An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (elimination of deduction from annuity)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Peter Stoffer  NDP

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

Status

Not active, as of April 10, 2006
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act to eliminate the deduction of Canada Pension Plan benefits from the annuity payable under each of these Acts.

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.

Opposition Motion--Canadian ForcesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2006 / noon
See context

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Windsor West.

I am pleased to speak to the motion put forward by the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore. I know my hon. colleague has been working many long years for fairness and justice for working families in his riding and across this country. By bringing forward this motion, which I urge all members of this House to support, we can make sure that Canadian Forces retirees, veterans and their families are treated fairly with respect to their pensions.

This is an important issue across this country and especially in my riding of Vancouver Island North where in the Comox Valley is one of the largest military bases in the country, CFB Comox. I have heard from many of my constituents about this issue, so it is with respect to them and for them that I speak to this motion today.

CFB Comox has brought many military families to the area, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of them and getting to know their families. While they were in the service in this area many made a decision to come back when they retired and live in this spectacular area with its natural beauty and mild climate. The Comox Valley is the southernmost part of my riding. We boast that one can ski all morning on Mount Washington, golf in the afternoon at one of the many world class golf courses, and go for a sail in the evening to enjoy one of our beautiful west coast sunsets.

Because of this natural beauty and the availability of so many outdoor activities, as well as thriving urban areas, many military families have chosen to retire in this area. Just think: there is little or no snow to shovel in the winter and there is no need for air conditioners in the summer because of the cool ocean breezes. Some people might call it paradise. What a wonderful place to retire.

This very important motion seeks to improve the lives of veterans and retired military personnel in five ways:

First, it seeks to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act so that second spouses of Canadian Forces members and veterans have access to pensions upon the death of the member or veteran. I believe the practice of disallowing the second spouse access to the pension is affectionately known, or maybe not so affectionately known, as the “gold digger clause”. It has a long history dating back to the Boer War. My great-grandfather was in that war and many things have changed since then. This practice of disallowing the second spouse access to a pension is insulting and discriminatory. It supposes that anyone marrying a retired Canadian Forces member is only doing it for the money.

The practice of disallowing a survivor pension to women or men who marry retired Canadian Forces members after the age of 60 unfairly penalizes the surviving spouse. Not only does the survivor lose pension benefits, but also health and dental benefits are stripped at a time when they are most needed.

Second, this motion seeks to extend the veterans independence program to all widows of all veterans, regardless of the time of death of the veteran and regardless of whether the veteran was in receipt of VIP services prior to his or her death. This national home care program is so important to maintaining the health and independence of veterans and their spouses. It could be seen as independent living which is something that many people in their senior years require to stay out of hospitals and institutions.

Widows whose husbands have died before 1981 are not eligible, nor are those whose husbands did not receive VIP benefits prior to their death. Again, this is a discriminatory practice. Many of these women have cared for their partners in their homes for many years, assisting them with day to day living, with their daily personal care, saving the health care system thousands of precious dollars while sacrificing their very own lives. I do not think it is too much to ask that when they become eligible for VIP services that they receive them.

Third, this motion seeks to increase the survivor's pension amount upon death of a Canadian Forces retiree to 66% from the current 50%. Why is it, I ask, that survivors of Canadian Forces retirees receive only 50% of superannuation when survivors of other public service workers receive 66%?

This is a sad way to say thank you to the many years of service our military commit to this country. I know that everyone in the House supports our military when they are serving this country so bravely, so why not after they retire? I know that they would want their surviving spouses to be taken care of with respect and dignity and with economic dignity.

This is another example of an outdated, unfair, discriminatory practice whose time has come to an end. It is time to stop treating retired military families as second class citizens. Spouses of Canadian Forces personnel deserve fair access to pension benefits and spousal benefits.

