Mr. Speaker, it is easy to see from the large number of amendments prepared on the subject that the opposition is not in favour of making changes to the current appeal process.
I cannot speak for the opposition, but the Liberal Party of Canada believes that our seniors deserve the best. With the proposed changes to the appeal system we would be giving them the opportunity to have their decisions reviewed as quickly and fairly as possible under the best system we can offer.
Motion No. 12 is intriguing. By the debate that is taking place, we see it is also very frustrating and confusing for the members of the official opposition versus members of the third party opposite. The battle that is going on between the two clearly reveals to me and to other members of the House of Commons that there is no simple answer to the very complex operations of any great government such as we have in Canada. Simple solutions just do not exist.
However, both parties have for some time, close to 18 months, been advocating simple solutions to extremely complex problems. I am just wondering after this lengthy period of time whether or not that is a deliberate attempt, or perhaps it is simply a matter of fact, that both parties lack the ability to comprehend the complexity and profound depth of these government operations. Perhaps they are deliberately trying to confuse Canadians with these simplistic solutions and are therefore misguiding the voting population.
We should begin by noting that the Canada pension plan review tribunals hear thousands of cases every year, thousands. These cases often are very complex. The legislation is also complex. They are sometimes very difficult to adjudicate.
With human beings involved, mistakes are sometimes made by these tribunals. When this occurs the minister must with great reluctance appeal the decision to the pension appeal board. This is only done where there are the clearest indications that a mistake has been made. Nonetheless, the department records indicate that 45 review tribunal decisions that were appealed by the minister to the pension appeal board were in fact overturned by that body. That 45 represents 80 per cent of the decisions that were made and rendered in 1994. Had the minister followed what appears to be the preference of the opposition and paid benefits before he was absolutely certain they should be paid, these 45 people would have been in the unfortunate position of having to repay money to the government. Imagine the shock these 45 people would have received if they had opened their mail and discovered they had to pay back thousands of dollars immediately. Naturally, they would be in the position where they would have no assets, no funds, simply because they live from cheque to cheque.
Therefore, closer examination of this motion, which the opposition claims will give better service to clients, will in fact reveal that many of those clients are put in a position where they have large overpayments that must be repaid, because the government is paying benefits before it is certain about entitlement. We must not allow that to happen.
For all these reasons, I oppose Motion No. 12 and urge all hon. members to do the same.