House of Commons Hansard #213 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.


Public Sector Pension Investment BoardGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have before us Bill C-78, an act to amend the Public Service Superannuation Act, the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.

The proposed amendments touch the full range of pension operations: benefits, contributions and plan administration. The underlying thrust of all of these proposed amendments is to ensure the long term sustainability of the Canadian public service pension plans.

I propose to direct my remarks today to one particular aspect of these amendments, the proposed changes to employee contribution rates. Before I discuss the proposed changes, I think it is important that I give a brief overview of the existing contribution rate provisions.

A review of the existing legislative provisions will provide a rationale and context for the proposed amendments. Under the existing legislative provisions, employee contributions to the Canada pension plan, CPP, and the public service pension plans are integrated. But what does integrated mean?

The existing integration feature is such that the total contribution rate for an employee is 7.5% of pay composed of both the contributions to the CPP and the public service pension plans. For an employee earning the average wage, the contribution to the public service pension plans would be 7.5% minus the CPP contribution rate, currently at 3.5% of pay, which equals 4% of pay. To the extent that the CPP contribution rates increase, there is an equivalent decline in the public service pension plan contribution rate to preserve the constraint that the maximum pension contribution equals 7.5% of pay.

In the past, with periods of relative stability in contribution rates, this integrated approach has served the public service pension plans well. However, under the integrated contribution rate structure, the increase in CPP contribution rates beginning in 1987 has distorted the distribution of employee contributions going to the CPP and the public service pension plans.

Under the integrated structure, the impact of the increases in CPP rates has been such that for employees earning the average wage, contributions to the public service pension plans have declined from 5.7% of pay in 1986 to 4% of pay in 1999. To reiterate, over the past decade, individual employee contribution rates for the CPP have gone up, while those for the public service pension plans have declined. What are the implications of this shift in the distribution of employee contributions between the CPP and the public service pension plans?

To this point I have discussed only employee contribution rates. The other side of the coin of course is the employer contributions, that is the contribution of the federal government in its role as employer.

Existing legislation for the public service pension plans is such that the employer must ensure that the various accounts for the public service pension plans are credited with an amount equal to the total cost of entitlements accrued by employees in that year.

In other words, the federal government is responsible for the total costs of the plan in a given year, less the employee contributions. As a consequence of the declining employee contribution rates, the federal government, and by extension taxpayers, has had to shoulder an ever increasing share of the cost of employee pension plans.

Let me use the pension plan under the Public Service Superannuation Act as an example. Over the last three decades the financing of that plan has averaged approximately 60% employer funding and 40% employee funding. More recently that distribution has shifted rather dramatically. For 1999 the distribution is approximately 70% employer and 30% employee. Next year in the absence of any changes to the legislation it is projected that the distribution of the financing of the PSSA plan will shift to approximately 75%-25% and by 2003 it will be 80%-20% in favour of the employee.

This ongoing shift in the cost of the pension plan to the employer is not sustainable. It clearly puts the viability of the existing plan at risk unless changes are made. It is our intention to introduce the necessary changes to the contribution rate structure in order to preserve the long term sustainability of the public service pension plans.

With the amendments proposed in Bill C-78, contribution rates for the public service plans and the Canada pension plan will no longer be integrated. In other words, the public service contribution rates will henceforth be set independently and there will be no overall maximum contribution rate. In addition, there will be a two tier contribution rate structure to more directly match contribution rates with the different benefit accruals below and above the average wage as defined by the CPP.

This government recognizes that there will be a financial impact on employees as a result of these changes. In order to facilitate the movement to a long term sustainable pension plan environment, the government is proposing to freeze employee contribution rates to public service pension plans over the period 2000 to 2003 inclusive. Over this period, employee contributions on earnings below the average wage as defined by the CPP will continue at the present 1999 rate of 4%. Contributions on earnings above that average will continue at the present rate of 7.5%.

It must be understood however, that even though federal employees will thus be spared any increases in contribution rates for their public service pensions from 2000 through to 2003, they will nevertheless be subject to Canada pension plan rate increases scheduled for that period, the same CPP rate increases to which all working Canadians alike will be subject. Through integration of contributions, federal employees in effect have been sheltered from such increases in the past. Now they will have to pay for them like the rest of us.

Fortunately the CPP rate is scheduled to stabilize in the year 2004. What of the public service rates then? Will they rise in 2004 after being frozen for four years? Possibly, but not necessarily.

For the year 2004 and beyond, Treasury Board will set the contribution rate structure with the ability to return the cost sharing ratio gradually to the historical average of approximately 60%-40% between the employer and employees. The employer would continue to assume the larger share.

