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An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

Part 1 of this enactment amends the Canada Pension Plan to, among other things,

(a) increase the amount of the retirement pension, as well as the survivor’s and disability pensions and the post-retirement benefit, subject to the amount of additional contributions made and the number of years over which those contributions are made;

(b) increase the maximum level of pensionable earnings by 14% as of 2025;

(c) provide for the making of additional contributions, beginning in 2019;

(d) provide for the creation of the Additional Canada Pension Plan Account and the accounting of funds in relation to it; and

(e) include the additional contributions and increased benefits in the financial review provisions of the Act and authorize the Governor in Council to make regulations in relation to those provisions.

This Part also amends the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act to provide for the transfer of funds between the Investment Board and the Additional Canada Pension Plan Account and to provide for the preparation of financial statements in relation to amounts managed by the Investment Board in relation to the additional contributions and increased benefits.

Part 2 makes related amendments to the Income Tax Act to increase the Working Income Tax Benefit and to provide a deduction for additional employee contributions.

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.

Votes

Nov. 30, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Nov. 29, 2016 Passed That Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
Nov. 29, 2016 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
Nov. 17, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
Nov. 17, 2016 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, because it: ( a) will take more money from hardworking Canadians; ( b) will put thousands of jobs at risk; and ( c) will do nothing to help seniors in need.”.
Nov. 17, 2016 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
Nov. 15, 2016 Failed That the amendment be amended by adding after the words “seniors in need” the following: “; and ( d) will impede Canadians’ ability to save for the future.”.

Business of the HousePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

November 30th, 2016 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to challenge our moving to the orders of the day this early in routine proceedings, a procedure that seems to be used habitually by the government when it is poised to close debate on important issues.

In this case, the government has already limited debate on the third reading stage of Bill C-26, which is scheduled today. One day is the minimum number of of days that can be allotted under the Standing Orders, and the government House leader chose as that one day, the shortest day in our calendar. I will not take up more of the House's time on that point before I get back to my procedural intervention, but I do want to say one thing. The House expected more than a minimal effort from this so-called new tone government House leader and we are very disappointed.

Back in the spring, the government moved and adopted motions to proceed to the orders of the day four Wednesdays in a row, skipping over all rubrics of routine proceedings. That was done on April 20, May 4, May 11, and May 18. Most recently, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons moved such a motion on Thursday, November 17, and today the government is proposing to do it again for the sixth time.

I would argue that the government House leader is continuing where her predecessor left off in misusing this procedure. I refer to a Speaker's ruling on April 14, 1987. In his ruling on a similar matter, the Speaker stated:

Routine Proceedings are an essential part of House business and if they are not protected the interests of the House and the public it serves are likely to suffer severely.

He referred to a ruling of November 24, 1986, in which a motion having the effect of superseding a number of items under routine proceedings was inappropriate and excessive and was disallowed. However, the circumstances on April 14, 1987, were dramatically different and the Speaker allowed the government to move its motion.

I will compare those circumstances to today's circumstances and let you, Mr. Speaker, and the House draw its own conclusions. The Speaker observed that the opposition was significantly obstructing the progress of Bill C-22. He noted that seven divisions took place prior to the introduction of the bill, most of them resulting from the moving of dilatory motions under routine proceedings. Fourteen more divisions, with most of them again resulting from the moving of dilatory motions during routine proceedings, took place before the bill reached second reading on December 8, 1986. The bill was referred to committee and reported back to the House on March 16, 1987, after 24 meetings and 82 hours of debate. Numerous amendments were proposed at report stage and the House debated those amendments for four days.

On April 7, the minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs gave notice of time allocation. Unlike the opposition in 1987, we have negotiated openly and honestly with the government. Since this Parliament began, only two dilatory motions have been moved by the opposition. In contrast, five such motions have been advanced by the government. Today will be the sixth. The Speaker in 1987 noted that in the British House of Commons, the Speaker has the power to refuse a dilatory motion if he believes it to be an abuse of the rules of the House. He also noted that the Speaker is empowered to allow them if he believes they are justified.

In comparing Bill C-22 in 1987 and any bill the Liberal government has proposed to the House in this Parliament, the opposition has not given the current government justification to proceed in this manner. The scale of obstruction in 1987 was extreme according to any standard, and only under those circumstances was the government permitted to move its motion. The government should not be allowed to routinely skip over all rubrics during routine proceedings without just cause.

As Speaker Fraser pointed out, routine proceedings are an essential part of House business and they should be protected as a vital component that serves the interests of the House and the public. There is no moral ground or rational reason here for the government to proceed in this manner. Speaker Fraser, in his 1987 ruling, added:

It is essential to our democratic system that controversial issues should be debated at reasonable length so that every reasonable opportunity shall be available to hear the arguments pro and con and that reasonable delaying tactics should be permissible to enable opponents of a measure to enlist public support for their point of view.

