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.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 2nd, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-63. Budgets and budget implementation bills really tell us a lot. They tell us where a government's priorities lie, the political will of the government, so to speak, and how it will tackle the major issues that communities are faced with today. There are a few priorities and initiatives in this budget implementation bill that are welcome, but when we talk about a 329-page document containing 20 pieces of legislation embedded in this giant bill, a few are simply not enough.

New Democrats have been very clear about what we had hoped to see in this budget implementation bill. We wanted measures that make substantial strides in making our country greener and more equitable, measures that would make significant improvements in workplaces so that Canadians could have a better quality of life and seniors entering retirement would not see their savings ripped out from under them, such as what the government is doing in Bill C-27. We wanted an expansion of our health care system. There are a lot of seniors in my community who say they cannot afford their medications. There are a lot of people in my constituency who say they want dental care to be part of our pharmacare system. None of that is in this 329-page budget implementation bill.

The government is so good at saying there is a new nation-to-nation relationship and it wants to do right by the indigenous community. What do we not see? We do not see real action to address historic systemic discrimination against indigenous peoples in this budget implementation bill. We do not see any actions there. The government, despite all of its lofty rhetoric, fancy Facebook posts, tweets, social media, and so on, has failed once again, in my view, to adequately prioritize these important areas for Canadians.

This can be seen not just in Bill C-63, as I mentioned. We can also see what the government is trying to do in Bill C-27 and other tax measures. I will get into that a little. The government suggests that it is making the tax system more fair for Canadians, and yet its consultations—on the small business tax changes, the provisions in Bill C-27, which go after seniors' pensions, and the lack of action in Bill C-63 to address the real issues of the day—show otherwise.

Over the last 30 years, workers have helped our economy grow by some 50%, and yet salaries are stagnating and retirements are becoming less secure. Now the inequality gap in Canada between the richest and the majority of Canadians is growing faster and wider than in other developed nations. The richest 100 Canadians now have the same wealth as 10 million less fortunate Canadians combined. Canada's top 100 CEOs now make 193 times more than someone earning an average wage, and these CEOs had already out-earned the average Canadian's annual wage by 11:50 a.m. on January 3 of this year.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canada loses at least $8 billion a year through tax evasion and avoidance by the richest and largest corporations; 91% of this lost revenue goes back to the top 10% of income earners; and 50% of that goes to the top 1%.

New Democrats have been clear that regressive tax measures, such as the CEO stock option loophole, which costs the treasury an estimated $800 million per year, need to be closed. By the way, the Liberals promised that during the campaign. They said they were going to close the stock option loophole. What happened after the election? It was not on the agenda anymore.

The Liberals continue to fail to deliver with Bill C-63. The increasing use of tax havens to avoid taxes costs the treasury an estimated $7 billion per year. The NDP has called for action. The Liberals have yet again failed to deliver in Bill C-63 so that we can direct that $7 billion into much-needed support for Canadians in each of our ridings. The Liberals refuse to do that, and they justify it every day in the House with their talking points, pretending that they are doing right by Canadians.

We saw during the consultations that they floated ideas that do not address the main issues of the day, the things they promised during the campaign. Instead, they chose to target the small business community.

If that was not enough, the government then attempted to target low-earning retail workers, many of whom are minimum wage earners who are just trying to survive in an era when housing costs are increasing and they cannot afford to put food on the table. That is the government's priority.

I think the government did that so it could cast a shadow over the real agenda. They did it so that their friends on Bay Street would not have to be faced with the tax measures they promised they would bring in after they formed government. They did it so they could protect their friends and the well-to-do. As it happens, the Minister of Finance is among them, as we see in the ethical scandal he is mired in right now. Every day we learn more, although sometimes less, because he is working so hard to hide all that information. We are learning, though, that the finance minister is making a decision on Bill C-27, on pension benefits, so that he can, it turns out, benefit himself and his family with the shares he holds in the company.

We also learned that the finance minister is using numbered companies to avoid paying taxes. Is it any wonder the government has turned a blind eye to the priority of tackling where the low-hanging fruit is in terms of redirecting those monies to the treasury?

