An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Bill Morneau  Liberal


Second reading (House), as of Oct. 19, 2016
(This bill did not become law.)


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

This enactment amends the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 to provide a framework for the establishment, administration and supervision of target benefit plans. It also amends the Act to permit pension plan administrators to purchase immediate or deferred life annuities for former members or survivors so as to satisfy an obligation to provide pension benefits if the obligation arises from a defined benefit provision.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

February 13th, 2023 / 4:10 p.m.
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François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

I'm listening to them. It's important to do so.

As you know, however, there are quite a few priorities to deal with at the same time. For example, you've just mentioned bills C‑27 and C‑34.

It is of course important to reform the Copyright Act. I'm working on that with my colleague, heritage minister Rodriguez. I listened to what the industry had to say. I also heard from the universities.

It's definitely one of our priorities. We're going to continue to work with the industry. I have a great deal of respect for creators. They make an important contribution. We need to be there for them and we are going to continue to do just that.

Pension Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

November 18th, 2022 / 2:20 p.m.
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Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here, or least to be with the House virtually. It is always an honour to rise on behalf of the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.

I would like to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for her leadership in this Parliament on this issue. God knows we need these issues brought up because, in some cases, the issue around pension reform and the need to resolve it is long standing and has happened over periods, not just of governments, but of decades.

We have two issues in this particular space when it relates to pensions. One is legacy pensions, which is broadly what we are dealing with today. The other one is new ones, meaning that fewer companies are deciding to use the standard defined benefit pension plan. I am just going to take a quick moment to share a few reasons why that is.

Obviously the business environment has changed. Technologies have come in. We have seen new business models operating that challenge the status quo and have created all sorts of issues for legacy businesses as technology continues to change things.

The government tried to deal with this by bringing in Bill C-27 in its first mandate, but that particular bill went nowhere because the government probably did not do its homework and got hung up over one particular area that people were contesting around conversion, the conversion of a defined benefit to a target pension plan.

The reason why I raise this issue is because the government has failed when it comes to addressing both legacy issues, as well as trying to invoke new methods for bringing in benefits, whether they be a target-based benefit or a defined benefit. If we want to see more people having secure retirements, then that is part of the solution. I do not think the government has done a very good job, which brings me back to legacy issues.

Defined benefit pensions, those are usually handled, most of the time, by the companies themselves. There is no legislation that says that when they are in a surplus position, who actually owns that. Is it the actual company or is it the pensioners or the current workers? That problem, unfortunately, does not happen that often because it is very seldom that these particular private, defined benefits are running at a surplus. In fact, it is the opposite.

We have seen cases such as Sears. I represent a riding that has a large percentage of seniors. They rely on that income. It breaks one's heart when one finds out that they are no longer going to be receiving the benefit they paid into.

There has been inaction on this by the Liberal government since it came into office, but I would not put it all on them. If we just look to those who are fortunate enough to have a pension program, and it is usually in the public sector, the answer has already been given by successive governments over the decades. If there is a shortfall, the taxpayer will fill that gap. However, for these private pensions, that has not been answered.

Unfortunately, we have seen recessions. We have seen where stock markets have been hit hard, in the early 2000s, obviously in the financial crisis in 2008-09, and the subsequent great recession, and now we are looking at where there is a lot of talk about a possible recession. This is the worst time to be bringing these things up.

When these issues happen, when scarcity is abound, this is where everyone tightens up and demands to have what they are owed. The member for Sarnia—Lambton has been trying, struggling through the process of a private member's bill, working through committee, to put a new balance in place that would at least address this.

We do have the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. Bill C-27 that I referred to earlier did talk about having more rules and oversight in place that would force new target benefits to come up with plans to bring themselves back into a surplus position when there is a drop.

That is really important because joint-sponsored pension plans often have these things where they will, on a temporary basis, cut some secondary benefits to smooth things out, and once the plan comes back into balance, then the regular benefits continue. Those kinds of tools, where a pension plan can smooth out those outflows to make sure there is always a plan to get back into surplus, work. It has been shown in joint-sponsored plans, and it could work in defined benefit programs as well, but the government has a responsibility to start the discussion.

