An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (adjusted pension for persons with other income above the level at which the second percentage of income tax applies)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Keith Martin  Independent

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of April 9, 2003
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

April 19th, 2004 / 11:05 a.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca is not present to move the motion for second reading of Bill C-428, an act to amend the Canada pension plan, as announced in today's Order Paper and Notice Paper. Pursuant to Standing Order 94, since this is the second time this item has not been dealt with on the dates established by the order of precedence, the bill will be dropped from the order paper.

Canada Pension PlanPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2003 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Gilbert Barrette Liberal Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity of giving the government's point of view on Bill C-428.

I must admit in all honesty that this motion by the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca is hard to understand. It asks us to support a huge reduction in retirement pensions. Some people would lose as much as 60% of their benefits.

I am afraid that this proposal would undermine the financial support system from which we benefit today, a system that has proven itself. One need only take a quick look at its history to be convinced of that.

The Canada pension plan was implemented in 1966 with a view to providing a modest income for Canadian workers in the event of disability or on retirement. It also provides payments to surviving spouses, or common law spouses, and to the dependent children of a deceased or disabled contributor.

The Canada pension plan is designed to replace approximately one-quarter of an individual's income up to a set ceiling. The amount paid out depends on how long the person paid into the plan, and how much he or she contributed.

During the last fiscal year, 2002-03, over 4.4 million Canadians received approximately $21.6 billion in CPP benefits. Of that amount, $15.1 billion went to 2.9 million retirees. Over 900,000 surviving spouses and some 87,000 children of deceased contributors received a total of $3.3 billion. Finally, another $3 billion was paid out in disability benefits to approximately 283,000 disabled contributors and 90,000 of their children.

Canada has put in place a support system that makes us the envy of all other countries. We have made giant strides over the past three decades in reducing the number of low-income seniors. The Canada pension plan has played a vital role in that progress.

Do we really want to do anything to reduce the positive effects of the CPP now and in the future? Actuarial experts have determined that the CPP is doing very well. It remains viable with its current contribution rates and will continue to do so for the next 50 years.

By reducing the benefits, we would be changing the basis of the Canada pension plan. The government would be breaching an important contract with all Canadian workers. It is a contract that stipulates that people who contribute to the Canada pension plan during their working years are entitled to receive benefits.

Such a change would completely undermine Canadians' trust in and their support for this plan. Do we want to run such a risk? I also have other concerns about the opposition member's bill.

Does Bill C-428 discriminate? It seems to. It targets a specific group, namely people between the age of 60 and 69. It also implies a reduction added to another reduction. It proposes reducing by up to 60% a pension that has already been diminished for people who file an application for benefits before age 65 and who are fully entitled to do so.

This bill would be a real disaster in terms of financial planning for many Canadians. It would disrupt their retirement planning. The CPP benefits they rely on to ensure their income later would be withdrawn.

This bill would end up punishing people who are saving for their retirement. It would be like saying, “Set aside some money so that we can take it all away”.

What advantage would there be to saving for retirement? This would discourage even those who might have considered working in retirement.

In addition, Bill C-428 would have an impact on other retirement plan providers. Many retirement plans are integrated plans in which benefits are reduced by the amount of benefits paid under the Canada pension plan.

This reduction in benefits would create a gap that private pension plans could not fill. This would result in a substantially lower retirement income for many Canadians. Bill C-428 would affect the integrity of the Canada pension plan, to the detriment of many Canadians at risk, recipients of disability benefits, women, and senior women living alone in particular. Nearly 90% of recipients of survivor benefits are women.

Bill C-428 would also have a major impact on the husband, wife or common law spouse of individuals whose pension was reduced. If they died, the benefits paid to the survivor would be lower. This is clearly a bad initiative.

It is true that certain Canadians have greater financial means at their disposal during their retirement. However, they worked their entire lives, they saved money and they contributed to the Canada pension plan, and now that they are retired, we are going to take a significant portion of their CPP pension from them on the pretext that they have a modest but comfortable income.

CPP pension benefits are taxable, like any other kind of income. What about Canadians living outside Canada who pay taxes in their country of residence? Are they exempt from Bill C-428?

Also, the Government of Canada coordinates the CPP, in conjunction with its provincial partners. They must give their approval. Why would the provinces support a measure that could undermine a self-funding, sustainable national pension plan?