Clearly, the 1987 case involving Bill C-22 demonstrated unreasonable delaying tactics. This House has never seen such delaying tactics, and the government has never experienced this sort of sideshow from the opposition. The government's problems are self-inflicted and are not due to the opposition. The government has had the privilege of working with a generally co-operative opposition in this Parliament and has frittered away that goodwill. It has foolishly squandered it through its mismanagement of the House, mean-spirited tactics, and its minimalist efforts to make Parliament work.

While the government house leader was marketed as new, we now discover that we did not get “new and improved”.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you consider my arguments and not allow the government to move its motion to proceed to the orders of the day until it has at least demonstrated that an unreasonable obstruction has taken place.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2016 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague spoke about the Liberal government's eagerness to hear what all Canadians have to say about the enhancements. However, once again today, the government has denied the opposition an opportunity to express its views. These are actually the views of the people who elected us to send a message to the government concerning its intentions with respect to Bill C-26.

This is the ninth time that the Liberal government has used time allocation since the beginning of this Parliament, and since it adopted its sunny ways. It was supposedly going to do things differently. However, it is now obvious that the Liberals do not like to listen to other points of view when they differ from their own and oppose the measures they want to adopt.

Does my colleague approve of the rather brutal way in which the government is muzzling members of the House in order to pass its bill?

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2016 / 4:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to pursue the question of my hon. friend from Windsor—Tecumseh to the hon. parliamentary secretary. I bemoan the fact that as we are now using time allocation for Bill C-26, one thorny point has not been adequately explained in this place.

I am looking for evidence that would tell me what happens with the drop-off provisions and how they will affect women, lower-income women, the ability to save for retirement, and taking time off for child rearing or illness.

Overall, Bill C-26 is a big step forward in expanding the Canada pension plan, but would the hon. member help me to see why the government has refused to accept what appeared to me to be reasonable amendments?

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2016 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in this House to represent my constituents in Flamborough—Glanbrook, all Canadians, and all taxpayers in this country, particularly on this bill.

Today, we begin and end a third reading debate on Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada pension plan, legislation that I must oppose most vigorously for a number of reasons.

I must express that it is truly unfortunate the government has chosen to shut down debate to less than 90 minutes through its use of closure. This heavy-handed draconian approach is wrong-headed, which are pretty much direct quotes from my Liberals colleagues from the past Parliament, as members on this side of the House have a wide range of legitimate concerns that have gone unaddressed through the committee stage. These concerns should not be just read into the record but should actually provide pause to the government.

Unfortunately, the government is determined to ram this legislation through this chamber without any consideration for the consequences to so many responsible Canadians and small business owners. Bill C-26 expands the Canadian pension plan over the next 40 years in an effort to alleviate the financial burden of retired seniors, particularly those facing poverty.

I believe working toward the improvement of the lives of seniors is always a worthy endeavour. After all, they are the ones who built this country and made it great. However, where we profoundly differ from the members opposite is in how this is to be accomplished. In my view, these changes should have been more sufficiently studied and debated so that we do not trade one problem for another.

The bill mandates an increase in CPP premiums, a cost shared between employers and employees, to the tune of up to $2,200 per year. For families who already have to stretch their dollars in order to balance their household budget, these proposed measures will limit their ability to put money aside to save for their child's education, to purchase a new minivan, or to plan a much-needed vacation.

As an aside, neither the Minister of Finance nor the Prime Minister, both sons of millionaires, which in and of itself is not an issue, have had to make sacrifices to balance their household budgets, yet these are the masterminds behind Bill C-26, which will quite literally take money from the paycheque of every hard-working Canadians.

What is also very concerning is that the introduction of this bill, and its corresponding tax increase, comes at the same time that the government is imposing a carbon tax, which will drive up the price of everything. Under the carbon pricing scheme, residents in my constituency of Flamborough—Glanbrook will face higher fuel prices to make their morning commutes to work, and at the same time the price of everything from local produce to the costs of flights out of the Hamilton airport will go up. Perhaps most concerning is that the carbon tax will also increase the price of home heating. For my constituents, that is hard to fathom. Families young and old in my community are already tapped out. They can ill-afford the increased costs that are coming under the Prime Minister's carbon tax.

If the timing of two taxes is not bad enough, I must remind the House that Bill C-26 also comes at a time of massive deficit spending. As members know, deficits are simply the taxes of tomorrow. The government is borrowing billions of dollars and has not articulated a plan that would see the budget return to balance. This reality creates further uncertainty and concern for Canadians, because they know that in order to bring the budget into balance the government will either have to slash programs, raise taxes, or both. All of these initiatives come at a time when in my home province of Ontario energy prices are going through the roof. The experience of living under the Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne has taught my constituents to be skeptical of flashy new proposals that would see the long arm of government reach further into their pocket and take even more of their hard-earned money.