Unfortunately, the government seems to have taken the opinion that, if one touches it, one has basically bought it. It has, so far, decided not to enter into this space since its retreat from Bill C-27. Again, this country deserves better. It deserves to have both certainty for the existing legacy pension plans out there in the federal space and, I believe, an overall discussion on provincial plans. So far, when it comes to that kind of discussion, successive ministers of finance, whether it be former minister Morneau, who is the minister no more, as I like to joke once in a while, or the current Minister of Finance, they have not made this a priority. Thus, this is where members of Parliament need to fill the gap.

The superpriority, although it is an essential process that has been pointed out by the Canadian public, where they feel that if the government cannot put in place a framework that assures them of that, then, by goodness, they should receive superpriority in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act at the very end. It is an option that will have trade-offs in the corporate side, where it will make it in some cases harder for corporations to receive financing for their bonds. However, in the absence of better leadership by the government, members of Parliament have been forced to do this.

It is terrible that we have a government in office that votes down, or I should say denies, unanimous consent. Members of Parliament wanted to see the superpriority component of this bill included. For the Liberal government to continually say no and use whatever tools it can just shows the government is completely opposed to anything in this space. That is lamentable because ultimately it is Canadians who do not have an assured pension, such as public servants or most of us, if we are vested, do.

I would encourage the government to come clean. I would encourage Canadians to talk to their members of Parliament. Most of all, I would encourage the government to start taking this issue seriously, put forward consultations with both provincial governments and the Canadian public on how it intends to deal with legacy issues if it is not going to go forward with the Bill C-228 provisions presented by the good member for Sarnia—Lambton.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak today and wish all of my colleagues a good day.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2021 / 11:30 a.m.
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Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-265, introduced by the member for Salaberry—Suroît.

The bill focuses on EI sickness benefits, which have been capped at 15 weeks since the 1970s, whereas EI regular benefits can last up to 26, or even 50, weeks.

This is not a new issue. I heard about it from Marie-Hélène Dubé, a Rivière-du-Loup resident who contacted me about it. I hear about this issue quite regularly from my constituents. Marie-Hélène Dubé is an acquaintance of mine. Over the years, I have spoken with her several times about the topic we are debating today.

Nearly four years ago, in 2018, I presented a resolution at my party's general council, held in Saint-Hyacinthe, to extend EI benefits in the case of serious illness. This resolution was adopted the members of my party. Last month, I also got this resolution passed by all party members at the Conservative convention, which was held virtually earlier this year.

All parties in the House want to address this issue. The Liberals are sadly the only ones dragging their feet.

I remind members that the Liberal government has been in power since October 2019. It had a majority for the first four years and has remained in power for another year and a half with the help of other opposition parties. So far, the Liberal government has not done anything to extend EI sickness benefits, and I do not see why.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer released a study two years ago in April 2019, estimating the cost of extending sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50. According to this study, it would cost between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion a year. That may seem like a lot, but it is important to know that the EI program is first and foremost supposed to be independent and self-sustaining. It is funded through premiums paid by workers and employers, which are adjusted periodically based on the claim rate.

In 2019, the contribution rate for workers was $1.62 per $100 of insurable earnings to a maximum of $56,300 a year. The employer pays 140% of that amount, or $2.27 per $100 of insurable earnings. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that extending sickness benefits would cost 6¢ more per $100 earned by a worker. For someone who earns $35,000 a year, that is an increase of $21 a year or $1.75 a month. For someone who has reached or exceeded the maximum insurable earnings of $56,300, the proposed change would cost $33.78 a year or $2.81 a month. If we asked people whether they were prepared to pay between $1.75 and $2.81 a month for peace of mind and access to EI sickness benefits if they were to get cancer or need heart surgery, for example, it is very clear that the answer would be yes.

Balance protection insurance for credit cards and credit disability insurance on car loans both cost far more than 0.06%. They usually cost around 1% of the monthly balance. That amount is 20 times higher than the small increase we are talking about here to extend EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50.

We might well wonder if that is why the Liberals are reluctant to offer EI sickness benefits for longer than 15 weeks. Have insurance companies lobbied the government because they do not want this safety net to make their financial products less attractive?

Let us remember the incestuous relationship between the Liberal government and major financial institutions, which was an issue when the Liberals introduced Bill C-27 in the previous Parliament. That bill proposed legislative amendments to pension standards that would have benefited Morneau Shepell, the family-owned investment company previously run by Bill Morneau, the former finance minister.