I do not see measures in Bill C-63 that many of the people in Vancouver East would like to see, and that I would venture to say many Canadians would like to see. Young parents and working mothers, who are often impacted the most, need better access to affordable, high-quality child care, yet we do not see any provisions in the bill for a national child care program. It would be an enormous benefit for women who need child care. It would benefit not only their family units and the children in terms of early childhood development but would benefit our overall economy. The government has failed to deliver on that.

I fail to see in this legislation anything to do with safe, secure, and affordable housing, which a lot of people are struggling with. The government talks a good talk about delivering a national affordable housing program, but where is that in Bill C-63?

Let me close with what Dr. Cindy Blackstock said:

There's nothing new in the budget for First Nations children and their families, in child welfare, or their implementation of the Jordan's Principle, even though they've been found out of compliance with legal orders to stop that inequality. It's a moral issue: is Canada so broke that the finance minister and the Prime Minister have made a deliberate choice to discriminate against little kids?

Bill C-63 misses the mark.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 2nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be sharing my time this afternoon with my friend from Vancouver East, who I know will bring great illumination.

For my friend from Thunder Bay, before he ducks out, I held consultations with my business community in Smithers and in Terrace and received copious amounts of correspondence on his government's ham-fisted, wrong approach to the small business community. If he hearkens back to where this all generates from, he will remember that the Prime Minister, when campaigning for the job of prime minister, said that there is a large number of small businesses that are only set up to avoid paying taxes. I remember hearing that and thinking how offensive that is. It came to me later on as to why the Prime Minister and perhaps the finance minister might think that. It is because the people they associate with use the small business tax code exactly for that purpose. However, when I think of small businesses that I represent in northwestern British Columbia, I think of actual small businesses that take the risk, go out into the marketplace, and try to make some money to feed their family and employ other Canadians.

I know it is a radical thought for the Liberals that this is actually what a small business does. However, some of our Liberal colleagues who are maybe entitled to a few more entitlements than others think of small businesses in a different way. If we followed from their philosophy, then their small business tax plan made perfect sense until we actually applied it to the real world and saw that their changes would inhibit farmers from passing on their farms, fishermen from passing on their businesses, and forestry companies. All these are small businesses that I represent. Only when pushed into scandal and controversy of their own making, did the humility and the ears start to open up a bit for the Liberals and they said that maybe they did not get this small business tax thing right.

Therefore, let us look through the bill at hand today. There are 330-odd pages of something connected to the budget. It would change 20 different laws in Canada, most of them financially connected. We can say this is an “omnibus light” I suppose, yet within these 330-odd pages there are a bunch of things we do not find.

Let me start with the good stuff because that is a shorter list. With respect to the Canada Labour Code, some new flexibility has been brought in for people to take leave to allow workers to make adjustments in their personal life. In a modern economy in 2017, this is welcome. There is also some small support for a geothermal industry. As we know, and as my colleague from Vancouver East knows, there is the whole Site C controversy. We know that when governments make bad energy policies, other good energy options are suddenly forgotten. A bit more geothermal industry in Canada and British Columbia would be welcome.

Let us move to what the majority of this bill would and would not do. In the context of where we are in the Canadian economy, we saw the surprise shrinkage in the last quarterly report of 0.1% of GDP down. That kind of took everyone a bit by surprise. The Liberals are going to have to update some of their talking notes about the robust economy. What is that economy founded on right now? We see Canadians carrying around still the highest personal debt rate of any G7 country, at 167% of disposable income. That is enormous. That is worse than it was in the U.S. at the 2008 financial crisis, just to have some context of where the Canadian personal debt load is harbouring right now. We do not see anything in this bill that would address that.

We also see the exorbitant use of offshore tax havens. The Liberals will get up again and again and say they are going to go after those tax havens and that they have hired more CRA auditors to go after them. The problem with their logic, that they know is a problem, is that the CRA auditors are going after small businesses and individuals because the tax havens, the ones that the Liberals have since signed on, are legal. They allow Canadians to legally offshore if they can afford it. If they are in the top per cent of a per cent, they can pay the lawyers and they can pay the fancy accountants to move their wealth off to a place like the Cook Islands. Therefore, it is kind of strange that the Liberals would sign a new tax haven treaty with a place like the Cook Islands. I do not know about other colleagues in the House, but the small businesses and the middle class and those working hard to join it, people whom I represent, are not able or interested in offshoring their wealth to the Cook Islands. Maybe it is friends of the finance minister who do this kind of thing, or maybe the Prime Minister himself. I am not sure, because we do not know a lot of what they hold, which is again the context of where we are in talking about all of this today.