However, the concerns about Bill C-26, this CPP tax hike, go further than just bad timing. There is also significant concern that the bill effectively hinders the choice of Canadians as to how they save for their retirement. As a result, Canadians who are proactively saving for their future will be forced to invest more into CPP and less into the savings vehicle of their choice. Thanks to our previous Conservative government, Canadians now have an unprecedented number of savings options. Let us take, for example, the tax-free savings account that was implemented and then expanded. These accounts allow Canadians to save for large expenditures or for retirement with no strings attached. The money is available when it is needed, and the interest is accumulated tax-free. I would point out that, by far and away, it is middle-income Canadians who are making the greatest use of TFSAs. Plus, there are other ways to build up a nest egg. Some folks invest in the housing market, others store money away in RRSPs, while others contribute to a workplace pension plan or a pooled registered pension plan, which is yet another savings vehicle brought in by the previous Conservative government.

There is a wide spectrum of savings options available to Canadians who wish to supplement their retirement income and yet the CPP tax hike found in Bill C-26would limit the ability of Canadians who take the initiative to save on their own.

Take for example a single-income family with a couple of kids. One of the parents goes to work to bring home the proverbial bacon while the other parent stays at home to tend to the needs of the children. They pay to put a roof over their heads, food on the table, and clothes on their backs. They put gas in the tank, heat their home, put their kids into sports, and give to charity. If the money is there, they may splurge on a date night and enjoy a nice meal in a restaurant. And of course they pay their taxes. Once all the bills are paid the bit that is left over could be put into a savings vehicle, but under Bill C-26 that bit left over does not make it into a TFSA but rather is taken off their paycheque and is forced to be invested into the CPP. Rather than having that money available to them for their car or for the car repairs, the family will have to take on more debt, making it even tougher to cover their cost of living by the time the next month's bills arrive. At the very least, Bill C-26 limits choice. At the worst, it may contribute to a cycle of debt by skimming too much off the top.

Bill C-26 would not just impact modest-income families. It would also take the choice away from Canadians who save for their retirement and wish to leave their accumulated wealth behind for loved ones after they pass away.

I have served in this place for more than a decade now and over the course of my tenure as a member of Parliament many seniors have discussed their priorities with me. I have heard many seniors say two things as they plan for the end of their life: first, they hope not to be a financial burden to their family and second, if possible they would like to leave some of their savings behind for their loved ones. In Canada we have a retirement system that allows them to accomplish these goals.

Our retirement system is the envy of the world. Retired seniors have access to old age security, the CPP, and a raft of savings options that I mentioned earlier. After those sources of income, if seniors are still facing financial difficulty, the guaranteed income supplement is there to top up their income. Thanks to the Conservative government in the last session of Parliament, they could even make a good sum of money without it being clawed back.

Further, those who want to look at the data or parse the numbers should consider the following. Eighty-three per cent of households are on track to maintain their current living standards in retirement, according to a study done by McKinsey & Company. Statistics Canada shows us that the share of Canadian seniors living on low income has dropped from 29% in 1970 to 3.7% today. These facts demonstrate that the vast majority of Canada's seniors are able to save enough to have a dignified retirement and cover their end-of-life costs and are able to meet their goal of passing on some of their earnings when their time comes.

One of my core critiques of the CPP is that the money invested by an individual contributor cannot be accessed by a surviving family member. By forcing Canadians to increase their contributions to the CPP, they will have less money to put into savings vehicles that give them the choice to will their savings to their loved ones. It is no surprise then that fewer than 20% of Canadians surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that they would opt to put more of their savings into the CPP.

Back in the 1960s when the Liberal government of the day introduced CPP, minister Judy LaMarsh, who was responsible for establishing the program, had this to say about the intent of CPP, that it “is not intended to provide all the retirement income which many Canadians wish to have. This is a matter of individual choice and, in the government’s view, should properly be left to personal savings and private pension plans.”

Canadians who work hard for their money should be able to save in the way they choose and should be trusted to plan for their futures. Not only is Bill C-26 ill-timed and strips responsible Canadians of choice of their savings, it also negatively impacts small business.

As a former small business owner I have first-hand knowledge and experience of what it takes to battle the red tape and the cost of living to make sure that costs stay low in business. For small businesses it is going to be a choice of whether they continue to hire or invest in their business, having to deal with this expanded CPP tax. Two-thirds of all small firms say they will have to freeze or cut salaries and over one-third say they will have to reduce hours or jobs in their business in response to the CPP hike.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2016 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Flamborough—Glanbrook for the opportunity to share his time today. allowing me to make some remarks on Bill C-26.

I rise today to add my voice to the many others who have grave concerns about Bill C-26, and the Liberal plan to further erode the disposable income of hard-working Canadians and its negative impact on job creators.

Every member of Parliament in the House cares about the well-being of seniors. I believe each and every one of us wants to implement policies that will improve the quality of life of Canadians, while also balancing out the costs associated with those changes.