As a Conservative, I am very wary of any new tax or government directive that could make it harder for Canada's small and medium-sized businesses to compete. As the owner of a business with about 30 employees, I am all the more wary considering the especially difficult year all SMEs have had. I am here to help them get through the pandemic that we will have to continue grappling with for the next few months, or maybe even more than a year. However, I do not think that contributing an extra $29 or $47 per year per employee will bankrupt my business.

My employees are important to me, and I would love for them to have this lifeline to count on in case they ever have to face such a difficult struggle.

On this subject, I would not accuse the government of overspending. Why, then, are we still here, six and a half years after the Liberals took office? They still have not addressed this issue. The Liberals had a chance to include parts of Bill C-265 in their own Bill C-24, but they decided against it. To top it all off, we learned last week that the government has decided to refuse royal recommendation for Bill C-265, so its odds of being passed by the next election are slim.

Is this what the Liberals call co-operation with the opposition parties? It sounds more like “my way or the highway”. It appears as though they want to call an election right away, so that the Prime Minister can run as a great saviour and promise, for a third time, to increase the number of weeks of EI benefits for serious illnesses, when he had every opportunity to get it done sooner.

A few weeks ago, I asked the government whether it was going to extend EI sickness benefits from 15 to 50 weeks, as set out in the motion the House of Commons passed in February 2020. The government responded that it would first extend this benefit period to 30 weeks.

That is great, but when? Will it be in the budget? We shall see this afternoon. Can the government tell us the difference in cost between 30 and 50 weeks? I remind the House that the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that extending these benefits from 15 to 50 weeks would cost 6¢ for every $100. This figure is not for 30 weeks, but perhaps the government and the Department of Finance did their own assessment.

What is the difference in cost between 15 and 30 weeks? What would be the difference in cost between 30 and 50 weeks? Is the government seriously obstructing Bill C-265 to save 2¢ or 3¢? The Liberal member who will be speaking next has a few minutes to ask me questions. I would like him to start by answering mine.

Beyond the figures I just cited, Marie-Hélène Dubé and Émilie Sansfaçon were extremely resilient, and in the case of Ms. Sansfaçon, to the very end. Ms. Dubé went through three cancer diagnoses in the last 10 years. Earlier I heard my Liberal colleague note that the government has made changes related to COVID-19. I am glad that it did that, with our support, but here we are talking about a recurring thing and not something sporadic in connection with a pandemic. As mentioned by my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît, these are legislative amendments that do not happen often. The Employment Insurance Act has not changed since the 1970s and is no longer adequate. As my Liberal colleague aptly put it earlier, we must absolutely overhaul this legislation to adapt to today's realities.

I could go on for several more minutes, but the reality is that many businesses are struggling to find employees. That is the case in my riding right now. Unfortunately, when some get sick they not only have the burden of their illness weighing on them, but they also bear the financial burden, which becomes an additional stressor and is very hard to bear for anyone going through these difficult times.

Some will say that the Conservatives refused to make these changes in the past. It is true, but the way things are changing we must take care of one another. As my colleague mentioned earlier, people who can take care of those who are sick are entitled to more benefits than the sick people themselves. That makes no sense. We must adapt these new realities to today's life. Clearly, the pandemic added another layer, and the reality is that these types of events primarily affect women.

I believe that we must absolutely support my colleague's bill, and I invite the Liberals to also support it.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 19th, 2019 / 4:20 p.m.
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Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, the second is a petition to withdraw Bill C-27 to protect defined benefit plans.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 17th, 2019 / 3:55 p.m.
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Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present a petition on behalf of many residents of Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph and Brantford, Ontario, joining their voices to the thousands of Canadians who have signed similar petitions. I would like to thank the B.C. Retired Teachers Association and the National Association of Federal Retirees for their advocacy in this work. All these petitioners point out that before the 2015 federal election, Canadians were clearly promised, in writing, that defined benefit plans would not be retroactively changed to target benefit plans. As the House knows, Bill C-27, tabled by the Minister of Finance, precisely permits this change. Therefore, the petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act of 1985.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 14th, 2019 / 12:25 p.m.
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Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting two petitions from constituents in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap. Both of the petitions are calling on the government to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 6th, 2019 / 10:10 a.m.
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Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by dozens of residents of New Westminster—Burnaby, Vancouver and Victoria, who add their names to the thousands of Canadians across the country asking the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

As these petitioners say, before the 2015 federal election, Canadians were promised that defined benefit plans would not be changed to target benefit plans, but Bill C-27 would effectively impact this. It is why the petitioners are calling for the withdrawal of the bill.

