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Evidence of meeting #20 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was dates.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marc Wyczynski  Counsel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Department of Justice
Shelley Rossignol  Senior Analyst, Pension Policy, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Lydia Scratch  Committee Researcher
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Michel Marcotte

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

That's it for me.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

Mr. Martin.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I was simply going to ask our technical experts. In order to achieve what Mr. Ménard very capably laid out, what change could be possible within the context of Bill C-18 to enable this, to have the period of time as a cadet be considered and added to your pension benefits?

May 7th, 2009 / 11:35 a.m.

Senior Analyst, Pension Policy, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Shelley Rossignol

It's not within the scope of Bill C-18. The reason is that we would have to have a brand new clause to allow members to elect for cadet time to count as pensionable service and service in the force.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

That would be ruled out of order because it wouldn't be an amendment to the bill, would it, Mr. Chair?

Just before I cede the floor, I think part of the problem is that the people who crafted the bill in its original form didn't consider that period of time that you were a cadet as being time as an employee. I think modern labour relations jurisprudence would consider that if that cadet, for that six-month period, is under the direction and control of the RCMP and they're getting any kind of remuneration for that time, they are for the purposes of any employment standards act, federally or provincially, an employee.

I'm a carpenter by trade, and the period of time that I was an apprentice was certainly a time.... Even though your employer is not paying you for the period of time you're an apprentice, it's all part of your employment history, and those periods of time are part of your pensionable service later on.

I'll leave it at that. Thank you.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

Mr. MacKenzie, did you want to add something?

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Maybe I can cloud it even more.

What happens here is not unique. Quebec has the same thing. La Sûreté du Québec and I believe the Montreal Urban Community Police have the same thing. They are not considered to be employees during that training period. I think what happened is that you had somebody bring something forward to you and you maybe haven't had enough time to look at the broad aspects.

In 1995 the change came. Up until 1995 the RCMP cadets were a part of the force employees, if you will. With all due respect, Mr. Martin, police officers are different from carpenters. There are issues with respect to employment and disemployment that are totally different. Police agencies, for a variety of reasons in a number of locations, including in Quebec and the RCMP, changed these systems. Consequently, they are not considered to be employees, and the money that they receive, which we instituted a year ago, the $500, is considered an honorarium.

Now, the other part that is a bigger picture of this is that all the police agencies have something different. Some of them pay for their tuition. Some of them pay for their accommodation. To try to put this into this context is impossible, and I think the technical people here can tell you about a whole variety of other issues that would be raised.

I think what's happened is that it got sidelined a little bit because of one aspect that maybe should be dealt with at some other place at some other time, if that's the will of the people representing the members of the force.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

Monsieur Ménard.

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

I understand your argument. This definition could affect other parts of the act.

The provision in question begins with: “For the purposes of this Part [...]“. This part deals with superannuation. With respect to incorporating officers from other police forces, a different definition than the one that applies pursuant to section 31.1 pertaining to superannuation would apply.

This definition is therefore limited to this particular part of the act and does not apply to any other parts. It applies only to superannuation and covers officers who join the RCMP in mid career, but not cadets who went through RCMP training.

The proposed clause 9 reads as follows:

31.1 For the purposes of this Part, paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of the definition “service in the Force“ [...]“

The definition applies solely for the purposes of this part, not other parts, of the act.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

I think the issue is that the bill just deals with the transference of retirement benefits. The section that you're dealing with here deals with disability. That's what is creating some of the confusion.

I suggest to you, sir, that you're not entirely wrong. But there is another time and another place that this issue should be brought forward, and it's not in this bill.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

I think the departmental witnesses here are trying to signal that Monsieur Ménard's amendment would change the definition in part 2. But merely changing the definition in part 2 would not allow him to achieve the objective he has of allowing the accrual of pension benefits, as would normally happen and as he apparently wishes to provide for here.

The section looks like it changes the definition of service for the whole act. It doesn't. It would only apply to things like death benefits rather than the pensionable service benefit.

So it doesn't mean it's out of order. It doesn't mean we can't pass it. It probably means it doesn't accomplish the objective that I think Monsieur Ménard was looking for.

The chair has noted potential difficulties in relation to the Income Tax Act in relation to the royal recommendation and in terms of the scope of the bill. But could I confirm for the record that adopting this amendment and implementing it--whether or not there would be a charge to the consolidated revenue fund--might trigger the need for a changed or additional royal recommendation.

11:40 a.m.

Senior Analyst, Pension Policy, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Shelley Rossignol

The problem is that putting an amendment in there to refer to the cadet time won't function in any manner because it's not part of service in the force to begin with, because they're not sworn in as members of the force. That is where it does go back to that income tax issue in order to solve that.

We would have to have a brand new provision in the act to allow cadets to elect for that time. That is where we did the research, consulted with CRA, and we were unable even to contemplate that because of the tax restriction, because they are not an employee.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

Monsieur Ménard, do you have any other questions on this?

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

No, but I would be prepared to withdraw the amendment in exchange for some guarantees. I'm not sure how that would work, but if we could get some assurance that this thorny issue will be addressed and a satisfactory resolution sought as quickly as possible, then I would be willing to withdraw the amendment. I would imagine that an undertaking given here would serve the purpose.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

There's an offer to withdraw the amendment. With the consent of members the amendment can be withdrawn. Is there consent to withdraw the amendment?

(Amendment withdrawn)

Thank you, colleagues.

The chair will just note that there's a perception among members here of an inequity related to service as a cadet with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Mr. MacKenzie is aware of it, the witnesses from the department are aware of it, as are the members here. So at the last meeting I indicated we might seek a way to flag and communicate this issue, either to our sister committee, the public safety committee, and/or to the minister, and/or to the House, depending on the rules.

So if that's acceptable, we'll do that.

Mr. McTeague.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Chair, on your point, I would just take the word “inequity” and replace it with “inequities”. I think several have been raised.

I appreciate Mr. MacKenzie's explanations. What we were looking for two days ago would have been very helpful. It would equally be helpful, at the direction of the chair, that.... Mr. MacKenzie, if I could....

11:45 a.m.

A voice

Sorry.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

No problem.

If your gentleman wants to come before us, I'll ask him a question as well.

Mr. Chair, I just want to make it clear to Mr. MacKenzie that the committee has heard and has received several concerns with respect to civilian versus rank and file--civilian issues dealing with merit and bonus pay, as well as the issue that is before us with respect to the six-month period.

I would hope that you would take back to your minister in the very strongest terms the concern the committee has that these things ought to be addressed forthwith. I of course accept the withdrawal of Mr. Ménard's proposal.

Thank you, Chair.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

The amendment BQ-1 to clause 9 having been withdrawn, I'll put clause 9 unamended.

(Clauses 9 to 17 inclusive agreed to on division)

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

Shall the title carry?

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

Shall the bill carry?

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Derek Lee

Shall the chair report the bill to the House?

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.