Over the past 50 years, there have been numerous policies introduced with the aim of assisting Canadians in preparing for retirement, changes such as the introduction of the Canada pension plan, old age security, the guarantee income supplement, registered retirement savings plans, and our previous Conservative government's landmark decision to implement tax-free savings accounts.

Through various governments of different political stripes, great improvements have been made, and the poverty level of seniors has dropped dramatically. According to Statistics Canada, the share of Canadian seniors living on low incomes has dropped from 29% in 1970 to 3.7% today, which is among the lowest in the world.

I believe it is vitally important we recognize that the CPP was originally introduced in 1965. When it was introduced, it was a much different world than we live in now. Many families had to get by with only one source of income, and gender inequalities were far too common. Millions of seniors lived in poverty, and many communities did not have affordable housing options for those who struggled to get by. Probably one of the most significant differences was the lack of financial literacy and the available savings vehicles that are now offered by the private sector.

In 2016, millions of Canadians have opened their own tax-free savings account, or have invested in mutual funds or the stock market through online trading brokerages. I am pleased that Canada's saving rate has climbed from 7.7% in 1990 to 14.1% today. This is a testament of how investing money and saving for retirement is at the top of people's priorities.

According to the Fraser Institute, the vast majority of Canadians are putting enough aside for retirement. In a document published by the institute, Canadians now hold $9.5 trillion in assets above and beyond CPP.

While the Liberals think they have the best of intentions, their policies to date have not grown the economy. They have put jobs at risk, and Canadians are worse off today than before the Liberals took office. Canadians cannot trust the government with their pensions. The Liberals have not been able to keep promises they made a year ago, let alone ones they are making for decades down the road.

What the legislation before us signifies is that the Liberal government does not trust Canadians with their own money. It is awfully rich to force Canadians to control their spending when the Liberals have moved past their own deficit projections to the tune of billions of dollars. I can assure the Liberal government that millions upon millions of Canadians are being responsible with their own money and do not need to take lessons from my hon. colleagues across the aisle.

A study by McKinsey & Company has found that 83% of Canadian households are on track to maintain their current living standards in retirement. Now 83% is not 100%, but it does not justify the punitive measures being proposed in Bill C-26.

Before the government moves any further with Bill C-26, it should stop assuming that Canadians are as spend happy as its own Liberal finance minister. Perhaps it is time for legislation to force the Liberal government to stop putting Canada's future generations at risk. That is legislation I could support.

I believe it is wrong to force Canadians to put more of their hard-earned dollars into a government-controlled pension plan rather than allowing them the flexibility to make their own investment decisions. We have a good balance in place, and it should be upheld until such time that evidence suggests otherwise.

If the legalisation before us passes as written, it will literally take money out of the wallets and purses of hard-working Canadians and their employers. In fact, it is very possible that some households will be paying up to $2,200 more per year when the changes are fully implemented.

While the Liberals pontificate about their middle-class tax cut, most of the savings will be eaten up through this CPP tax hike alone. This does not include the carbon tax, which will be unilaterally imposed on provinces and taxpayers in the years to come.

It baffles my mind that Liberals want to force Canadians to put more money into CPP, while at the same time eroding people's investing power into investments of their own choosing. It seems like an oxymoron to me.

I can assure the government that any reputable financial adviser would be able to provide a far more significant return than the government-run pension plan. It is projected that any Canadian who was born after 1972 can expect a real rate of return from the CPP of only 2.1%. Regardless of how well the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board does, the next generation of Canadians had better not be planning on a CPP bonanza due to its rate of returns.

Moreover, Bill C-26 is just another attack on Canadians who do their own financial investments. It is an attack on those who want nothing to do with putting more money into their CPP, as they like the current system. They resent the fact that their government thinks it can do better in saving money than themselves. As we all remember, it was just last year the Liberals clawed back people's tax-free savings accounts and limited the amount of money that could be invested without paying capital gains taxes.

While it is true that some Canadians are not financially prepared for retirement, we on this side of the House do not think that a payroll tax hike is the best or sustainable approach to assist those most in need. The reason why many Canadians are not financially prepared for retirement has nothing to do with the CPP itself, but is due to the fact that they do not have employment or are underemployed. The best way for the government to help Canadians prepare for retirement is to create the right economic environment for the creation of new high-paying jobs.

One of the loudest and most vocal critics of this payroll tax hike has been the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. It has repeatedly asked for the government to apply the brakes, as 70% of small business owners disagree with the notion that this CPP increase is modest as the government suggests it is.

For many small and medium-sized businesses, this legislation would cost them thousands of dollars each and every year. It has the potential to further slow our economic growth, while doing nothing to help those most in need. As I stated, a CPP increase will not help Canadians without a job.