I would like to thank the BC Retired Teachers' Association, and particularly JoAnne and Dale Lauber, who have been instrumental in bringing this petition forward. They are present in the gallery today.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 6th, 2019 / 10:10 a.m.
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Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am here today on behalf of my colleague from Langley—Aldergrove, who is home fighting his battle with cancer. We wish him well today. I am sure he is watching.

I am presenting this petition with 13,740 signatures. The person who initiated it is with us today, Mr. Gerry Tiede. It calls on the Government of Canada to promote and protect earned pensions for all Canadians in the future, to withdraw Bill C-27, and to establish a national pension insurance program to ensure that seniors can live with financial security.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2019 / 7:30 p.m.
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Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, moving a motion to extend the sitting hours of the House is not a great way to close out the last session of the 42nd Parliament of Canada. We are not opposed to working late every evening. We want to work and make progress on files.

Once again, we take issue with the means the government is using to get all members to work a little harder because the session is ending and these are the last days of this Parliament. The other items in the motion do not concern the extension of sitting hours. We take issue with the government's approach, which prevents the opposition from doing its job properly. It is handcuffing the opposition and moving the government's agenda along as quickly as possible, not based on what parliamentarians may have to say, but on what the government wants.

This is not new to us, given how the government has handled the legislative process throughout its mandate. The government has been unable to advance a decent legislative agenda. I am the opposition agriculture and agri-food critic. I spoke to my predecessors, and we have been waiting for the Minister of Agriculture to introduce a bill to improve the lives of Canadian farmers since my appointment two years ago.

When I look at all the agriculture documents and bills this government has introduced since it was elected in 2015, it is clear to me that the government has achieved nothing. Absolutely no legislation was proposed to improve the lives of Canadian farmers.

However, numerous bills were introduced. Now, the government is saying that the situation is urgent and that we must move quickly and pass this legislation. A number of bills were not passed by the government, and now time is of the essence.

Of all of the bills that were not passed, some never even moved forward. We have, for example, Bill C-5, introduced on February 5, 2016; Bill C-12, introduced on March 24, 2016; Bill C-27, introduced on October 19, 2016; Bill C-28, introduced on October 21, 2016; Bill C-32, introduced on November 15, 2016; and Bill C-33, introduced on November 24, 2016. The Liberals have had four years to move these bills forward.

All of a sudden, the government claims that these bills need to be passed urgently. After the vote this evening we will debate Bill C-81, which was introduced on June 20, 2018. It has been nearly a year. We are being told that this bill is urgent and must absolutely be passed, but the government was unable to bring it forward earlier.

If this is so urgent, why did the government not bring up this bill more regularly in the House? Why did we not talk about it on a regular basis? All of a sudden, we need to pass it quickly because the Liberals have realized that they are going to run out of time. The government was unable to manage the House. It was unable to give parliamentarians an opportunity to do their work and to speak about important bills. The Liberals have realized at the last minute that they have forgotten this and that. There is an election coming up in the fall and now parliamentarians have to do the work to pass this or that bill.

The government chose to impose late sittings on the House for 18 days while also moving a time allocation motion, which means that we will not even have the chance to talk about it for long. If we refer to the Standing Orders, the government could have extended sitting hours for the last 10 days of the session, as provided for in our normal parliamentary calendar. That is what it could have done, and it would have been entirely doable.

I would like to talk about one of the Standing Orders. Even though the standing order that governs the extension of sitting hours in June has been in effect since 1982, it is not used every year. In some cases, special orders were proposed and adopted instead, usually by unanimous consent.

Parliamentarians are here to represent the people in their ridings. According to the Standing Orders, anyone who wants to change the rules to move things along has to seek the unanimous consent of the House.

Unfortunately, this government does not really seem to care about unanimous consent. It does not really seem to care what the opposition thinks or has to say even though, just like MPs on government benches, we represent all the people of our ridings. The least the government could do, out of respect for Canadian voters, is respect people in opposition. We have a role to play.

Unfortunately, our role is not to agree all the time and say the government is doing a good job. On the contrary, our role is to try to point out its failings so it can improve. Basically, the opposition's role is to make the government better by pointing out its mistakes and bad decisions so the government can reflect on that and find better solutions for all Canadians. However, the government does not seem willing to take that into account.