Fourth, this motion put forward by my hon. colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore asks the government to eliminate the unfair reduction of the service income security insurance plan long term disability benefits for medically released members of the Canadian Forces. Under the SISIP LTD, Canadian Forces members are guaranteed 75% of their previous salaries for up to two years if they are disabled in service, but when a former Canadian Forces member receives disability payments from Veterans Affairs or any other money under the Pension Act, SISIP LTD is clawed back. This is another unfairness.

This unfairness places a financial hardship on the disabled member. The Veterans Affairs disability pension should not be considered as income. Disability benefits are to compensate for injuries suffered in the line of duty. I know that disabled members in my riding are finding it hard to make ends meet because of this punitive policy. In the new veterans charter this policy has been eliminated, but those who became disabled prior to the veterans charter still face an offset in their SISIP LTD.

Last, the motion seeks to eliminate the deduction from annuity for retired and disabled Canadian Forces members. This clawback of military and RCMP pension when they receive CPP or CPP disability creates a real financial hardship at a time when they need the most support. Everyone in this House knows that as we age, our health care needs increase.

My colleague has introduced other private members' bills in the past, specifically Bill C-221, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (elimination of deduction from annuity). That is what we are talking about here today.

Veterans groups across the country have been calling on the government to eliminate this clawback of their pensions. I have received many letters from military retirees and members still serving telling me how they feel about this important issue. I would like to share some of those with the House now.

As one member told me:

There is no better Canadian than the men and women who serve and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity in their golden years, and not be penalized at a time when their country feels they can make a quick buck on their backs. At a time when they are living on a fixed income and at a time when they should feel the support of their country not to feel as though they have been wronged by a government who can easily forget their past deeds and services.

This is from another serviceman:

Why are we treated as second class citizens. After 40 years serving Canada in the Military I am denied what I invested in.

The frustration and hurt felt by those people is apparent. They have served this country bravely. They have contributed to our communities during their working lives. They have endured dangerous conditions and long separations from their families. The stresses of these jobs are enormous. These things take a toll on one's physical and mental health.

It is just one more way of showing support for the men and women who serve to make sure they are taken care of in their retirement.

I urge all members of Parliament to support this crucial motion that will do so much for retired military members and their families.

Opposition Motion--Canadian ForcesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2006 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today and join in this very important debate. It is a very timely debate as we quickly approach Veterans' Week here in Canada.

I am going to take a bit of a risk at first and share a quote with the House, not a Canadian quote but a quote from a past U.S. president. The reason I use it is more for the fact that it frames the debate we are having today. It was George Washington who said that a nation will be measured by how in fact that nation shows honour and respect for its war veterans. I think that is what today's debate is about. It is about respect for those who have served the country, those who have answered the call. We enter into that debate today.

As well, I want to recognize my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore and the work that he has done with veterans over a number of years and certainly throughout his time here in the House. I listened with great interest to his presentation to the House earlier when he presented the motion and I fully recognize the emotion expressed during his remarks.

My colleague from Sydney—Victoria is another member of this House who stands on a very similar piece of real estate, whose parents also came from Holland in very similar circumstances, so I know that story very well. As Canadians, many of us understand the sacrifice and understand what a tremendous country we live in, but for those who were impacted, who started their lives here and were provided with opportunity in this great country as a result of Canadian Forces sacrificing so much on foreign soil, it even goes deeper into the understanding of those who have actually lived with it and whose parents have been the benefactors of those actions.

I think the House is united on one thing and that is respect for all veterans and all those who served our country. Last year here in this House, the former minister of defence, in his comments prior to Remembrance Day services, was very poignant in reflecting on the passing of Ernest “Smokey” Smith, Canada's last Victoria Cross recipient. It was very emotional and it was a very important and significant benchmark for veterans in this country. What was identified there certainly came home to me. In my hometown of Glace Bay, we had a Victoria Cross recipient as well, John Bernard Croak. Our Legion in Glace Bay carries the name of John Bernard Croak .

