look at other options. The other option is easily the CPP, QPP.

However, we have seen that the Conservatives have already made up their minds. Like many other things, they will not listen to anyone else's opinion, or reason. They will not even look at evidence on a lot of issues. They will blindly follow this approach and put their hands over their ears and march on.

As we have seen today, the Conservatives have moved time allocation so we can no longer debate this issue. The very reason each and every one of us is elected to this House is for debate, but they decided they have heard enough, or they have pretended they have heard, and have imposed time allocation on this particular bill. This is one of many bills on which they have imposed time allocation. In Parliament, they have imposed time allocation over 60 times, and if we include committees, we are almost at the 300-point mark.

It is important to talk about how we got to a point where we suddenly have to rush through the bill. The minister of state consulted on this for about two years, and then all of a sudden there seems to be a rush to get the bill through. There have been concerns about retirement security for some time, while the Canada pension plan, and I repeat, the Canada pension plan has been secure for at least 75 years. It is not just the CPP that has been secure, but also QPP.

Canadians also need to save more for retirement to live comfortably. We all agree with that.

It was in 2009 that the Conservatives announced the consultation on pension reform. Now, all of a sudden, as I said, it has been a rush. In December 2010, the Conservatives announced this program, I will not call it a scheme, but a program.

I will wrap it up. I have a lot more notes that I could go through.

Retirement income for Canadians is important. Pensions all of a sudden have become an issue. It has always been an issue, but as we get older it becomes a greater issue.

The government has created a crisis by changing the age of retirement for being able to collect OAS. I am in favour of the flexibility the OAS will provide, but I am not in favour of changing the age from 65 to 67. One of the first people it would affect would be me. The government will be taking about $12,000 out of my pocket, and I have not even got there yet.

I do not see how Canadians could be happy with that. I do not need the money, but imagine how Canadians my age, who are relying on this money, feel about $12,000 being thrown away overnight like that.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, with whom I sat on the finance committee, for his speech. I disagreed with most of it, but I do appreciate his time.

Part of the member's argument is that there should be a voluntary opportunity to contribute to CPP. However, in the same speech the member argued that taxpayers do not have the money to contribute to a pooled registered plan. If they do not have the money for a pooled registered plan, how would they have money for the voluntary aspect of the CPP?

It is a defeatist argument, and it does not make any sense. The member cannot argue in one sense in one area and then argue the opposite in the same speech.

The member talked about how the Liberal Party put the CPP back on its financial feet. However, it was forced to do that after it took all the money out of the plan. They had to get it back on its feet, so they did something in the 1990s.

If this voluntary CPP contribution plan would be effective and the right thing to do, why did they not consider it when they were doing those changes in the 1990s?

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will address the member's first point.

The speech I gave was totally coherent. It is very easy. If we use CPP as an example, we would not force it upon all companies to contribute for all their employees because some companies cannot afford to, but some companies can.

The reason some companies would not have a pooled registered pension plan, as I stated, is because they are too small to even administer or handle the extra paper, as they are overloaded. That is the reality.

However, if there were enough employees who want to opt in with the CPP, eventually everybody will. It may start with 1¢ a pay, 10¢ a pay, $1, $10, or whatever it may be, but at least the system is there and already set up.

We have spoken to the people from CPP and QPP, and they are willing and able to do this. I do not see what the big deal is. I do not know why we have to make bankers and insurance companies richer by setting up a separate program.

Also, the Liberal government did not take money away from anything. The CPP is a totally independent board that administers money independently. None of that money was ever transferred.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, my former employer set up a pooled registered pension plan, to which the employer contributed. But only a fraction of the employees took advantage of it, probably because most employees worked part-time and did not have the money to invest. It is a similar situation in my riding, because many people have a very tight budget and do not have even $5 or $10 to set aside every week.

We know that 74% of Canadians do not invest in RRSPs because they do not have the means to do so. Despite that, the Conservatives' plan today is to pass the bill quickly through a time allocation motion, claiming that there is a huge demand for these plans.

I would like to hear what my Liberal colleague has to say, as he perhaps touched on this issue earlier in his speech.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the neighbouring riding of Hochelaga. Our ridings are facing similar challenges. In fact, some areas of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve and Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel are very poor.

The hon. member raised some very important points. According to the Liberal Party, we should start with a voluntary program. Are we going to ask people who work part-time and earn $100 a week—like my son who has just started working— to contribute 20% of their salary to a retirement plan? That is unacceptable.

For that reason, we believe that we must start by deducting the amounts already set out in the law. Later, we could increase these deductions by establishing criteria that we will have discussed beforehand. This is not something we should impose today. The government should not be imposing a gag order on a bill that should be debated.

I do not understand this government's attitude. There are a number of things that are more important than retirement plans for people who are already rich and are already making significant contributions to their RRSPs. In my opinion, the issues this country must address today are pensions, students and young people.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the response from the member. I want it to be clear and on the record that it was the current government that brought in the process that contributions to CPP cannot be raided of any surpluses by any government in the future. That was our doing, our policy.

Based on the member's comments, I assume the member is in support of and congratulates the government in making sure that future governments cannot raid surpluses, as previous governments have done in the past.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the only thing this government has done in terms of raiding was to set up an independent unemployment board and dedicate $1 billion to it. It already has a deficit of $3 billion or $4 billion after three years. This government has only been in power for six years and has done nothing but tax Canadians and put them in the situation they are today.