On top of that, there are two opposition days left. I mentioned the negative effects of the motion. The government is proposing to extend the hours in the House, but what it failed to mention is that it is going to deny the opposition the opportunity to have two full opposition days to address situations that are very troubling to Canadians.

For instance, during a normal opposition day during which we might hear from a number of stakeholders, we could have talked about the canola crisis, which is affecting thousands of canola producers across Canada. This crisis, which involves China, is costing Canadian canola producers billions of dollars. For all members who have canola farmers among their constituents, it would have been an opportunity to express the concerns of their fellow citizens and farmers in their regions. Perhaps we could have convinced the government to take action, such as filing a complaint through the World Trade Organization to condemn China's actions or appointing an ambassador, for example. As peculiar as it may seem, Canada currently has no representative in China to speak with Chinese authorities.

We could have had such a debate here in the House.

The one thing that the members across the aisle seem to have forgotten is that members of the House are not the government. The government is the ministers, the cabinet members. In this chamber, people have the right to speak their minds in the hope of swaying the government.

It is true that the government is formed by the party with the most members elected to the House, but it is also up to backbench members of the ruling party to try to persuade their government and speak for the people they represent, such as the farmers in their ridings. Sadly, the members on that side of the House seem to be divorced from reality. They seem to be blind to the government's desire to crush Parliament, to crush the MPs who are trying to do a good job of representing the constituents of every riding. I think that is a real shame.

We have absolutely nothing against extending the sitting hours of the House, but if it is intended to cover up the government's mistakes and its inability to properly organize the work of the House, then I think that is disgraceful.

The government is using this kind of motion to not only make us work more, which, as I mentioned, we agree with, but also deprive us of our last remaining tools, like the voting marathons everyone remembers. We held those voting marathons to make the government realize it cannot do whatever it wants in the House of Commons. The House of Commons is not the tool of the government. This motion to extend the sitting hours also prevents us from using that tool, which was a powerful means for us to send the government a message.

After making such grand promises of transparency and openness, this government has failed spectacularly to deliver. Sadly, its latest motion on the rules of the House just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has no respect for the work of the House. It saddens me to see a government ending its term on such a sour note.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 16th, 2019 / 10:20 a.m.
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Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I have two petitions to table in the House.

The first is largely from the members of the Comox Valley, who call on the government to withdraw Bill C-27. The concern is that prior to the 2015 federal election, Canadians were clearly promised. in writing. that the defined benefits plans, which have already been paid for by employees and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed into target benefit plans.

The petitioners are very passionate about this and call on the government to do the right thing and withdraw Bill C-27.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 16th, 2019 / 10:15 a.m.
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Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the people who signed this petition want to draw the government's attention to the fact that, before the 2015 election, the Liberals promised that the defined pension benefit plan that people had already contributed to would not be retroactively changed into a target benefit plan. However, that is exactly what the finance minister's Bill C-27 does.

The petitioners are calling on the government to withdraw this unfair bill.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 13th, 2019 / 3:15 p.m.
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Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents and other Canadians.

Petitioners are calling on the government to withdraw Bill C-27. They note that in the 2015 federal election, the Liberals promised Canadians in writing that defined benefit plans that have already been paid for by employees would not be retroactively changed into target benefit plans. Of course, after the election, the government changed that and Bill C-27 came into play.

Petitioners are calling on the government to withdraw the bill and to honour what it said it would do during the 2015 election.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 13th, 2019 / 3:15 p.m.
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Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to present a petition to the House of Commons that calls for the withdrawal of Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

Bill C-27 tabled by the Minister of Finance precisely permits the change for defined benefits, therefore jeopardizing the retirement income security of Canadians who have negotiated defined benefit plans as a form of deferred wages.

The petitioners call on the government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 7th, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions on the same subject.

The petitioners point out that before the 2015 federal election, Canadians were clearly promised in writing that defined benefit pension plans, which have already been paid for by employees and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed into target benefit plans.

They also point out that Bill C-27, tabled by the Minister of Finance, permits precisely this change, thereby jeopardizing the retirement income security of Canadians who have negotiated defined benefit plans as a form of deferred wages.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 6th, 2019 / 3:05 p.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here recognizing that before the 2015 election, Canadians were clearly promised in writing that defined benefit plans, which have already been paid for by employees, employers and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed to target benefit plans.

Therefore, the petitioners are clearly calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, which was tabled by the Minister of Finance in this place.