An analysis by the C.D. Howe Institute shows that the Liberals' CPP plan would not benefit low-income workers. While their CPP payments would go up, it would be offset by clawbacks in their GIS benefits.

This is the classic Liberal two-step: give one dollar in the left pocket and take one out from the right. This is why I am very skeptical, as are many Canadians, that the Liberal carbon tax will be revenue neutral. Looking at new innovative ways to assist Canadians to save, such as the tax-free savings account and improving financial literacy, are tangible benefits that are proven to yield results.

Far too often, the government brings out a stick when a carrot would suffice. Levelling a job-killing payroll tax hike, which would reduce employment and Canada's GDP, is quite frankly asinine in today's economic turbulence. Payroll taxes, carbon taxes, small business taxes, and burdensome red tape are hindrances to job creation, to name only a few of the Liberals' regressive acts.

It is abundantly clear the government has no plan for the economy. It is even more worrisome to see it plunge Canada back into deficit, while at the same time its deficit spending has failed to spur our economy. There is little justification that would result in such a heavy-handed approach.

There are alternative ways to assist those who need it the most, and the Liberals showed that when they copied our Conservative move and increased guaranteed income supplements. I should note also that the Liberals ran on a pledge to review the consumer price index, which is used to calculate inflation. There are many other ways to help Canadians save for retirement than forcing through a one-size-fits-all approach.

I will never vote for legislation that financially hurts Canadians. No matter the size of the bow wrapped around this change in policy, it still remains a tax hike. Bill C-26 would not help our most vulnerable seniors in need. It would not create new jobs or grow the economy. It is the wrong approach to take. I call upon my Liberal colleagues to stand up for what is right and oppose the legislation before its impact financially hurts their constituents.

The reason so many of my Conservative colleagues have spoken to this bill, and more would do so if closure had not been moved, is that it is necessary to try, as responsible opposition, to influence the importance of cancelling the bill to the Liberal members for the reasons I have just articulated.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2016 / 4:55 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, as the debate winds up, it is important to recap that in Bill C-26 we are debating the ability of today's generation of workers to have adequate retirement money through the CPP, one of the fundamental pillars of our social pension programs. The CPP, the OAS, and our guaranteed income supplement are things that Canadians truly believe in. The government has demonstrated very clearly over the last number of months that it supports Canadians in a very solid fashion, whether through budgetary motions, regulatory changes, or now with respect to the CPP. The changes to the CPP took a great deal of effort, working with the different stakeholders so we could arrive at this bill today.

Would the member not recognize that in order to have a holistic approach to dealing with the seniors of today and tomorrow, it is in the best interests of all Canadians that we pass this bill?

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2016 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, and I thank my colleagues for allowing this.

I rise in the House today to speak at third reading of Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act.

In my remarks on Monday, I focused on how we in the NDP have found a mistake in the bill and our attempts to fix it. I described how the government had failed to include important provisions that would protect workers whose incomes are reduced because they take time to raise their kids and those whose incomes are reduced because of a disability.

The government either forgot to include those provisions or excluded them on purpose. We are not sure which it is. There are differing opinions on this matter. I must say that the government has been completely unwilling to shed any light on this matter. Government members have intentionally spoken around the issue, using the lines that have been written for them. I think many of them really do not know the answer. Only the minister knows the answer, and he has been the most unclear in his comments of any member on the other side of the House.

I then went on to describe the attempts by the NDP to get the government to fix the bill. Members on both sides of the House know the bill is flawed and needs to be fixed. We were encouraging members on the other side of the House to go to committee to fix the bill. We worked hard with the legislative counsel, and we developed the clauses and the language needed to put the necessary drop-out provision in the bill to fix the problem.

It is an easy fix via just two amendments and less than two pages of language that would protect those who take time off for child-rearing, mostly women, and those living with disabilities. What happened at committee was a real eye-opener to me. The Liberal members of the committee were whipped hard to shut down any attempts to amend and fix the legislation.

Even though we know that some of them understand that the bill was flawed and needed to be fixed, they all lined up and supported the use of procedural tricks to shut down debate, not once, but twice. They should be ashamed, and I truly think some of them are. The Liberals then had a chance to fix the flaw themselves when the bill came back to the House at report stage. However, the government made it very clear they it no intent or interest in doing that.

Here we now are at third reading of a bill that is still flawed, with the rights of women and those living with disabilities still in question. This leads me to talk about where we go from here. Once we pass this legislation into law, will the problems we have identified ever get fixed? Will provisions that protect women and the disabled ever get included in the legislation? That is unclear, and it is making our continued support of this bill very difficult.

We will vote for it at third reading because the CPP needs to be changed, as we have fought for a long time, alongside our friends in the labour movement, to have the government increase benefits for retirees. However, we are very concerned about the government's supposed commitment to fix the legislation after the fact. We have heard in the House that the government needs to get the agreement of the provinces.