We also see the stock option loophole. I had a small business before I entered politics and when I contracted out I did not pay people in stock options. When I talk to my middle-class friends and those working hard to join the middle class, I am told that they are not paid in stock options because it is not a normal procedure. In the last election, we New Democrats had actually said that it costs the treasury every year about $800 million, give or take, according to Statistics Canada and Finance Canada numbers. That is $800 million of forgone tax revenue.

We said that does not really generate anything for the Canadian economy. I know it generates more Ferrari sales. It might get a person another villa in France. However, it does not actually do anything for the working people of this country. Maybe we should close those loopholes.

Who agreed with the NDP on this? The Liberals agreed with us. Imagine that; they just cuddled right up to that policy on the left and said to Canadians, “Yes, us too”. We probably should have known better. When we appoint a finance minister like this one, the idea that he would ever do anything to hurt any of his friends at the country club should have been obvious to everybody.

The stock option loophole remains. It is going to cost us another $800 million this year, and next year, as it did last year. People want to know: what benefit does that get us, how many more kids does that help out of poverty, and how many more seniors does that help? Does it help on innovation? No, it does not, because there is a way to close that loophole that allows the true innovators in the tech sector or pharmaceuticals to start new companies off in a proper way, using stock options, not the Bay Street crowd, who just do not need that third villa or that fifth Maserati.

The question to the government is whether it actually believes anything it campaigned on. We are two years in. We are at the midway point. We see what it did to electoral reform. It was the thinnest of veils. When it came down to the point of actually delivering, the Prime Minister said something that hits the arrogance metre at a new level. He said that it was his decision to make, and he chose to make it. That is fascinating. That is a new structure of government that I am not used to, where people elect an individual member of Parliament, that party goes on to form a government, and suddenly the prime minister is bequeathed with all this power, so that he gets to make the electoral decisions he wants. We see that around poverty and other issues.

Let me return to this not-omnibus, near-omnibus bill, and it was the finance minister who sponsored this bill. We have asked him, time and again, to tell us something simple, in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest—which is the Prime Minister's standard, by the way: not just not being in a conflict of interest but not giving the appearance of being in a conflict of interest.

We know the finance minister has at least five numbered companies. For Canadians who do not have numbered companies, which is most Canadians, a numbered company allows members to avoid things like with the Ethics Commissioner. Members can have shares that they control—which they would not be allowed to do if it was in their name—in a numbered company, and as soon as it is moved into a numbered company, they can keep control of those shares that are now in a numbered company and beyond the touch of the Ethics Commissioner.

That is fascinating. The finance minister owns other numbered companies. He has two options when he will not tell us what is in them. One of the options is something the minister does not think he needs to do. The Prime Minister said ministers' personal affairs should bear the fullest public scrutiny. That means the public should know what is going on with the personal affairs, the financial affairs of everybody in cabinet. That is broken.

The second option is, with those numbered companies, if the finance minister actually followed through on that commitment that he made too, we would find out that there are other conflicts of interest. We saw this with the whole charade around Bill C-27. We saw this when we offered up a vote to the Liberals. Everyone can remember this; it was just recently. We asked for two simple things. We said that we thought an apology is owed from the finance minister for this entire ethical mess of his own making. We also said we should close those ethical loopholes that have been exploited.

What did the Liberals in good standing do? One after another, they all stood and said no. Canadians are a forgiving people in my experience. If people screw up and it was unintended and they say, “Sorry about that, I didn't mean to do that; here's my apology and here's how I'm going to make good”, most Canadians I know would respect that. That is about being a person of integrity, or a party of a integrity.

What we see from the party, from information, to access to information, and on down the line, is a government that does not believe in its own commitments that it made.