This will never happen. We will ensure that it does not. I listed a number of concerns and problems with Bill C-428, and I cannot find a single reason to justify its implementation, not one. Our government is prepared to make moderate changes to the Canada pension plan, when it needs to do so and when the majority of our partners and stakeholders support the proposed changes.

This proposal has no support whatsoever. The Canada pension plan has been responding adequately to the needs of Canadians for over 40 years. It will continue to do so in the coming years, and Canadians can count on us to see to that.

Canada Pension PlanPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2003 / 6:35 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-428. I believe it is a bill that opens the door to talk about an important issue for Canadians. Pensions are something we invest in at a very young age when entering the workforce.

The Canada pension plan has a lifelong contribution. Individuals start to become aware of the fact that they have to retire at some point in time and plan for that. The CPP is a useful tool and important social program. It is not only sustaining the ability for people to have an income and security, but it teaches people along the way to save for their future, and to ensure that they develop the habits that are necessary to put money aside in the actual retirement setting.

Bill C-428 looks at the whole issue of pensions. I commend the member for bringing it forward; however, I disagree with the nature of the bill and what it would eventually do. Nevertheless, I think it is important to recognize that we should start talking about the issue.

Specific to the bill itself, we are concerned that it would eventually undermine our universal pension plan. We have had a strong tradition of creating some social programs that have some sense of vibrancy and security for individuals from coast to coast to coast.

We know that there has been a discussion about the sustainability of the Canada pension plan. There is a great debate about this but regardless of that, we know, and it was acknowledged, that we can sustain this program should we choose to do so, and we can do it in an affordable way that makes sense.

One of the things with which we do have a problem is that the CPP benefits under the system would become income tested. We believe it should be paid to workers in a way that would be fair. This complicates that element.

It would effectively also raise the retirement age and eliminate the mandatory age of retirement which we have yet to really discuss as a nation. I feel that it is something that we could discuss some more. The bill introduces that notion, but there are some good points that have been added.

People are choosing to work longer in life for a variety of reasons. Some people are also choosing to retire earlier if they can afford to do so. That is a personal decision and we should allow that freedom. That is what we should work toward. It should not be a crutch, which this system could become, for individuals to supplement their income because there is not a good solid pension system that the country can afford.

I can give a good example. A number of people have witnessed their income depreciate through cost of living and they have had to take on additional responsibilities and jobs. If they want to do so, and they can do so, that is a very positive thing, but other people are forced into that during the latter years of their lives. That creates some significant problems for them and their families. That is something that the country must address.

One of the pension issues that we should start talking more about in the future or at least discussing it, is what is happening with young people. We are going to see further problems if we do not address it. We are seeing people entering the workforce later in life and having fewer pensionable earning years. At the same time, they are transferring their pension as they move along through private sector jobs ensuring that they are going to have the maximum benefits that they can put in. But their pensionable years are going to be condensed because they will have fewer earning years and that is going to create some problems. That is why we need to start discussing the issue.

We are also very concerned about one aspect of the bill that deals with foreign investment. It is one of the things with which we have great difficulty. We believe that raising the level of foreign investment to 50% would be a wrong way to go about building Canada and building the confidence in our current pensionable investments that we do have.

We have a situation right now where the Canada pension plan itself has 30% of its investment overseas. It has no forms of control, no green screen, no ethic screen, none of those things. We do not know where that money is being invested. We do not have any control over it and that is the wrong way to do business.

As we invest our tax paying dollars and our personal income, we should ensure, for example, that we are not investing in tobacco companies which we know the Canada pension plan does.

For those reasons, we oppose the bill. I want to commend the member for at least bringing this forward. Pension issues should be discussed, but at a more opportune time.

Canada Pension PlanPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2003 / 6:25 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, I wish to say a few words on Bill C-428.

I commend the member for bringing forth the bill. As he mentioned a few moments ago, Canada is a greying nation. It is about time that people in positions of public responsibility took note of that very salient fact. We are living longer. Many people have the capacity to work beyond age 65.

To some extent, of course, we in the chamber are guilty of turning a blind eye toward a double standard. While 65 is the normal retirement age, in both the public and private sector, it does not apply here. People here can work beyond 65 and certainly, in the Senate people can work beyond 65.

As Canadians, we value freedom. Many would ask, should people not be free to work beyond the age of 65 if they choose to do so? If they so choose, why can they not also avail of the benefits of an adjusted Canada pension plan?

