Mr. Speaker, with a pension plan such as the one before us, in order to see if it is fair we must consider two main criteria, one of which is fairness, based on the type of people who benefit from that plan, because all kinds of situations must be anticipated. Some people will receive their pension benefit simply because they have reached pensionable age, while others will receive benefits because they are in a particular situation, including people with disabilities and surviving spouses.
For example, when one member of a couple dies and the surviving member keeps the house, the costs involved are the same as before, even though there is only one occupant. So, there is an issue of fairness that must be taken into account, based on the social values of a country such as Canada, in Quebec or any other province.
The other criterion regarding the fairness in the rate of return is whether or not the plan grew adequately. If people contributed to the plan, but the government did not manage to get optimum benefits from such contributions, it will not be in a position to pay an adequate amount. This is why sending statements to each contributor to the plan, so they know what is going on, and receiving progress reports on efficiency and profitability are part of the assessment process of the rate of return. The $1 to $8 ratio does not automatically mean the gain is satisfactory.
It may be that better management of the plan would have resulted in $10 being paid to the member, instead of $8. Or was $8 the maximum achievable? We must look at these factors.
Fairness and efficiency are definitely the two criteria that must be taken into account when determining whether the plan is satisfactory.
A major consideration for 1997, and for future years, is the issue of intergenerational fairness, of fairness of treatment between young people and older people. This issue involves many aspects. I discussed it with the hon. member for Témiscamingue, who is lucky enough to be part of the first group, the young people. He told me that, as things stand, a 25 year-old person will have to contribute during all his productive years at a rather high rate. That person will always pay a rather significant amount. However, if the government had reduced UI premium rates, while rapidly increasing contributions to the Canada pension plan, people who currently contribute to the plan, but who are 40, 45, 50 or 55 years old, would have shouldered a greater burden, because they would have contributed more than young people.
So, these considerations must be looked into. We must not forget that those who already receive benefits under the plan will not be adversely affected. They are entitled to the plan, and this is fine. However, we could do more for young people.