Last week we heard the following from the President of the Treasury Board:

We are aware that more could be done in respect of the dropout provisions for disability and child rearing and, in fact, the Minister of Finance will raise these provisions at the next meeting of the provincial and territorial finance ministers in December in the context of a triennial review of the CPP.

Then the next day we heard this from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance:

Our intent is to pass the bill, as is; however, the Minister of Finance will then raise the dropout provisions at the next provincial and territorial finance ministers' meeting in December, in the context of the triennial review of the Canada pension plan.

Also last week we heard from the finance minister 's director of communications that:

We’re aware that more could be done with respect to drop-out provisions for disability and child rearing to make sure that this expansion is as inclusive as possible.... However, in order to make any changes to the plan we need agreement from the provinces.

He continued that the finance minister would bring up the omission when he meets with his provincial counterparts in December to review CPP, a routine process that occurs every three years.

Canadians need to note the lack of a clear commitment shown in these quotes. Saying the minister will raise or bring up the omissions is certainly no commitment. How hard would the minister push the provinces to fix the bill and include the missing provisions? We do not know the answer to that. I was hoping to hear a more clear-cut commitment from the minister this week. However, that commitment does not seem to be forthcoming. If anything, the most recent spin makes me think the government is spinning away from any commitment at all.

When the minister was asked yesterday by one of my colleagues if he would fix the bill, he would not even address the question. Instead, we got the most shallow spin possible. This is all the finance minister would say on the matter:

What we also recognize is that there will always be opportunities for continued improvement. Our job, in working together with the provinces, is to move forward on this agreement and then to consider other ways we can improve the Canada pension plan in the future to ensure that the retirement health of Canadians is always provisioned for.

Those are very inspiring words, but hardly a commitment to fixing the problem caused by the omission of the dropout provision in this bill.

What concerned me even more were the comments made by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands yesterday during debate, when she said:

On the evidence we have before us, it appears that the bill will disadvantage women for no apparent reason other than an oversight. I did have a brief moment to discuss this with the Minister of Finance earlier this morning, and his position is that to do what the NDP asks now would result in a transfer of wealth from poorer women to wealthier women because of the way the calculation works. Unfortunately, I do not have the full facts on this.

We do not have the full facts on this, either. I told the minister that, when he tried to spin me with the same argument in the hallway after question period yesterday. I also told him that the argument makes no sense at all. In fact, I think the inverse is probably true, given that the elimination of the childbearing dropout for the additional benefit would presumably penalize lower and modest-income mothers, since women in higher-income households are better able to adjust.

Besides, the argument fails to take into consideration that the CPP is basically an insurance plan into which people pay benefits. Raising benefits at one level does not mean having to reduce benefits at another level. Surely, someone qualified to be the finance minister of Canada should know this.

I also have to wonder where the minister came up with the calculations he says his argument is based on. We have been told all along that no costing of the dropout provisions has ever been done. Where did the numbers come from? If the minister has numbers, will he share them with us? Will he share them with Canadians?

I fear that the finance minister's proactive spin in this argument may be our best indication yet of the government's spinning away from any commitment to fixing the dropout provision mistake.

What Canadians need is a clear-cut commitment from the finance minister. We need to know that he intends to come away from the December meeting with his provincial counterparts with an agreement in hand. The agreement must fix the problem with the legislation and include a dropout provision that would protect women and those living with disabilities.

Will the finance minister stand in the House and make that commitment?

The NDP will remain vigilant and be persistent in our demands that the government fix its mistake. The government and the minister should be aware that the NDP will not let up its pressure until they follow through on their commitment.

Canadians deserve no less.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2016 / 5:10 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, at the beginning of the debate, I was quite encouraged by the NDP's indication that it would support Bill C-26. I understand today that it will continue to vote in favour of Bill C-26.

However, I would express some disappointment, in the sense that New Democrats do not seem to realize that if we were to follow their advice on this, first, it would put into jeopardy the pension proposal, the legislation itself, for the simple reason that the Conservatives have made a commitment to kill the bill. In other words, they would indefinitely talk it out, which would in essence deny what we believe Canadians want to see.

Then with respect to my other point, maybe I would put it in the form of a question. Would the member not acknowledge that in coming up with enhancements to the CPP, we have to get the support of the provinces and territories to make the changes that we all want to see made. We have achieved that support.

In order to change the law, we have to get the provinces onside. That is the reason the Minister of Finance is going back to the table at a future meeting.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of Bill C-245, sponsored by my colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, which would establish a national poverty reduction strategy.

Poverty is, sadly, still very much a growing problem in Canada. Since the unanimous motion by Ed Broadbent in 1989 to eradicate poverty in Canada by the year 2000, very little has been done by successive Liberal and Conservative governments to actually reach this goal.

In the intervening years since 1989, Canada has been proud of its position as the ”best” and “second best” country in the world in which to live, according to various United Nations measurements. However, Canadians living in poverty, including an alarming number of children, are no better off than they were in 1989.