Some would ask, is it not better for the economy to have these people still productive past the age of 65? The people we are talking about here are people who choose to work, not people who are being forced to work or people who are required to work. If working makes them happy or for some reason is an economic necessity, then I would ask, why can they not carry on with a reduced Canada pension of course?

At the same time, these senior workers would reduce the financial pressure on the Canada pension plan. One of the aims and objectives of the bill is to reduce the pressure on the Canada pension plan by taking a reduced payout while these senior people continue to work. That makes perfectly good sense to me.

Bill C-428 would provide for a sliding scale of adjusted pensions over ages ranging from 60 to 69 years of age. For example, a working person taking Canada pension plan benefits between the ages of 60 and 65 would receive 40% of the CPP benefits. A 66 year old worker would receive 50% of CPP benefits and a 69 year old would receive 80% and so on.

I think this is a very good bill. The bill would also apply where the senior worker's taxable income exceeded the second tax bracket in our income tax system. Simply put, the system would apply to the majority of senior Canadians. It would afford them with a choice to continue working with a reduced Canada pension benefit as an incentive for remaining in the workforce.

Those who choose to retire at 65, of course, would receive 100% of their CPP entitlement. That makes sense to me.

I said earlier that we are a greying nation. This fact was brought home to me quite forcefully during the recent provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador because of the last decade of out migration by young families. The greying of our province was probably more noticeable than in any other Canadian jurisdiction.

During the Newfoundland and Labrador election, I can tell members that seniors' issues played a prominent role. All the political parties had policy positions on issues that affected seniors and well they should. Today, seniors are more educated, more informed and they have a tendency to speak out on matters that affect them, and well they should. Indeed, they have no hesitation in making their views known at election time. They have become an increasingly important sector of the electorate and we in this Chamber would do well to pay them the respect that they deserve.

In this regard, there are a number of other matters that the House would do well to consider. We should eliminate, for instance, income tax altogether for low income seniors. Many would say that they have paid their dues. It was their blood, sweat and tears that got us where we are today. It would be a good idea to eliminate income taxes altogether for low income seniors.

Our nation's health care system needs to be adjusted as well, with added emphasis on home care for seniors so that they will be able to live longer in their own homes. We should assist seniors by giving them more flexibility with regard to their RRSPs. To help save for retirement, we should increase the RRSP contribution limit to 20% of income, for instance. If an individual were to cash in an RRSP tomorrow, the value of the amount cashed in would be added to the taxable income and would be taxable at the regular rate. Because they are registered retirement savings plans, why not give retired people a break? Why not let retired people cash in their RRSPs tax free up to a stipulated yearly limit?

I wish to commend the member for bringing Bill C-428 to the floor of the House, not only for its content, but because it deals realistically with the fact that we have an aging population. People are getting older. Whether or not we want to face up to it, a growing number of Canadians are facing up to it every day. Their needs, concerns and aspirations must become our common cause here in the House of Commons.

Much has been said in the House about the importance of renewed federal financial support for our health and education systems and properly so. The modern nation we call Canada is composed of people who are healthier, wealthier and more educated than their forebears, mainly because their forebears had the insight to put such publicly funded systems in place. However, because we are better informed and healthier, we are living longer. The success of the health and education system has created a new problem that our grandparents did not even know about.

Bill C-428 deserves serious consideration by the House. It treats our seniors with the respect that they deserve. The bill would apply where the senior worker's taxable income would exceed the second tax bracket in our income tax system. Simply put, it would apply to the majority of senior Canadians. It would afford them with a choice to continue working with a reduced Canada pension benefit as an incentive for remaining in the workforce, and to those who choose to retire at age 65 would of course receive 100% of their CPP entitlements.

We support the bill because it would provide more flexibility to seniors who want to work. It would help combat certain growing skill shortages in the economy. It would lessen the financial pressure on the Canada pension plan system and dare I say it? It would make some people happy.

Canada Pension PlanPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2003 / 6:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Madam Speaker, like my hon. colleague, I am very pleased to speak on this bill, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (adjusted pension for persons with other income above the level at which the second percentage of income tax applies).

I listened very carefully to the presentation by the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, because I was trying to figure out what his bill was all about. I had read it, I read it again earlier and I read the letter he sent us. Unfortunately, it reads:

“This bill contains the following provisions”.