Employee contribution rate increases may or may not be necessary from 2004 on, depending on a number of variables. However, any necessary increases would be gradual. For example, the members of the pension plan under the Public Service Superannuation Act can rest assured that no increase in their public service pension contribution rate will be greater than an additional .4%, not 4%, but .4% in any single year after 2003.

If an increase proves necessary in 2004, the contribution rate will still not be more than 4.4% of salary up to the average wage and 7.9% of the employee's salary over that average, that is, the previous rate of 7.5% plus the maximum possible increase of .4%.

PSSA plan members can also rest assured under the amended legislation that their employee share of current service cost for their pension plan will never exceed 40%. In other words, their contribution rates will not be increased beyond the point where they are paying their historical average cost of 40%. The historical average therefore will also be a limit under the amended legislation.

As for members of the other two public service plans, that is those under the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, the legislation will provide that their contribution rates will not exceed those of PSSA members.

Amendments to the contribution rate structure are one component of the package of changes required to ensure the long term sustainability of public service pension plans. This bill provides as part of a comprehensive package of amendments the required changes in the contribution rate structure to ensure that the public service pension plans will be sustainable over the longer term.

Public Sector Pension Investment BoardGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The member is about halfway through. He still has some time and we will return to him right after question period. We will now go to Statements by Members.

The BalkansStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today and am pleased to inform the House and all Canadians a delegation of Serbian Canadians visited me in parliament last Friday to discuss peace in the Balkans.

During this visit the delegation was given the opportunity to express its views to the Prime Minister. The delegates spoke about their concerns with regard to the ongoing crisis in Yugoslavia. They put forth their view that Canada should stop its bombing of Yugoslavia and convince its NATO allies to do the same. They believe that only through diplomatic effort can true peace be achieved.

The Prime Minister assured the delegates he has taken the initiative to bring a stop to the conflict and will continue to do so. He also said that he would raise the matter with the Chinese premier, which he later did. The Prime Minister concluded by saying that he shares their fears for the lives of the innocent population stuck in the conflict.

I and I am sure all Canadians are hoping that a peaceful solution to this grave crisis will be arrived at soon.

TaxationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, last year a 61 year old lady in my riding earned a total income of just over $11,000. This is less than the accommodation allowance granted members of parliament. In addition to paying her Canada pension and employment insurance premiums, this lady had to pay over $650 in federal income tax. The government also took another $9.77 in surtax charges, leaving my constituent with just over $10,000 to live on.

Why is the government taking over $660 in taxes from a citizen whose income is dramatically below the poverty line? Why is this person paying any income tax at all? Is the government in such desperate need of money that it is willing to do this kind of thing to low income earners?

Is it any wonder that Canadians and Canadian businesses are on the verge of a tax revolt.

Crimes Against HumanityStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, due to the work of my colleague the member for Brampton Centre three years ago, April 20th to 27th is officially the week of remembrance of the inhumanity of people toward one another.

Today I would like to greet all those who are of Armenian heritage, and all members of the Armenian community in Montreal. My congratulations for their exceptional efforts to raise a monument in my riding of Ahuntsic.

This monument is dedicated to 1.5 million Armenians who were victims as well as to all the martyrs of crimes against humanity. It is a fine example, especially under today's events, of what can be achieved in remembrance and in reconciliation. It is also symbolic of the tolerance and social harmony that we all wish to achieve.

I call upon all Canadians to remember the legacy of this past century, especially in these times of the Kosovo crisis. In doing so, we must work together to write a new legacy which will be marked by reconciliation, peace and co-operation.

Alzheimer Society Of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, Ottawa is host to the 21st National Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. More than 300 men and women dedicated to finding a cure for this terrible disease are in attendance.

Over 300,000 Canadians suffer from Alzheimer's and related dementia. One in thirteen Canadians over the age of 65 are afflicted, as are one in three over the age of 85.

More than 50% of people suffering from Alzheimer's live outside of care facilities. Still the cost to medicare averages some $15,000 per person per year, or some $4.5 billion annually.

Early in the next century, Canada's 8.5 million baby boomers will be moving into the age group with the highest risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease. There will be unprecedented demands for health services in Canada as a result.

Today, conference delegates will be calling MPs to discuss the society's goals and the roles that legislators can play in their realization. I encourage all colleagues to meet with them.

Earth DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Larry McCormick Liberal Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, April 22, is Earth Day. It is a day to remind us that we are stewards of this beautiful planet.

The environment significantly affects our quality of life. Every human being needs clean air and water, and safe food to live. We need a biodiversity of species to help the earth, itself, sustain life.

