An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of Oct. 19, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-27.

Summary

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.

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.

EthicsOral Questions

October 19th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, if he had such confidence in what he was doing, then why did he mislead all of his colleagues?

According to our information, in the five days following the introduction of Bill C-27, which will directly benefit Morneau Shepell and is a bill sponsored by the Minister of Finance himself, stocks in Morneau Shepell went up 4.8%. The Minister of Finance would have made more than $2 million profit on his shares.

He is an intelligent person. Does he not find there is perceived conflict of interest, since he was in a position to personally benefit from his own actions?

October 19th, 2017 / 8:55 a.m.
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Ron Watt As an Individual

Thank you, and good morning.

My name is Ron Watt. As you may have guessed, I'm a senior and I worked for the Canadian public service for 35 years. When I retired, I joined an organization that is now known as the National Association of Federal Retirees. I joined here in Windsor, am a proud member, and I continue to serve as the past president of that organization. We have about 850 members locally, and nationally we have about 180,000. That includes 60,000 ex-military personnel.

Today we have three points that we would like to leave you with for your consideration in the 2018 budget: one, secure retirements; two, strong health care; and three, a national seniors strategy. We feel these are the best ways to help seniors and their families.

On retirement security, I urge the government to scrap Bill C-27. This bill would introduce a new type of pension plan and target benefit pensions, while taking away retirement security and killing off a good defined benefit plan that people have worked for and that bring benefits back to their communities and their families.

For budget 2018, I believe the federal government should lead a national seniors strategy that builds on the home care and seniors housing investments that have been made so far. The strategy needs to include a national palliative and end-of-life care strategy and better pharmacare for seniors, and it must continue to tackle infrastructure investments with age-friendly communities and universal design standards in mind. To ensure residential needs are met, the government should appoint a minister responsible for seniors. This would allow public policy to be heard that impacts our age group.

In summary, these actions would lead to better productivity and a stronger economy, not just for seniors but for their families and Canadian communities.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to appear. Good luck with your ongoing work.

EthicsOral Questions

October 18th, 2017 / 3 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that Bill C-27 furthers the private interests of the finance minister. The Conflict of Interest Act states that a minister is in a conflict “when he or she exercises an official power...to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives”.

Will the Prime Minister just admit that his Minister of Finance has violated the Conflict of Interest Act, or is he just too busy working hard for the French villa owners, or those who are working hard to become French villa—

PensionsOral Questions

October 18th, 2017 / 2:50 p.m.
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NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Certainly not supporting the middle class that is for sure, Mr. Speaker.

Workers at Sears Canada are very worried about whether their pensions will be protected, but guess who has been appointed to administer the Sears Canada pension plan? Morneau Shepell. This is a company that advocates transferring more risks from employer to employee.

The government promised it would fix our bankruptcy laws but it has done nothing.

Furthermore, if Bill C-27 becomes law, the finance minister will profit off workers getting stuck with weak pensions.

I have a simple question for the Prime Minister. Is this the real change he promised working Canadians?

EthicsOral Questions

October 18th, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the boss at Morneau Shepell told investors in 2013 that legislation was required to go after defined pension benefits and, voila, he introduced Bill C-27. Morneau Shepell told investors this legislation would be a game-changer.

The Prime Minister is talking about a gold standard of ethics. Gold for who, for the finance minister, who is now making $150,000 a month? A blind trust will not cut it. Will the Prime Minister withdraw Bill C-27, and his finance minister's blatant attack on the pension benefits of Canadian workers?

EthicsOral Questions

October 18th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance stands to make millions in profit from a bill before Parliament that he himself wrote.

This may be the most blatant conflict of interest in history. It is undeniable that, if Bill C-27 were to become law, Morneau Shepell would reap greater profits, which would pour into the finance minister's pocket. That is totally unacceptable.

Will the Prime Minister admit that his Minister of Finance has utterly betrayed Canadians' trust?

EthicsOral Questions

October 18th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, a finance minister's responsibilities may be in conflict with a company he controls. For example, in a 2013 speech given by the minister, then a principal at Morneau Shepell, he said:

“We need legislation enabling Target Benefit Plans and Shared Risk Plans in all Canadian jurisdictions.”

In 2016, he introduced Bill C-27, which does exactly that and will benefit his company. I know my definition of “conflict of interest”. Perhaps the Prime Minister would like to share his?