It is too bad he did not take the precaution of sending his letter through the official channels of the House to have it translated. We could have received a French version, instead of just the English.

In his letter, he identifies five points covered by his bill. I have read the bill over and over, sent it to the research services, and even to a lawyer, and oddly enough, nowhere in this bill have we found what he said it contained.

Understandably, it will be very, and even hugely difficult for us to vote for this bill. There will be a free vote on the bill, but I would recommend to the members from my party that we vote against it. This is a bill that is fundamentally discriminatory, a bill that wold have people believe that, past the age of 65, we are still in our prime and can work ourselves to death.

Our life expectancy may be 80 years, but we should see what kind of life people have between the ages of 65 and 80. If workers can afford to take an early retirement at age 55, I do not see why they should be told that, if they stay on until the age of 65, they will receive a small portion of their pension as an incentive.

I find it quite awful that this bill is, in the end, negative. It is intended to be positive and our colleague's remarks contain positive aspects. It is true that the population is aging and that there will be fewer young people to support retirees. The statistics cannot be denied. This will be a problem.

Another problem is our very low birth rate. We cannot deny this either. However, as long as people aged 65 and up are being encouraged to remain employed, our economy can also provide employment for young people. This seems extremely important.

Our colleague also mentioned that it was important to increase or double the annual RRSP contribution limits. I do not object per say, except that I see no need to double the limit. It is currently about 15%. Allowing people to invest 15% of their income tax-free seems sufficient. There is no need to double it. That is one reason we oppose this bill.

Furthermore, the hon. member would also like to increase the limit on foreign investments. He wants to double the RRSP contribution limit and increase the limit on foreign investments. This is a surprising measure. I have known the hon. member since 1993. I had pegged him as more left of centre and not on the extreme right. Doubling the amount of money we can save and, additionally, invest abroad, is almost encouraging tax havens.

As you know, the Bloc Quebecois is averse to the idea of tax havens. To us it seems rather incompatible with the position the hon. member may be taking.

Bill C-428 would make it possible for people with taxable incomes above $60,000, the infamous second tax threshold, to work after the age of 65 and to receive a graduated portion of their pension. With this bill, the hon. member is seeking to attenuate the effects of demography. I am not convinced that this bill would achieve his objectives.

We shall vote against this bill—in any case I hope my colleagues will act on the recommendation I will be making in caucus—basically because it is discriminatory. I am somewhat uncomfortable voting against it but I would be even more so were I to vote in favour of it. This pension plan, with or without this new bill, does not affect Quebec, since we have our own pension plan. Therefore, this bill does not apply in Quebec. If there had been any advantages, I would have tried to find them, identify them and speak about them.

I shall listen to the debates that follow and during the time allotted for the hon. member to reply at the end of his speech—if we have the opportunity to resume this debate—I will ask the hon. member to explain what advantage there is in improving the precarious economic situation or improving the situation for people who want to retire or continue working. Nevertheless, the bill is not excessively clear.

Canada Pension PlanPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2003 / 5:55 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

moved that Bill C-428, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (adjusted pension for persons with other income above the level at which the second percentage of income tax applies), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-428 deals with one of the most pressing problems that will affect us in the future. We have an aging population and this demographic threatens to rupture our social programs in the future unless we deal with these challenges today. In particular, it will have a profound impact on our health care system and on our pension system.

Bill C-428 is the first of two bills that I put together dealing with the issue of pensions, specifically, how we ensure that our public pension schemes will be there for us and successive generations. If we do not deal with this we will have a sea of seniors, particularly low and middle income seniors, believing their pensions will be there for them in the future but, unfortunately, will not be there for them.

I want to provide the House with a few specifics. In 1973, 7% of our population was over the age of 65. Today it is 13%. By the year 2030, a staggering 25% of our population will be over the age of 65. In other words, two to three people working at that time will be supporting a retiree. Let us think for a moment what that will do to our pension plans.

We know our aging population will increase because people are living longer. Today it is estimated that a man will live to an average age in the upper seventies and a woman to the average age in the low eighties. It is anticipated that in the year 2030 a person's average lifespan will be 90 years of age. This means that people will receive money from their public pension plans for 25 years.