How can this be in a country as blessed as Canada, with natural resources, a skilled and educated workforce? How can we tolerate a situation where our neighbours are struggling to find shelter, put food on the table, and take care of their families?

In my office is a poster that say, “All it takes is political will”. That poster was created to commemorate Ed Broadbent's motion in 1989, which every member of Parliament voted to support. Yet here we are in 2016 and very little has changed. We obviously did not have the political will. Our governments have failed to make poverty reduction a priority.

Poverty reduction is a complex and challenging issue, but we must not let that paralyze us. Too much time has already been wasted by hand-wringing and repetitive consultations that do not produce any discernible improvements for people living in poverty.

Bill C-245 offers a turnkey proposal that the federal government can readily adopt and implement. It calls for the creation of an officer for the commissioner for poverty reduction, as well as a national council for the elimination of poverty and social exclusion.

These are concrete steps that would focus efforts in poverty reduction in a way that is measurable, accountable, and cumulative. Governments have often said that we cannot afford to do any number of things that would reduce poverty. On the contrary, we cannot afford to not do anything.

I would like to give credit where credit is due. The government has put in place the Canada child benefit and increased the guaranteed income supplement by 10%. Unfortunately, these measures, by themselves, are not sufficient to eradicate poverty in Canada in any meaningful way. The Liberals' Bill C-26, which is supposed to increase retirement security for all Canadians by improving the Canada pension plan, actually omits some of the most vulnerable from the enhancement: women who take time out to have kids and people living with disabilities. Whether this omission was an oversight or deliberate, the Liberals have refused to fix the bill, thereby doing absolutely nothing for two of the most vulnerable groups in society.

I come from the great riding of Saskatoon West, a diverse riding that, unfortunately, is no stranger to poverty, and there is a very high cost to poverty. In Saskatchewan, Poverty Costs, a coalition of community-based organizations, calculated that the economic cost of poverty in Saskatchewan was $3.8 billion a year.

Of course, the costs of poverty go beyond the dollars and cents spent on maintaining Canada's social safety net. The lost opportunity costs and the consequences of growing inequality among our residents impact all of us. In addition, poverty costs Saskatchewan $420 million a year in heightened health care service usage. Poverty also causes us to spend between $50 million and $120 million a year more than we would otherwise spend on our criminal justice system.

The same report also found that one in 10 of our population lacked the income needed to afford basic necessities. For a parent working full-time, minimum wage pays just over $20,000 per year. That is almost $15,000 below the poverty line for a family of four. Poverty affects us unequally and the numbers are shocking: 17% of Canadian children live in poverty, 33% of immigrant children, and 64% of first nations children.

Some of Saskatchewan's population, including women, children, newcomers, indigenous peoples, people living with disabilities, and those in rural areas are at greater risk of living in poverty and face systemic barriers that impede their efforts to rise above the poverty line.

Health disparities due to poverty are a direct result of substandard living conditions, inadequate access to nutritional food, and increased stress associated with making ends meet. The stresses of living in poverty can also be deadly.

In Saskatoon, low-income adults were 4.5 times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and 15 times more likely to attempt suicide.

In Saskatchewan, and across the country, costs of living are rising, but wages and salaries are not necessarily keeping pace.

In 2012, Saskatchewan had the second highest inflation rate in the country, and yet, still had the second lowest minimum wage.

The good news is that, overall, there is an increased public understanding about the social determinants of health, and growing support for addressing the underlying causes of poor health. Some 94% of Saskatchewan residents support reducing poverty, with 89% supporting a provincial approach to poverty reduction in Saskatchewan.

Therefore, we had high hopes in Saskatchewan when the provincial government adopted a poverty reduction strategy in 2014. Unfortunately, the Saskatchewan Party has now backed away from this priority, at a time when it is needed most.

The evidence shows that working to reduce poverty in the first place costs less than paying to respond to the effects of poverty later. If we needed proof that poverty is growing instead of decreasing, we just have to look at last week's headlines.

According to HungerCount 2016, a comprehensive report on hunger and food bank use in Canada, Saskatchewan has seen one of the largest increases in the number of people accessing a food bank since last year. The percentage of children using food banks is highest in Saskatchewan. It represents 45% of everyone served.

Steve Compton, the CEO of the Regina Food Bank, added that a job is no guarantee against food bank use. Nearly one in six households helped in Canada are working, yet still need a food bank to make ends meet. A lot of this has to do with the fact that low-wage and precarious jobs with no benefits are the only job growth our economy is seeing. It is no wonder that Canadians continue to rely on food banks, and yet, the finance minister has said that we should all just get used to job churn.

The Liberal government needs to acknowledge that poverty is growing, and use the levers it has to encourage stable, long-term jobs, instead of shrugging its shoulders. A $15 federal minimum wage would be a good start.