EthicsOral Questions

October 18th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

That is what they would like us to believe, Mr. Speaker, but what the Liberals were actually doing this whole time was protecting wealthy millionaires and those trying to hide it.

We know that the finance minister still owns $40 million in shares in his family business, Morneau Shepell, a business that the minister is responsible for regulating. That business will directly profit off of target benefit pensions, which the Liberals are introducing in Bill C-27. Therefore, can the Prime Minister confirm that his finance minister recused himself from any and all discussions on that bill?

October 18th, 2017 / 8:55 a.m.
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Daniel Morin As an Individual

Good morning.

I represent the Montreal chapter of the National Association of Federal Retirees.

Today, I would like to highlight the three best ways of helping seniors and their families: ensure retirement security, provide judicious health care, and adopt a national seniors' strategy.

Regarding retirement security, I urge the government to withdraw Bill C-27. This bill would introduce a new type of pension plan, that is to say the target benefit plan, while diminishing pension security and eliminating defined benefit plans that are valid, for which people have worked, and which provide benefits to local and national economies. Let's not forget that seniors, who are increasingly numerous, actively participate in the country's economy.

As for Budget 2018, I think that the federal government should establish a national strategy for seniors based on investment in home care and seniors' housing. That strategy should include national measures on palliative and end-of-life care, as well as better pharmacare for seniors. We must continue to invest in infrastructure with an eye to senior-friendly communities.

Finally, the government should appoint a minister responsible for seniors, in order to ensure that public policy decisions always take seniors' viewpoints into account. These measures would contribute to improving productivity and strengthening the economy, not only for seniors, but also for their families and for Canadian communities as a whole.

Thank you.

Opposition Motion—Minister of Finance's documents submitted to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, did we just hear the member for Kingston and the Islands ask if we really think we represent Joe Public? He stood and asked if we actually think we represent Joe Public in the House. I can tell him that this caucus is made up of farmers. It is made up of teachers. It is made up of construction workers who may own construction companies. It is made up of business people from across this country. We are Joe Public in the House. The reason we are here today is that the Liberals do not believe that they are. They do not believe they represent the public in this country. That is why they keep getting themselves into the trouble they are in.

I have been here probably too long now, but I remember one of them saying, “I am entitled to my entitlements.” We all remember that. Fortunately, in the end, it cost that government its position, and it had to move over here. The Liberals moved back into government and brought that same attitude with them right from the beginning. I want to talk about that this afternoon.

We are not here just because of an issue concerning the Ethics Commissioner. We are here because of the attitude shown by the government that disrespects Canadians right across this country, particularly the attitude of the finance minister and the Prime Minister of this country.

I will be sharing my time today with the member for Peace River—Westlock.

We just heard the NDP member talk about the finance minister, in 2013, giving a speech explaining changes to pension plans and benefits he wanted to see that would benefit his company, Morneau Shepell. Let us fast forward to his being elected and appointed finance minister, when he introduces Bill C-27. Anyone who looks at the bill knows it would accomplish pretty much everything he wanted in 2013.

We know he is going to leave here. Where is going to go? It actually does not make much difference if his interests are in a blind trust right now or not, because he is taking care of them from here. That is the problem. That is the heartbeat of a Liberal right there. We are here today not just because of that one issue around ethics but because of an attitude the current government has had from day one.

There is a total disinterest by the Liberals in being here today, and we know why that is. However, I have to ask if it is because they have a sense of entitlement that they do not even need to be here to answer the questions Canadians are asking. We have seen that for the last month on the tax changes. Liberals want nothing to do with Canadians. They want nothing to do with talking to them. They want nothing to do with town halls. They want nothing to do with extending the consultation period.

They ask if we represent Joe Public. We actually meet Joe Public. They have been hiding in their offices for the last two months, afraid of the Canadian public.

Is it arrogance that keeps them from being here today? Is it carelessness? From the beginning, we have seen that they just have not been able to get the job done. They are running massive deficits. They have not been able to keep virtually any promise they have made. Is it because of corruption that they do not want to be here today to defend themselves? The opaqueness we are seeing is not meant to inform Canadians; it is actually meant to push them away and protect the Liberal government.

I heard this afternoon that they are begging for more time and that we treat the finance minister with great respect because somehow it is poisoning the well if we dare question the direction the Liberal government is going.