In his comments to the chamber, the former minister spoke about the common thread of “service and heroism” shared by each and every member who steps forward to represent their country and to serve in the Canadian Forces. They share that common thread, and I think each of us here in this chamber can identify those veterans in our communities who, as young people, probably went through the same emotions as Smokey Smith and John Bernard Croak and other heroes. As for what motivated them to answer that call, I think that thread runs through each and every community and every municipality in this country.

The great Canadian tradition of service and heroism continues to be emulated by many young soldiers, the young men and women who continue to serve in our armed forces. There is an inordinate number of people from eastern Canada and the Atlantic provinces who answer that call. We have a disproportionate number of Atlantic Canadians who enlist in the Canadian Forces. I think it goes well beyond economic need. I think it is a true sense of duty, a true sense of wanting to serve this great nation. Certainly Canadians from the Atlantic provinces respond very willingly.

If any member were to read any management book or any coaching book, it would be recognized that what is a prime motivator is neither fame nor fortune. It is not money. It is respect. This is what Bill C-221 is about. That is what today's motion is about. It is about respect. It is about respect for our veterans who have served this great nation.

The NDP motion itself is so broad and far-reaching that we could have a day of debate on each aspect of the motion. A number of these aspects are very complex and impact on other issues. The pension issues are very involved and complex.

However, I was buoyed by my conversations with the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore in that the intent of the motion today is to make sure that these issues are brought forward and put in front of the government for further study, and to make sure that if recommendations are made, they are acted on. It is important that the issues do not die, do not slip onto the back burner. The issues raised in the motion are important to our veterans and to Canadians. Through this motion and the debate in the House today, these issues will be brought forward.

I want to look at each aspect of the motion. I will jump the queue and look at the second point first because it is an issue that is close and personal to me in light of the fact that a champion of the veterans independence program is a constituent of mine. Many members of the House know Joyce Carter's name. I have spoken of Joyce's work and her commitment to the extension of VIP benefits to many Canadians.

As the member said, what we want to see when our veterans retire and get on in years is that they are able to live their lives in comfort and dignity. That really is the essence of the veterans independence program. It allows for some aspects of home care and maintenance, some transportation needs, nutritional services and health support services. Those are the aspects of the VIP that are essential to our veterans.

During the last election campaign, the current Prime Minister, who was then leader of the opposition, went on record to say--and it was part of the Conservative campaign platform--that the veterans independence program would be extended to all veterans of all wars, to Korean veterans, and their spouses, and that there would be a full and immediate extension to cover all these veterans. I want to quote that letter to make sure that it is on the record.

Here is what the Prime Minister said in a piece of correspondence that went to Joyce Carter, this lady from St. Peters in my constituency:

--a Conservative government would immediately--

Let me repeat those words so that all members know:

--a Conservative government would immediately extend Veterans Independence Program services to widows of all Second World War and Korean War veterans regardless of when the veteran died....

That is in writing. That letter was received by Joyce Carter from the member's office. This is something that we had in testimony the other day from veterans from the Korean war. They are advocating this. The Canadian Legion is advocating this. Certainly this is something that we would hope the government will move on. We hope the government will honour its commitment to those veterans. The government extended the promise and put forward the promise and we would hope that the government will do this and do it immediately.

The second aspect would be to amend section 31(1) of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act so that the second spouses of Canadian Forces members and veterans have access to pension rights upon the death of Canadian Forces members or veterans.

This is typically referred to as the “gold diggers clause”. Certainly, it is one that has been discussed on a number of occasions. In past governments, concerns were raised about it. However, I think we are being somewhat hypocritical if we do not support this provision in the motion because MPs or other civil servants are not treated the same as the veterans in this particular situation. We have to weigh that into our decision and ensure that we discuss this important aspect.

An important other aspect to this particular issue, as well, is that it does not affect a whole lot of people. According to DND records, there are only about 141 retirees who have made the choice to remarry and reduce their own monthly pensions so that their spouses can get survivor allowances. So, it is not a great deal of money to the treasury, but it seems to be a great injustice.