I am very proud to say that in my riding, four progressive employers have already committed to paying their employees a living wage. A living wage makes a huge difference for families and individuals and their communities. A truly progressive government would understand this and act accordingly.

Last week, Campaign 2000 released its annual report card on child and family poverty. It is heartbreakingly sad that an organization whose goal it was to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000 is not only still in existence today but that they are farther than ever from their stated goaI. After decades of advocacy for children and families in poverty, Campaign 2000 is still calling on the federal government to create a national anti-poverty plan.

Its 2016 national report card, “A Road Map to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty”, provides the latest statistics on child and family poverty in Canada, and clear recommendations for federal government action and leadership to end child and family poverty.

Bill C-245 can be the first step. It has already been studied at committee, and the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development has acknowledged it is an excellent bill.

The Liberals have stated many times in the House, and at various committees, that the federal government has a role to play in reducing poverty in Canada, and that Canada needs a long-term, collaborative strategy to combat poverty.

Safe and affordable housing, affordable child care, accessible health services, a living wage, and a basic income for everyone are all important factors that contribute to the well-being of all Canadians.

It is my hope this excellent bill will be passed without delay, and it will be part of a truly comprehensive and collaborative strategy that will finally tackle all the different factors that contribute to poverty in this country.

Bill C-26--Time Allocation MotionCanada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That in relation to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill; and

That fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-26--Time Allocation MotionCanada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2016 / 10:10 a.m.
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Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, time allocation is the only tool that exists for a government to advance legislation when a stalemate exists. We have a duty to move forward all legislation, including important financial legislation, to make sure we move forward on the agenda that we have for Canadians.

I would like to just respond to some numbers. Including today, we have had eight days of debate on Bill C-26 at second reading. On Bill C-26, this has allowed nearly 70 members of Parliament, including nearly 40 Conservatives, to participate in debate so far. This represents nearly one half of the Conservative caucus.

Our government is committed to helping Canadians to achieve their goal of a safe, secure, and dignified retirement. We know that Bill C-26 would move forward that agenda in a way that would make a difference for all Canadians across this country. We are moving forward in a way that allows us to do what we know is right for Canadians.

Bill C-26--Time Allocation MotionCanada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2016 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, my question is this: What is the hurry? We know that Bill C-26 is not going to have any benefit for anybody for 40 years. We know that it certainly will have a bad effect in terms of reducing GDP, killing jobs, and potentially hurting small businesses for the next 30 years. Understanding that it would do nothing to help Canadians today who are struggling in retirement and nothing good would come from it for at least 40 years, why is the government in such a hurry to take money out of the pockets of hard-working Canadians and small businesses?

Bill C-26--Time Allocation MotionCanada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2016 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, it is the ninth time that the government brings in guillotine motions like time allocation. It is the third time in a week and a half that it has done this. So much for sunny ways.

The government is well aware of the problems with Bill C-26, a well-intentioned reform bill to fix the Canada pension plan. New Democrats have made many constructive comments, including the fact that this bill discriminates against women, primarily, who take time out to have children, and against people who have disabilities of various sorts.

How is this time allocation motion possibly consistent with the respectful procedures that the government promised in this place and that the Prime Minister was committed to addressing? How does this square with those promises?

Bill C-26--Time Allocation MotionCanada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2016 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, including today we have had eight days of debate on Bill C-26 at second reading. Again, this has allowed nearly 70 members of Parliament to participate in debate. This represents very significant percentages of both the Conservative members opposite and the New Democratic Party members opposite.

We have been very clear. The government is committed to improving retirement outcomes for Canadians, all Canadians. We are looking to introduce this measure because we know that it will improve the lives of Canadians in the future. It will be an improvement for all Canadians who are able to save in the Canada pension plan. We know that it will bring forth a better outcome in the future.

Bill C-26--Time Allocation MotionCanada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2016 / 10:20 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am going to raise a larger concern. We went through ten years, and I know my friends on the Conservative benches may object to my reminding us, when we had a government that did many things the new government promised would not be repeated, including the use of time allocation repeatedly, but also in other areas of public policy.

The changes that were promised are not the changes we are seeing. It seems that 10 years of one style of policy gets us acclimatized to a certain amount of loss of democracy. I had hoped we were hitting the reset button and that we would not see the use of time allocation as frequently in this place.

Between 1914 and 1945, time allocation and shutting down debate was used seven times. While nine times in one year does not seem like a lot, when the previous government used it 100 times in one session of Parliament, the 41st Parliament, it is still against the essence of democracy in this place to shut down debate.

It is true, as the Minister of Finance says, that many parties have had a chance to weigh in on this debate. Members of Parliament in positions such as mine, in parties that are not recognized, those with fewer than 12 members, have not had the opportunity.

There are many questions to be asked about Bill C-26. The bigger question is whether the bar the new government set is to do better than the previous government or to do as well as it promised to do.