On top of that, our birthrate is falling. With our aging population there will be a huge demographic bubble. We have a truncated population that is working with a smaller and younger population coming up beneath it. As I said before, this demographic bubble will cripple and punish our pension plans unless we deal with this problem today. The Europeans and the Americans have begun to deal with this problem but we have not. If we fail to deal with it, it will be at our peril.

Bill C-428 has several purposes. First, it would open the debate on the issue of saving our pension plans and our social programs given this demographic pressure, and second, it offers solutions to saving our CPP.

Specifically, Bill C-428 does the following. If people want to retire at the age of 65 they can. If they want to continue to work past the age of 65, they can continue to work and receive their income and still receive a graded percentage of their CPP. For example, people who are age 65 will receive 40% of their CPP premiums. People who are age 66 will receive 50%. This amount will increase to a full 100% at the age of 70. This acts as an incentive to keep people in the workforce. It also reduces the demand on our CPP, and that is important.

The government has been forced to successively increase the amount of contributions we make so that today's contribution of 9.9% is a 175% increase from what it was when the CPP was originally put forth in 1966.

The purpose of the bill is to encourage people to stay in the workforce. As I said previous, in the future fewer people will be in the workforce. How do we encourage them to stay? Back when the retirement age was set at 65, the average lifespan was less than 60. Now it is higher. People at the age of 65 or 70 years of age are physiologically and biologically much younger than people at that age some years ago.

Furthermore, many of the jobs that are available today are in the service sector and that sector does not require the great physical challenges that occurred in times past in the manufacturing and resource sector.

People want to work. A lot of people are having difficulty making enough money to put some aside for their retirement. Why not give them the opportunity to work? Why not encourage them to stay in the workforce and give them the ability to provide for themselves?

The full concept of a mandatory retirement age of 65 in my view is obsolete. We should retire the mandatory age of retirement. It is long overdue. It is an anachronism from times past.

By keeping people in the workforce we are also keeping the brain trust. Many people between the ages of 65 and 70 are our most productive workers. They are often the brain trust in organizations. It would be a shame to lose that by farming people out to retirement when we could greatly use their skills, capabilities and experience.

The other aspect of the bill, which will be dealt with at a subsequent time, is the notion we have of the old age security system. It should be focused on the lower to middle income seniors in an effort to save it. As I said before, that money comes from general revenues. As time passes, the demands we will be putting on those general revenues will increase.

We should also ensure that the voluntary component of savings are actually strengthened. For a long time the government has stood by its anachronistic policies that have prevented people from providing for themselves upon retirement.

There are a few solutions. We should abolish the foreign content in RRSPs. There are so many ways for people to bypass the situation that it makes no sense for the government to oblige everybody else to adhere to this anachronistic system. We should double the amount of money people are allowed to put away in their RRSPs. We should allow people to pull out $15,000 tax free from their RRSPs after the age of 60.

There is going to be greater and greater difficulty to provide for a variety of programs, including health care. Why not enable people to provide for themselves which would allow them to pay for those things that they would like to have and which perhaps may be life saving? As a physician, I see that many things that we would like to provide for our patients are not covered. People will be forced to pay for those things themselves. Where will they get the money from?

It would be innovative of the government to allow people over the age of 60 to remove $15,000 from their RRSPs. It would be a godsend to them. It would provide for the things they need, such as food on the table or medication when they get sick. Perhaps it would help provide for their parents who would be in their nineties.

The World Bank said that there are three pillars to a sustainable, reasonable, fair and strong pension system. The first is a tax financed, means tested, minimum pension system. We have that in the OAS/GIS system. The second is an employee based mandatory pension plan. That is the CPP system. The third is private pension plans.

There are five goals for whatever we do. The first is adequacy, so that people who are retired will have enough money in their pockets to provide for themselves. The second is fairness, so that people can retire at a reasonable age and that they will have enough money to provide for themselves. The third is sustainability. Fourth is transparency. Fifth is that the system is efficient, in other words, that we get the greatest percentage and rate of return from the system that we have today.

There is a big change coming and the House is probably going to prorogue. Everybody knows this. This bill may not go anywhere, but I hope that the government listens to the essence of the bill and the intent with which it was introduced in the House. If we do not take seriously the impact of our aging population on our social programs, we will be left with tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of seniors who cannot put roofs over their heads, food on their tables, or pay for their medication when they get sick. What kind of a society will we have if there are so many people who worked so hard for so long for our country and we are not there to help them?