I know some throw around the Anna Nicole Smith aspect and ask about what happens if a 92-year-old veteran marries an 18-year-old and we have to pay. All the more power to him if a 92-year-old veteran can marry an 18-year-old; he has something going for him. However, I do not think we can dismiss this aspect of the motion by citing those types of examples. This motion will allow it to come back to committee, so that this can be discussed and we can hang realistic numbers off it and then make the decision from there.

As things change in the military and as the demands on our military change, over the last number of years especially, we are seeing a greater responsibility and a different type of forces. However, in this particular case, when we are looking at the change warranted through this motion, I want to bring to the attention of members a court case that is being waged by Reg Warkentin and his lawyer David Baker. They are arguing that the provision contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Now, this was being pursued under the court challenges program. We know that the court challenges program was just cut and taken away in the last round of cuts made by this government, so probably this court challenge will die, which is truly unfortunate. Nonetheless, it is an important aspect of this motion. Hopefully, each member, when they come to vote on this motion, will entertain this somewhat of an injustice.

I want to go on record with regard to the fifth portion of the motion which deals with the elimination of the deduction from annuity for retired and disabled Canadian Forces members and the clawback. We would need a roomful of actuaries and pension specialists. We can try to boil it down into some simplistic terms, but I do not think it is that simplistic.

We have been understanding for a number of years now that there is an integration between the two programs, the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the CPP, and in fact there is not a clawback.

Hopefully, this will come out over the course of the debate today to indicate to me why that is not so. I recognize that there is a difference. It appears in some cases that the benefit of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act combined with the CPP benefit is slightly less than the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act benefit for the veteran after he became eligible for CPP. Hopefully, that will come out in the debate today.

There are aspects of this motion that make a great deal of sense. I know that we are united in the House in our support for veterans, and what we should be doing and what we can be doing. I know the parliamentary secretary has long been a hard-working and passionate advocate for veterans issues.

Hopefully, in supporting the motion this will further enable a committee and the government to take greater strides, and provide greater support for our veterans and certainly give them the respect and support that they so greatly warrant.

Opposition Motion--Canadian ForcesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2006 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately take the following steps to assist members and veterans of the Canadian Forces and their families:

1. amend Section 31 (1) of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act so that second spouses of CF members and veterans have access to pension rights upon the death of the Canadian Forces member or veteran;

2. extend the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) to all widows of all veterans, regardless of the time of death of the veteran and regardless of whether the veteran was in receipt of VIP services prior to his or her death;

3. increase the Survivor’s Pension Amount upon death of Canadian Forces retiree to 66% from the current amount of 50%;

4. eliminate the unfair reduction of Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) long term disability benefits from medically released members of the Canadian Forces; and

5. eliminate the deduction from annuity for retired and disabled CF members.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour and a pleasure to rise today in the House of Commons on behalf of our leader and our party from coast to coast to coast to have a full day of respectful discussion in this House. There may be some disagreement, but we will have a respectful discussion on veterans and their families. It has been a long time coming for the House to dedicate a whole day to the discussion of those brave men and women who served our country with great distinction, courage and pride over the many years that we have been a country.

I first want to give a brief background on why this is so important to me and to my colleagues within this party and, I am sure, to many colleagues in the House of Commons.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I was born in Holland. My parents and oldest brother were liberated by the Canadian military and its allies, the Americans, the British and the Poles, during the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-45 in World War II.

Shortly after that, my dad was liberated from a work detail camp and came across a Canadian soldier. That Canadian soldier could have been from anywhere in the country. My dad asked him, in his best English, “Why did you come over and help us? Why did Canada do so much to help us?” The young Canadian soldier said, with typical Canadian modesty, “Sir, we had a job to do”. And he walked on.