I know our friend from Winnipeg North will be tempted to jump up and say, “Oh, we're such a wonderful government.” However, he has to bear in mind that the promises he made to Canadians, the promises the Prime Minister made, in offering so much hope and change, are starting to look a bit weak, as day after day goes on and promise after promise falls off the attention, and the Liberals' latest argument is that it is better than Stephen Harper's government. I wonder how that pitch would have actually worked. The best argument the Liberals use, to be precise, is that Stephen Harper did it too.

If the Prime Minister had gotten up said this was his commitment to them, that he would do more or less what Stephen Harper did, when all those Liberals voters went out to vote, I am not sure the Liberals would be sitting where they are right now. That is the way elections go.

Having to get parties to actually keep their promises is the job that we are doing now, and on the bill before us, the Liberals missed an opportunity to get it right.

EthicsOral Questions

November 2nd, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, are these ethical standards if the Liberals cannot even enforce the bare minimum they should be following?

The Prime Minister is showing his contempt for the House, which is calling for explanations for his ethical lapses and those of his government.

However, the facts are clear. This Prime Minister is still under investigation for his trip to the Aga Khan's private island. The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has identified one, two, three, four minsters who are using the loophole in the Conflict of Interest Act.

The commissioner is also concerned about the role the minister played in Bill C-27. This government said that it would live up to the highest ethical standards.

Why then can the government not even enforce the bare minimum?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 2nd, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will continue in the same vein as my Conservative colleagues.

I was not so much surprised as offended when I heard that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner had fined the Minister of Finance for breaking the rules by forgetting to declare his villa in France, which he hid in a company. Then again, who among us has not forgotten a villa in France, Spain, or Morocco at some point? Apparently that is the kind of thing that can happen to someone like the Minister of Finance.

He forgot, and he got his knuckles rapped for it. I want to make sure everyone at home understands the penalty this poor man is being forced to pay. He has to pay $200. This is the man who just signed a cheque for $5 million in an attempt to extricate himself from a scandal involving his shares in Morneau Shepell, which benefited from a bill that he himself introduced. No doubt that was a hard lesson for the Minister of Finance to learn from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Unfortunately, all that did was feed the public's cynicism toward politicians, the Liberal government, and the Minister of Finance. Those people are completely out of touch with reality.

I want to be sure that I am understood in both official languages. We just learned this week that the Minister of Finance was fined because he forgot to officially declare that he possessed a villa in beautiful Provence, France. That is something that probably happens to a lot of people in Canada: “Oh, yes, the villa; sorry about that. I just forgot.”

He got caught, and then received a slap on the hand, a big one. It was a hard lesson for him, I guess. It was $200 for contravening the code of ethics. We are talking about the same minister who just recently said he would write a $5 million cheque to try to get out of a scandal. It was a scandal because the minister tabled legislation, Bill C-27, that directly profits his own company. He made millions of dollars on that. Then, because he got caught, he said, “Okay, I'm a rich man. I can fix that. I'm going to write a cheque for $5 million.” Now, the minister has received a fine of $200. That poor man, it must be a really hard week for him.

I am making a joke about that, but seriously, it is only increasing the cynicism of this country's citizens. During the last campaign, the Liberals said they wanted to reinstate trust in our democratic institutions. They wanted people to stop being cynical about the political class.

Since the Liberals were elected, they have been doing the opposite. They are breaking promises. They are tabling legislation that profits themselves and their friends on Bay Street, the elite of this country. As NDP members, we think this is completely wrong. They are going in the wrong direction. We have to point that out, and say it loudly and clearly.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 2nd, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise to members of this House, I am sure, nor indeed to Canadians across the country, to hear that the Minister of Finance has been subject to a fair bit of scrutiny over the last number of weeks, particularly with regard to conflicts of interest around Bill C-27 and his personal holdings in Morneau Shepell.

When asked about that in question period, when the time for questions and responses is very short, the finance minister likes to start talking about his fiscal measures. Presumably, the introduction of this bill would be very important to the Minister of Finance.

Therefore, I find it passing strange that the opening speech was given by the parliamentary secretary. Is that because the Minister of Finance did not want to be subject to a 10-minute question period by members of this House?