Earth's wealth of resources are vast, with energy and raw materials to fuel our economies. However, in 100 short years we have learned the hard lesson that these resources are also finite. Today, 86% of Canadians think cleaning up the environment is good for the economy.

Rural Canadians know the value of a healthy, natural environment. From the coastal communities who harvest sea life, to the 1.9 million Canadians employed in agriculture and agri-food, our food supply relies on a renewable, healthy environment.

With grassroots-oriented programs like the Millennium Eco-Communities and the Natural Legacy 2000 initiative, the federal government wants the 20 million-plus Canadians who annually participate in nature related activities to continue growing.

On Earth Day, let all Canadians renew our commitment to a healthy earth. By example, let us teach our children to value and respect it.

Ball HockeyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the media will never again beat up on Reform. Last night the official opposition defeated the best ball hockey players the Parliamentary Press Gallery could provide, not once, but twice.

The Reform Right Wings downed the Giants of Journalism 6-4 in a ball hockey challenge. The Stornoway stars beat the media by the same 6-4 score. One would think they would improve after the first thrashing.

Star media players like Eric Sorensen, Vincent Marisal, Jim Munson and Sheldon Alberts; defencemen like Daniel Leblanc, Gilles Toupin and Feschuk; and goalie Joel-Denis Bellavance, just could not beat Reformers.

In the final, the Reform Right Wings, playing with a 50-year old wonder kid named White, nicknamed “flash” for athletic reasons only, won the championship. If the Press Gallery can get prepared for a rematch, Reformers are ready to devastate them again.

However, the media should understand, we want no whining and we in turn will report the events accurately, as they sometimes do.

Earth DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Yvon Charbonneau Liberal Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, by planting trees, cleaning up water courses, saving energy and learning more about ecology, Canadians are today celebrating Earth Day, along with millions of others throughout the world. This is a symbolic moment uniting all those concerned about protecting the health and integrity of species and human communities.

A century ago, North America was in the throes of industrial expansion. Concerns about the environment were pretty much an unknown concept at that time. Now we know that human activity that is not controlled can destroy ecosystems, render whole species extinct, and do harm to the climate and to health.

The new millennium is fast approaching. People are giving serious thought to the future, and to means of keeping the planet safe. Earth Day reminds us that, if we all work together, great things can be accomplished, and we can leave behind a healthy environment for the children of the next millennium.

Armenian PeopleStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the ethnic cleansing taking place in Kosovo at the present time is one more reminder that the 20th century will go down in history as a century of bloodshed, a century of atrocities, a century of genocides.

If such atrocities, such genocides, are to be avoided, humankind must acknowledge its responsibility, for each time crimes against humanity are committed, they are committed against each and every one of us, and by each and every one of us.

It is therefore unforgivable that this parliament has not yet acknowledged the Armenian genocide, the first genocide to take place in this century.

The Liberal Party's obstinate refusal to acknowledge this crime is shameful, but still worse, it puts a heavy responsibility on our shoulders, for refusing to acknowledge the first genocide of this century makes us bear part of the burden of, and responsibility for, those that followed.

The Bloc Quebecois recognizes the Armenian genocide, as does the Quebec National Assembly. The memory of this tragedy is a painful one, but it must be kept constantly in mind. Today, with the Armenians of Quebec, of Canada, and of the entire world—

Armenian PeopleStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Beaches—East York.

National Organ Donor WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday statements were read from both sides of the floor recognizing this week as Organ Donation Week and stressing the need for an improvement in Canada's organ donation rate.

The statistics clearly demonstrate the need for such improvements. Nevertheless, Organ Donation Week in 1999 offers a great deal of hope to Canadians that this situation can change for the better.

This morning, I and my colleagues on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health released our report on the state of organ donation and transplantation in Canada. Our recommendations highlight ways in which the federal government can work in concert with the provinces and hospitals to improve organ retrieval systems, information systems, and increase public and professional awareness.

Similar changes were implemented in Spain just 10 years ago and resulted in a radical increase in their organ donation rate. It is my sincere hope that our recommendations will lead to similar, perhaps better, success for our great country.

Member For York South—WestonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House to pay tribute to the hon. member from York South—Weston on his third anniversary as an independent member of the House.

When the Liberal government broke its promise to scrap, kill and abolish the GST, it was this man who refused to be another Liberal sheep, bleating on cue.

When the Liberal whips forced their members to vote against the wishes of their constituents on the dreaded tax, it was this man who stood alone in the Liberal caucus and said “no way”.