In 1956, 11 years later, the Dutch government made the decision for the closure of the coal mines where my father had been working in the south of Holland in the province of Limburg over a four to five year period. The only answer in those days for thousands of people and their families was out-migration or, as we say in Dutch, “off you go”, not to another part of the country but to another part of the world.

The choices we had were Rhodesia, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Canada. As my father said to my mother, remembering the military fellow from Canada he met many years before, if Canada has a military like that, imagine what kind of country they have.

So in 1956, at the age of nine months, I, with five brothers and sisters and my mum and dad, came through Pier 21 in Halifax on September 18, 1956. We immediately took a train and settled in the area near Vancouver, British Columbia.

My father taught me right from the get-go about the sacrifices made by Canadians and their allies and by their families who stayed home. It is indeed an honour on behalf of my late father and my mother, who is still with us, and my brothers and sisters and all citizens of the world who were liberated by the Canadians to bring this motion so effectively forward today in the House of Commons.

I encourage all members of Parliament to support the initiatives of this motion. If they have disagreements of any kind on the technicalities, that is fine. Let us bring it to a committee where we can discuss it further so we can improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Of course, the number one item that we wish to talk about briefly is what we call “the clause of marriage past 60”. When we have the privilege of being married to someone for many years, that is a wonderful thing, but sometimes a spouse passes away or the marriage ends in divorce or whatever. If those individuals remarry at 58 or 59, when they pass on later their second spouse is entitled to their pension benefits, but if they remarry at age 60 or beyond, they and their children are not entitled to any benefits. That has to change.

Changing this is something that is supported unanimously by the Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada Association and the National Council of Veterans Associations. I would like to give a tip of the hat to Jack Frost of the Royal Canadian Legion, Mr. Lorne McCartney of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Association, and Cliff Chadderton, a decorated war hero of World War II and a tireless fighter on behalf of all veterans and their families.

The other item is one that should seem very familiar to my Conservative colleagues because their leader, the Prime Minister, actually made this promise. It is the extension of VIP services for all widows and widowers of veterans, regardless of the time of a veteran's death.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you or the people who are listening have had a chance to see the Clint Eastwood movie called Flags of our Fathers. There is a very poignant scene at the beginning of the movie when an elderly war veteran is shaking in his bed, having a nightmare, and shouting out, “Where's Iggy, where's Iggy?” And here I do not mean the current candidate for the Liberal leadership. He is shouting for his friend, who was left on the beaches of Iwo Jima.

The person comforting that veteran is his wife who is elderly. She looks after him in the home and is the primary caregiver of this individual. When the veteran passes on we should not abandon or forget about the caregiver and the spouse who looked after our dedicated heroes.

The extension to the VIP allows individuals to stay in their homes even longer, and that is caring for someone with respect and dignity. In the end, if we want to talk about fiscal arguments, it actually saves the government money. The least we can do is provide housekeeping and groundskeeping services for all veterans and their widows, regardless of the time of death of the individual.

We would also like to talk about the elimination of the SISIP LTD services, the service income security insurance plan, long term disability. When veterans receive this, there is actually a deduction from another form of income. We do not believe that disability payments for our veterans should be taxable. Those should be given to veterans for the service they have done for our country.

The other day the defence ombudsman came out with a report that was very damaging to the government. It basically said that for the Medak Pocket and those who served in Kuwait, veterans' medical records were missing, changed or not there at all. When military personnel serve their country, in sound spirit and body, they need to know that if they return with an injury, either physical or mental, that the government, and especially this Parliament, will look after their needs and the needs of their families. That is extremely important.

What I would like to focus on the most in terms of my discussion is the elimination of the deduction from annuity for retired and disabled veterans. In 1966, when the Canada pension plan was introduced, the pension programs of all federal and provincial public servants, with the exception of members of Parliament and Senators, were blended. They paid a portion of CPP and a portion of superannuation and when they reached the age of 65 they received their superannuation of, for argument's sake, $2,500 a month from the Canadian Forces. They then would receive their Canada pension plan at age 65. However, the amount they received from CPP, which, for argument's sake, we will say was $700, was deducted from their superannuation. We believe that needs to change.