The HRDC website clearly states that our publicly funded pension plans are there as a supplement to our private pension plans.

It is sad to say that until recently with the declining real incomes that Canadians have had, it is the low and middle income seniors who are the most hurt by the government's current regressive tax policies and its regressive policies with respect to pension plans. It cannot continue to take the easy route out simply by trying to increase contributions on the backs of taxpayers, on the backs of employees and think that this is a panacea which in the future will enable seniors to provide for themselves. The facts simply bear out that it is a fallacy.

I looking into the future and see an aging population and a shrinking workforce. That is going to have an impact which is not being acknowledged at this point in time.

The government could easily deal with the concept of mandatory retirement tomorrow. Mandatory retirement is ageism. It is discriminatory. It would be easy for the government to bring in a bill to abolish the mandatory retirement age of 65. Those who would choose to retire at 65 could do so. They would receive the benefits they would normally have, but for heaven's sake, we should give people the opportunity to provide for themselves.

The government should look at the work being done by Dr. David Baxter at Simon Fraser University and the book Boom, Bust & Echo of which Dr. Michael Foot is a co-author. That book and the work that is being done by Dr. Baxter at Simon Fraser provide the specifics and the solutions for the pension problems we will have in the future. They also address the impact on our health care system.

Everybody in the House knows from their personal family experience what will happen in the future. The demands on our health care system and the ability of the public purse to pay for all we ask will create an increasing chasm. More and more people will fall through the cracks to the bottom. More and more people will be unable to get the health care they require. It may be bad today, but it will only get worse in the future.

We in the House across party lines have ideas. Whether or not we have the right ideas is irrelevant, but all of us have ideas that are well meaning and constructive, and which we need to put into the mix. Out of the strong debate that will come from that will be good solutions which the government can act on in order to save our pensions and our health care system.

Everyone here knows of people who cannot get health care today when they need it. We know the pain and suffering they endure. People who are in severe pain are waiting 18 months and longer for hip replacements. There are children who have cancer and cannot get the medication they require because the government is not willing to pay for it. It is not that we do not have medications to treat people, it is that those medications are exceedingly expensive and the public purse is not deep enough to pay for the medications that those people require. That problem is going to get bigger. Rationing will become more extensive and more people, particularly the poor and those in the middle class will be the ones who suffer.

This bill is not about the rich. The rich can take care of themselves. This bill is about the poor and the middle class who will have significantly increasing difficulties in meeting their basic needs in the future. We also know the impact our aging population will have on issues such as housing. A number of people will not have housing. There is the impact of dementias on our health care system. All of these are issues which the government is failing to deal with. The solutions to those problems are out there.

All of us in the House are more than willing to work with the government to deal with these problems that affect all of our constituents. Through you, Madam Speaker, I implore the ministers involved to work to with us. We can pull together the best minds in our country and abroad. In that way we will come up with the best solutions to ensure that our aging population will have their basic needs met. We will not be faced with a sea of seniors suffering incalculable problems that we would prefer not to see.

Canada Pension PlanRoutine Proceedings

April 9th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-428, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (adjusted pension for persons with other income above the level at which the second percentage of income tax applies).

Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest issues affecting Canadians that the House has not dealt with is demographic impact upon our social programs.As our population ages, the demand that will be placed on social programs will make many of them unsustainable in the future.

One of those areas is the CPP. Bill C-428 would enable individuals to work after the age of 65 and collect a graded percentage of their CPP. In other words, at the age of 65 they would collect 40% of their CPP, at 66, 50%, and all the way up to 69, if they so choose to also work and earn money.

In other words, this would encourage people to stay in the workforce. It would encourage them to work and make money, but also would enable them to collect a percentage of that CPP. The benefits? Increasing our workforce and decreasing demands on our CPP, a win-win situation for all concerned.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

April 7th, 2003 / 11:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-343, which started out in February 2002 as Bill C-428.

This bill is intended to remedy a serious problem for those affected by it. The first Citizenship Act, in 1946, specified that a child of minor age automatically lost Canadian citizenship when the custodial parent became a national or citizen of another country. A child born here who would normally have Canadian citizenship lost it because his or her parents became nationals or citizens of another country.

It must be kept in mind that, prior to 1977, dual citizenship was not allowed. Now it is, and has been since 1977. However, when the 1946 legislation was amended, no measure was introduced to correct what might be termed an injustice to the children affected since 1946, because dual citizenship was possible from 1977 on.