Let us talk about what is expected of ministers. Members are elected and are appointed to cabinet or to the position of parliamentary secretary, and it is expected that they will not be able to control their assets. They are expected to either sell them off or put them in a blind trust at a distance so they cannot have any influence over them. All of us who were in that situation had to give up control of our assets.

What is it that the finance minister has done? Nobody really knows. The further we go, the more convoluted this gets and the more unsure we are about what he has actually done with his assets. We heard today that he could be making up to $150,000 a month. My Liberal colleague across the way talked about how we are privileged to be here. The finance minister is making the equivalent of an MP's salary every month just in dividends from his company, according to the information.

Opposition Motion—Minister of Finance's documents submitted to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

If we are going to have a finance minister bringing legislation that has to do with pensions, then Bill C-27 will have to be withdrawn, because it is so obviously tarnished with the self-interest of him and his company and his offshore villa that it has no credibility. For anyone on the government side now to stand with that finance minister and say that they are going to continue to push this attack on defined pension benefits, when this man laid out the plan for his shareholders in 2013 and has followed through, it falls to the government to say that it will reject him and his bill.

Opposition Motion—Minister of Finance's documents submitted to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

I would like to thank the Speaker. I do not have a private corporation I can refer to myself as. I am just Joe Average.

Madam Speaker, the Liberals told me it was different. He forgot to mention it was a private corporation. There was silly me, thinking that all the people I know own houses with their families, not through private offshore corporations, but this man does.

Now, on October 17, he is saying that he is willing to look at the issue of a blind trust for the money he is making from Morneau Shepell. I do not think that cuts it, because we are looking at a man who said in 2013 that legislation was needed to attack defined pension benefits, which many workers and many seniors across this country depend on. Then he came into this House, and he was given the position as finance minister, and the first major piece of legislation he brought in was Bill C-27, which was the direct form of legislation his company required to undermine pension benefits for Canadian workers. All through that time, he was able to participate in directing his company, because it was not in a blind trust. Even if it were in a blind trust, how would anyone think that a man whose name is the company, Morneau Shepell, which makes its money getting rid of defined pension benefits, and brags about it, would bring in the legislation?

I am sorry, but putting it in a blind trust on October 17 and asking for advice from the Ethics Commissioner does not cut it. This is about a fundamental, shocking breach.

I have seen a lot of breaches in Parliament over the years, and I have seen a lot of dubious and bogus behaviour, but to have the Liberal government come in and tell us that this is somehow high-minded integrity and just a bit of absent-mindedness does not cut it.

When I talk to Canadians across this country, they talk to me about their disappearing pensions. I want to talk about Lisa Okill, 100 years old, the first woman to run a Sears store, who is losing her pension benefits right now. We will never see anyone from Morneau Shepell or anyone in that government stand up to fight for that senior citizen.

It falls to us as parliamentarians to say that this kind of misuse of public office to look after the pals and friends of the Liberal Party is not acceptable. We have to hold this House to a higher standard, because Canadians have absolutely no reason to believe in a Prime Minister who had his $1,500 cash for access meetings with Chinese billionaires, and when he was caught out and asked why he was doing it, answered that they were worried about the middle class, that they were meeting about the middle class. I guess we little people are supposed to say, “Wow, that is amazing. These Chinese billionaires paid $1,500 to get the ear of the Prime Minister to talk about the middle class.” Yes, I bet. How about, probably not?

Opposition Motion—Minister of Finance's documents submitted to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am greatly honoured to rise to speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay.

One of my Liberal colleagues said that we had to continue to show deference on this issue to the finance minister to reassure Canadians that they should have trust in the House. However, the question we are discussing today is a fundamental question about a breach of trust with Canadians. When I talk with Canadians across the country, quite frankly, they do not believe that Ottawa is interested in or will protect their basic interests, and we need look no further than the present finance minister.

We look at the situation today of the Sears workers who have been laid off thanks to the mismanagement by a hedge fund of what was once a stellar company. We see people whose basic pension benefits are at risk, and the most we hear from the Liberals is, “Well, that's really too bad, but it's before the courts.” It's the same thing we heard when Nortel went down, and the Abitibi workers lost their jobs, and the people across my riding who had their pension stolen by corporate executives like Peggy Witte. Members know that that kind of theft is not only legal in Canada, but also gets one bonuses for doing it. We will never see the government stand up and defend people whose pensions are being stolen from them, because they are fundamentally the party of the 1%.