The arguments we get from governments, the previous one and the current one, is that they never paid enough into their programs to qualify for both. That is simply not correct. The reality is that these veterans in 1966 and 1967 never had an opportunity to even debate this. This was done without consultation with them. What cost do we put into people who serve our country with courage and distinction?

Veterans pay into the superannuation, the Canada pension plan, and the EI program and yet at age 65 they end up collecting just one. We are saying that if at age 65 they can collect their superannuation and a reduced CPP, because everyone can collect CPP at age 60, they already lose one-third of their CPP benefits. Therefore, if their superannuation pension is, for argument's sake, $2,500 a month and their Canada pension is $500 a month, they get to collect them both. There is no deduction. The deduction happens at age 65 which is when they need the money the most. These are elderly men and women. They do not need to be clawed back as we say or the official term is a benefit reduction.

I personally want to thank the following three individuals from my riding who came to me a year and a half ago on this very same issue: Mr. John Labelle, Mr. Roger Boutin and Mr. Mel Pittman, three ex-servicemen who served their country with distinction. They asked me if there was anything that could be done to raise this issue in the House of Commons, such as introducing a private member's bill or something to address this issue. We have done that in the form of Bill C-221. Their website has over 82,000 individual names of ex-servicemen and current service personnel, who are serving or have served, who support the initiative.

We would also like to see this to eventually include all RCMP officers who not only serve our country mostly at home but also overseas sometimes. They serve with great pride and distinction and we should not ignore the services of our RCMP officers as well.

The Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada Association and the Royal Canadian Legion have supported this endorsement. We are looking at hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country who want this issue revisited. They want it addressed and they would like it done now.

On a more personal note, a good friend of mine, Mr. Reid Myers of Fall River, Nova Scotia, was a liberator of the Netherlands. He is now 83 or 84 years old and his wonderful, beautiful wife, Marion, is his prime caregiver. I would like everyone in the House to look at veterans, or maybe someone in their own family, in terms of their sunset years, as we call them, their golden years, look at them straight in the face and say that we cannot do any of these things.

We should ask these veterans about their younger days when they joined the services and went overseas to fight for peace, freedom and democracy. Did they question how much it cost? Did they question the technicalities of legislation in the House of Commons? No, they did not. At that time they went overseas for King and country. They knew they had a job to do and they did it voluntarily. These veterans are our greatest heroes and Canada's greatest volunteers.

As Rick Mercer once said, if we are going to take the very best of Canada and move them into the worst parts of the world in war and conflict, we might as well give them the gold card. It is the least that they deserve.

As well, when they come back and they suffer through various disabilities, mental challenges or old age, we should be looking after them. That is the time to ensure that all services and all support programs adequately meet their needs, and there should not be any hesitation on that. We have the fiscal capacity to do it and it is time to restore economic dignity to the men and women of our services and the men and women who look after our brave veterans. We believe that is the minimum we should do.

We will all soon be gathered at cenotaphs and monuments around the country and, in many cases, around the world. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we will be bowing our heads in respect, honour and dignity of those who have passed on. Over 117,000 Canadian men and women, who are buried in over 70 countries around the world, have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We call that day Remembrance Day.

I remind the House of the parents of Nathan Smith, of Braun Woodfield and of Paul Davis. Those are just 3 of the recent 42 Canadian service personnel who were killed in Afghanistan. For their parents, their brothers and sisters, their other relatives and their friends and family, Remembrance Day is every day for them. They live with that every day and the least we can do in the House of Commons for those young men and women who gave us the greatest gift of all, an unfinished life, is to give them the respect and dignity they deserve for their ultimate sacrifice. Their sacrifice allowed us, you and I, Mr. Speaker, and my colleagues in the House of Commons, to come here in a democratic way and discuss our differences in a parliamentary fashion .