The most that is in place in the 1977 legislation is a clause specifying that a person who once had Canadian citizenship may recover it once he or she has been admitted as a landed immigrant and resided in Canada for one full year before applying for citizenship. I would remind hon. members that we are referring here to people who were born with Canadian citizenship but lost it because of a decision by their parent or parents.

It is important to stress that citizenship by naturalization does not comprise exactly the same rights and privileges as that acquired by birth. A naturalized citizen can have his or her citizenship revoked, and can be declared inadmissible, while those born with citizenship cannot.

What I have just said is equally true for Bill C-18, which includes anti-terrorist clauses calling for the revocation of the citizenship of naturalized citizens through recourse to a judicial process including the use of secret evidence. There is no right of appeal and expulsion from the country is automatic.

How many people would be affected by Bill C-343? That is very hard to say. It is even harder to say whether all those affected would want to regain Canadian citizenship.

Some cases have come forward. For example, there is Don Chapman, who testified before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Mr. Chapman, who was born in Vancouver, Canada, found himself in this situation when his parents emigrated to the United States. Therefore, he lost his Canadian citizenship. All his adult life, he has wanted to become a Canadian citizen again.

He applied directly to the then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to ask for special treatment, but to no avail. All he was told was that he had to follow the pre-established rules requiring individuals to apply for permanent residence and live in Canada for one full year before applying for citizenship. However, Mr. Chapman's problem is that he is an airline pilot, which would, according to him, make it difficult for him to fulfill these requirements.

I would add that the current minister, when consulted about another case, answered that he was open to these individuals applying for their citizenship and that each case would be considered individually.

However, in my opinion, this case-by-case approach, which may be the result of good will, runs up against the reality, which is that files are piling up on the desk of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. These files pertain to various matters, such as visas, applications for permanent residence, and so forth. All the members have submitted files to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. These files have been accumulating exponentially on his desk since September 11.

I would like to state that the Bloc Quebecois became very aware of the need to change these provisions. In fact, during a trip to Australia, the member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis—whom I will say hello to now, since she is recovering from a painful triple bypass—met a person from her riding who has to go through the same process as Mr. Chapman, which does not thrill him either.

Therefore, it was on the basis of information provided by the member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis that we in the Bloc began our research to clarify the situation and look at the ways we could modify the law. That is why, after completing this research and after meeting Mr. Chapman herself, the member for Laval Centre proposed an amendment to Bill C-18 to address this problem.

The proposed amendment read as follows:

That the bill, in Clause 19, be amended by adding after line 10 page 13 the following:

And I shall read the exact wording proposed:

The requirements set out in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a person who ceased to be a Canadian citizen as a result of a parent of that person acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country before February 15, 1977.

It seems to me that this would provide retroactive justice to these children who, if they had remained in Canada, would be Canadian citizens. If their parents had acquired another citizenship after 1977, these people also would have been able to keep their Canadian citizenship.

I hope that the government will be sensitive to this need for retroactive justice.

Banking ActPrivate Members' Business

November 21st, 2002 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-229. I begin by congratulating the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve on his persistence. Initially Bill C-229 was Bill C-289 and then Bill C-428.

The bill amends the Bank Act. It provides that certain branches of a bank must take measures to facilitate access to credit to persons who have a residence or a place of business located in an electoral district where the monthly unemployment rate as established by Statistics Canada has been on at least one occasion during the preceding calendar year equal to or higher than the national average.

Furthermore, the bill provides that certain banks must pay 5% of their profits in certain years into a special fund that would be used to lend to people in districts that qualify.

Also, it provides that certain bank representatives under threat of a $50,000 fine must meet with community representatives to discuss implementation measures adopted or associated with community investment.

As well, certain banks are to keep statistics on to whom they lend money and they are to prepare an annual report providing information relating to the community reinvestment initiative. In other words, there are requirements on how the banks operate if these amendments are made to the Bank Act.

Equity in community banking is very important. Reinvestment in the community certainly does help attain the balance needed between local residents and their banks. It is important for financial institutions to meet the local community's credit needs in the form of loans granted to individuals, businesses and community organizations.