I am not saying this in an exaggerated fashion, because we have only to look at our present finance minister who is the privatized pension king of this country. The issue today, hot off the presses after all of the major national attention, is that he has finally written the Ethics Commissioner about the fact that the shares he receives from Morneau Shepell give him $150,000 in pocket change a month, and an extra $40 million since he has come into government.

Now the Liberals would tell us that this kind of money is virtuous, because a man who makes that much money and offers himself for public service is someone we should admire, as he can only be doing it for the benefit of all of us little people. I would like to believe that, but if we look at the issue in terms of where Morneau Shepell has been and where the present finance minister has been, a blind trust will not cut it.

I will refer members to a speech by the minister in 2013. He summarized it by saying, “Elderly poverty is not a problem.” I guess one has to own a villa in the south of France to think that elderly poverty is not a problem in Canada. However, in that speech he also made a number of statements about the push to get rid of defined pension benefit plans. He said “A significant number of our clients have parent companies or sister companies in the...United Kingdom.” He went on to say that the movement away from defined pension benefits has been easier there than in Canada and that “We need legislation enabling Target Benefit Plans and Shared Risk Plans in all Canadian jurisdictions.” He told his shareholders that we needed to move on legislation. In that same speech, he said that “As defined benefit plan consultants and administrators, we’ve been in the front row.”

What was one of the first pieces of legislation the minister brought forward in his own name? It was legislation that would especially benefit Morneau Shepell, Bill C-27, which is an attack on defined pension benefits in this country. He said it was necessary to give his company the advantage.

When discussions on changes in defined pension benefits began with the previous government, Morneau Shepell wanted its investors to know that the idea came from it. The proposed DBP framework the government outlined in its consultation paper is clearly modelled after the shared risk pension plans introduced in 2012 in New Brunswick. Morneau Shepell's experts were heavily involved in the design of that, which is what they do for a living. This is why he makes $150,000 a month and his benefits have gone up by $40 million. If one introduces legislation that will benefit his company, obviously the shares will go up.

How is this an ethical problem? Well, of course, when one is a Liberal, one does not think there is a problem with ethics, because he is a nice guy.

We have been told that we have been picking on him because he forgot to announce that he had his private French villa through a private corporation. The Liberals over there have been saying that any one of us could have made that same mistake. Perhaps. It is not a fair question to ask in this House, because the amount of money people earn here is much higher than the folks back home. Can we have a show of hands? How many people here own a villa in the south of France? I do not see any, and the minister is gone on the Prime Minister's hide, so he is not here. I do not even know if he would have put up his hand.

Opposition Motion—Minister of Finance's documents submitted to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, I think my hon. friend is quite right in calling into question the effect this is going to have on Morneau Shepell with respect to defined benefits. We do not have to look too far back to Bill C-27, which was an amendment to the Pension Benefits Standards Act, which in fact was sponsored by the Minister of Finance and could potentially affect Morneau Shepell. As long as he continues to hold onto those shares, as long as he continues to get, as David Akin reported today, $146,000 a month in dividends based on the 2.5 million shares he has, I think we are quite right to call into question every single decision the finance minister makes for the benefit of not just Morneau Shepell but the potential benefit of an increase in those dividends and what he can gain from this.

Opposition Motion—Minister of Finance's documents submitted to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, part of the crux of the issue and the reason the finance minister was singled out is that Canadians were led to believe that he was acting in accordance with the recommendations of the Ethics Commissioner. What we found out in testimony at committee today was that, in fact, that was not the case. The Ethics Commissioner said clearly at committee today that she did not advise the finance minister not to put his assets in a blind trust.

We know also that in two instances, Bill C-27 and the small business tax proposals, there are legitimate concerns about the fact that those proposals could directly have an impact on the business of the finance minister, which we now know is not in a blind trust. He has knowledge of what is going on in his own business.

That is why this is about the finance minister. That is different from any other member of the House. There are not stories like that about any other member of the House. They are not in a position to benefit their own businesses in the way we are concerned the finance minister may be.

I wonder why the member for Winnipeg North is more concerned about defending the finance minister's precarious position than he is about making sure that the business of government is being conducted fairly and in a way that meets a very high ethical standard. There are clearly legitimate questions about whether the finance minister is meeting that standard.