Our freedoms do not come cheap. These brave young men and women know that. They have the ultimate liability when they sign on the dotted line. We, as members of Parliament, should have the ultimate responsibility and not just to the time when they wear the uniform. Our responsibility carries on all the way through their natural lives, including that of their families.

I will give the previous government and the current government credit, along with other members of Parliament from all parties who have passed along the new veterans charter that was enacted in April of this year. The charter will go a long way in addressing some of the issues that some veterans have, along with their families.

However, as in all legislation, it does not go far enough. The five points that my party has addressed today would go a long way in addressing many of the issues that have been brought to the attention of all members in the House of Commons. I do not believe there is one member of Parliament in the House who has not had a veteran, a current armed forces personnel, the spouse of a veteran or the children of a veteran come to them with an issue regarding the military or veterans affairs.

Everyone in the House supports the troops. What the motion asks is that we support them even longer, right to the end of their natural lives, including that of their spouses. If we do this, we will be truly saying on Remembrance Day that we honour them and we respect them. We know for sure that this House can work in a cooperative fashion in doing something that we should all agree with without hesitation.

The fact is that these are our bravest Canadians. They are the ones who lost their lives so we could live in peace, freedom and democracy. Just maybe there is a little kid somewhere in another country who looks up at a Canadian soldier and says the same thing that my father said in 1944, “if they have a military like that, imagine what kind of country they come from”.

This is the type of image that our Canadian military men and women have around the world. This is the image of our veterans when we see them standing in the cold at the cenotaphs and memorials on November 11 from coast to coast to coast or when we see them in the hospitals if they have become shut-ins and cannot make it out.

I know many veterans who stay at home, put their medals on and then watch the ceremonies that take place here in Ottawa on TV. We all know that the men and women of the military and the veterans wear their medals with pride and distinction. They wear their medals because of service to their country but, most important, they wear them because of their friends and comrades who never had the chance to wear theirs.

When we see these veterans and the current armed forces personnel and their families, we should shake their hands, give them a hug and say thanks or merci beaucoup for the services they have provided.

We know all too well what happened to many veterans when they returned from the wars. We know exactly what happened with our aboriginal veterans. Many of them were not treated with the greatest of respect. We know that these things are slowly changing but we are hoping this particular resolution will move things even faster with the cooperation of members of the House of Commons.

I may be a little emotional on this but it is because everything I have, everything my parents were able to do and everything my brothers and sisters have has been because we moved to Canada. Canada gave us everything. God has blessed my mom and dad and my family and they have blessed this country. Canada has been blessed with Canadian soldiers, Canadian airmen, Canadian merchant mariners and Canadian navy personnel and their families who gave us and still give us the greatest gift of all. The least we can do in this House of Commons is to honour them and look after them in their final years. We need to ensure that when they become injured in any capacity that Canada will look after them. We must not argue about technicalities, legislative concerns or whatever. This is the minimum we can do.

I know some members in this House have served in our services and for that I respect and honour them. I know everyone in this House of Commons will stand proud with our veterans on Remembrance Day but we must remember that for them Remembrance Day is every day.

The NDP is proud of the five points that we have filed in our motion today on behalf of all veterans and service personnel. We believe it is fair, respectful and balanced. As we say in various cenotaphs throughout the country on November 11, at the going down of the sun we will remember them.

Canadian Forces Superannuation ActRoutine Proceedings

April 10th, 2006 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-221, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (elimination of deduction from annuity).

Mr. Speaker, this is a repeat of a bill I introduced in 2004. The bill would stop the clawback of the pensions of those military and RCMP officers, who serve our country so well, at age 65. As the House knows, when those people reach the age of 65 their Canada pension is clawed back from their superannuation. As well, those who become disabled have their CPP disability clawed back from their superannuation.

We think that is wrong. These people serve our country with gallantry and with great effort and we think it is time that we left a little more money in their pockets when they retire at 65.

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