The principles espoused by the bill are indeed laudable. The overall goal of achieving equity through community reinvestment by encouraging banks to grant loans to persons living in areas having above average unemployment, by studying the loans granted under the act through a reporting system and showing support to small borrowers within the community is a commendable goal to aspire to.

As previously mentioned, making credit more readily available to areas that for one reason or another may be disadvantaged at a particular time is certainly a worthy cause. This is indeed what the U.S. did when it passed the community reinvestment act.

It is also worthy to note that in the housing sector, the U.S. saw improvements. Since 1993 mortgage loans to Afro-Americans have gone up 47.5%. Mortgages granted to Hispanics have gone up 36%. Mortgages given to low to mid-income earners have risen 22%. These are all excellent statistics.

However, one must be careful before adopting any type of wholesale changes to the Canadian legal system and regime. This is what the bill does. It seeks a U.S. style approach to achieve community equity reinvestment by adopting the U.S. community reinvestment act. Sometimes U.S. style reforms may be good or even welcomed, but one must be cautious of exactly what reforms Canadian amendments attempt to adopt.

As noted, the bill is modelled after the U.S. community reinvestment act. However, the community reinvestment act really is an omnibus bill. A major portion of the U.S. bill that brought in the community reinvestment act also amended the housing and community development act of 1974. Perhaps more important, it extended the urban homes program. The United States at the time was suffering from a substantial crisis in urban decay.

Jointly, the community reinvestment act, the housing and community development act and the urban housing program all combined to produce the increased mortgage numbers.

Obtaining statistics like that is something that can be aspired to, but all the legislative tools have to be in place, not just one or two of them.

When we bake a cake we need all the ingredients. We cannot leave out the flour or the sugar and expect the cake to look like the baker's down the street. However, Bill C-229 in proposing the amendment to the Bank Act may not produce the intended results that were indeed attained in the U.S. because it has left out some of the ingredients.

The real estate and financial service sectors in Canada are vastly different from those in the U.S. The regime involved in the chartering of banks is different. The real estate industry is different. There are different players involved in Canada.

I realize that this amendment is not votable, however, if it were, the proposed legislation would need a little more work done to it. For instance, the legislation would have to be explicit if it was intended to facilitate just business growth or would homeownership through mortgages like the U.S. also be targeted? If granting mortgages was an intended result, then obviously the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation would play a role.

Leaving the mortgage aspect aside, I note that this is the third time the bill has been before the House. As I mentioned earlier, it has a very good goal in mind. However, if it comes to the House a fourth time, there may be some utility in dissecting not only the U.S. community reinvestment act, but also the housing and community development act and the urban housing program to see if any of the provisions found there might be helpful to Canada.

Finally, there are two brief comments that should be made about the bill as a whole. First, in a time when governments should be trying to reduce regulatory red tape and bureaucratic stifling, the bill seems to add a few more components to the already highly regulated banking sector. Meetings must occur and reports must be written with 13 or more components by bank representatives. These reports must be given to the superintendent. The superintendent must give the reports to the minister. The minister must lay the reports before each House of Parliament.

Sometimes reports and meetings are not needed but it is not to say reports would not be needed in these types of situations if this bill were ever passed. However, if legislation of this type were ever votable, then care must be taken to ensure that the statutorily dictated meetings and reports were properly administered.

The last point deals with the offences and penalties section under subsection 627.16 and 627.17.

If requested, the branch of a bank must meet with community representatives who have requested a consultation concerning the assistance the bank is giving to community reinvestment and any implementation measures developed or undertaken by the bank to achieve that reinvestment.

Paragraph 627.16(2) says that any person, and it is assumed that any person means the bank even though it does not say so explicitly, who does not meet, if requested, is liable to a fine not exceeding $50,000. Also, banks could receive $5,000 fines if they do not comply with the reporting requirements. Yet if the banks violate subsection 627.4, which states that the bank shall implement equity community reinvestment, no offence will have been committed.

Therefore, at the end of the day we have this legislation that statutorily directs meetings with community representatives and directs that reports must be written outlining the banks reinvestment strategy, both under threat of substantial fines. However there is no obligation for the banks to actually implement community reinvestment. There is a $5,000 fine for not writing the report that says they did not undertake any community reinvestment measures.

In closing, this might not be the most helpful way to ensure that community reinvestment gets accomplished. As stated before, the goals of the bill are commendable but the drafters have not reasoned it out to the point where it could be seriously adopted in the House.