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask for unanimous consent for the following motion:

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the order for second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Finance of Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, be discharged and the bill withdrawn from the Order Paper.

EthicsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 3:05 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is truly amazing is he can say all of that with a straight face.

We did some quick research as to how many Canadians in the riding of Toronto Centre benefited from the introduction of Bill C-27. We found one. It was the finance minister. He gained $2 million in four days. It is remarkable.

The Prime Minister says he respects Parliament so much that he looks at serious ethical violations and calls them noise. He is worried about the young people so much that he just spent an hour not answering a single direct question from the opposition.

Will he end all of this, and this is the only way to do it, will he end his attack—

EthicsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the head honcho at Morneau Shepell told investors in 2013 that legislation was required to open up that lucrative Canadian market to attack defined pensions. As minister, he gave them Bill C-27 and, voila, stocks in Morneau Shepell went through the roof. He made “gazoodles” of money, and now he has been found guilty of what, a $200 fine?

The Prime Minister calls that raising the bar. That is more like an open bar for Morneau Shepell. Meanwhile, Canadian pensioners remain at the mercy of that privatized pension king of Bay Street.

Will the Prime Minister withdraw Bill C-27 and put his minister in his place?

EthicsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the scandal surrounding the Minister of Finance has become the Prime Minister's kryptonite.

The minister introduced a rotten bill, Bill C-27, which made shares in his company, Morneau Shepell, go up. When the minister was caught red-handed making money while in a conflict of interest, he admitted his guilt and said that he would pay everything back.

Is that what life is like in the wonderful world of millionaires? When you get into trouble, you get out the cheque book and assume that $5 million will make everything go away?

If the Minister of Finance is not living on another planet far away from middle-class Canadians, he will withdraw Bill C-27.

PensionsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, why has Morneau Shepell been asking for legislation to enable targeted benefit pension plans for years? Because these plans are good for its clients and the employers, but not so good for the employees.

Tabling a bill that places the burden of risk and accountability on pensioners is not working for the middle class; it is working for corporate interests.

Will the Prime Minister stop spewing talking points about the middle class and really help them by withdrawing Bill C-27?

PensionsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, in late 2015, the president and CEO of Morneau Shepell said the company viewed transferring pension risk from employers to employees as one of its biggest business opportunities.

By a strange coincidence, Bill C-27, a bill designed to do just that, was tabled a few months later by the Minister of Finance.

If the Prime Minister loves the middle class so much, why did he let his finance minister table a bill that attacks workers' pensions in order to line his cronies' pockets?

EthicsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that one of the talking points the Prime Minister is using today is “we believe in helping those who need it”. I am just wondering if he could clarify, when he said that, if he meant helping the Minister of Finance, who holds stocks in a company that saw a share price increase after he introduced Bill C-27.

PensionsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, maybe he can answer this question since he did not answer the others.

How can the Prime Minister say his government is working for the middle class when it has put forward a bill with the sole intent of shifting the risk of pension plans from the employer to the employee? That is not working for the middle class; that is working for the wealthy and well-connected.

The fact that the Prime Minister is still considering going forward with this bill, which would have huge impacts on middle-class workers, proves that he is completely disconnected from the middle class.

I have a simple question. Will he do what is right and withdraw Bill C-27?

PensionsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP and the unions have sounded the alarm regarding Bill C-27, a bill that puts the Liberals' rich corporate friends first, ahead of our workers and pensioners.

The risk associated with pensions is going to shift from employers to employees. Today my colleague is going to move a motion calling for the withdrawal of that bill, which is the right thing to do.

The Prime Minister is fond of saying that he is working for the middle class.

Will he do right by our workers and pensioners and withdraw Bill C-27?

EthicsOral Questions

November 1st, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that during the Senate expense scandal in 2013 the current Prime Minister tweeted, “Conservative ethics abuses have shaken Canadians' faith in Parliament. It's time to #raisethebar on accountability”.

After the cash for access scandal, the investigation into the Prime Minister's vacation on the Aga Khan's private island, and the scandal involving his finance minister and Bill C-27, does the Prime Minister still believe that he did “#raisethebar” on accountability?