When the Liberals decided they had no room in their party for a man of integrity, it was this man who successfully convinced his constituents that they no longer need the tired Liberal label.

That is why tonight I am proud to join the hon. member from York South—Weston and the hon member from Markham at the united alternative town hall meeting.

Tonight, we will mark the end of unaccountable, one-party dominance in the country and mark the beginning of a united alternative to an arrogant, out of touch Liberal government.

QuebecStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the head of the Saint-Jean Baptiste society, Guy Bouthillier, and a former active separatist, Denis Minière, proposed to the Premier of Quebec that he start a new round of constitutional negotiations with the federal government.

They are looking for ways to get people to swallow the pill of Quebec's separation from the rest of Canada, an option twice rejected by a majority of Quebeckers. The separatists have understood that Quebec's separation from the rest of Canada will not go down easily. And the year 2000 is approaching rapidly. They are getting restless. We wonder whether there is not a separatist agenda hidden away somewhere in the boxes of Parti Quebecois organizers.

The separatist movement is a thing of the past. It is a concept that will lead to division, scorn and the loss of real benefits for Quebec in economic, cultural and social terms.

Bill C-78Statements By Members

April 22nd, 1999 / 2:05 p.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, maybe the government got away with taking $25 billion from the employment insurance fund and unemployed workers, but with Bill C-78, it is taking on the most powerful voting constituency in the country, senior citizens and retired pensioners.

If the government thinks seniors will sit idly by and let it take the $30 billion surplus from the public service pension plan, it would be well advised to remember what happened to Brian Mulroney when he tried to de-index the Canada pension plan.

Dozens of seniors groups are on the Hill today to show their opposition to Bill C-78: the Armed Forces Pensioners Association, the Association of Public Service Alliance Retirees, the Canadian Association of Union Retirees, the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens Organizations, the RCMP Veterans Association and many more representing millions of Canadian retirees.

All pension surpluses are the sole property of the employee. They are deferred wages to be used for nothing else than improving benefits. The message that these groups bring to Ottawa is simple, “Get your hands off our pension plan”.

Earth DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to signal Earth Day today.

First celebrated on April 22, 1970, this day has today become the most important popular environmental event worldwide.

In over 100 countries, Earth Day helps promote projects to provide an awareness of the issues involved in the environment in conjunction with communities, organizations, business and individuals.

I encourage people to find out about ways of using energy, natural resources and chemicals in order to transform used material into new and to sign the reuse pledge campaign.

Let us use this day to help make people aware that the resources of this planet are very valuable so we may keep them and pass on a healthy environment to our children and to generations to come.

By doing just one thing for the environment on Earth Day, we will be contributing to world change.

Women In The WorkforceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the message is clear. Women are gaining ground in the workforce. Statistics show that since 1980 the number of women in the workforce has increased, their job tenure is longer and their salaries have risen.

The main reason for this change is that women are becoming better educated. More than ever, education is a prerequisite for success in the workplace.

Recent statistics show that the gap between men and women is closing, even in the upper ranks of corporate Canada. While the glass ceiling is still there, it is more permeable than ever. It is not unusual to see women in executive roles. Today, over 700,000 businesses are owned by women.

Through education, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a change in society's attitude, women are aspiring to and achieving greater career heights.

To all young Canadian women, especially to my daughter, Lara Treiber, and her classmates from Bishop Strachan School, “I encourage you to make the most of your education and soar to great heights in whatever career path you may choose”.

KosovoStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Progressive Conservative Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the government on so promptly agreeing to my motion in committee on April 15, and in answering my letter of that same date to the Minister of National Defence which requested that the government brief the SCONDVA committee members several times a week on a regular basis with regard to the Kosovo conflict.

It is appreciated that the Liberal government has decided to consult with parliamentarians about this ever-escalating war. We would have much preferred separate committee briefings because of the technical nature of the information, but any movement by the government is appreciated.

Once again, I would like to remind the government of the Somalia Commission of Inquiry report that called for a vigilant parliament. The importance of parliamentary oversight of the department of defence is a vital aspect of Canadian democracy. It also gives committee members an insight into the military profession, and an opportunity to show our unwavering support for our Canadian forces in this time of conflict as NATO stands on the precipice of further action.

David MilgaardStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, David Milgaard served 23 years in Canadian prisons for a murder he did not commit.

To compensate Milgaard for that terrible injustice, the Saskatchewan government has made interim payments of $350,000, which is to be deducted from the final settlement.

David Milgaard has waited nearly two years for the final settlement but the Saskatchewan government continues to drag its feet.

Forcing Mr. Milgaard to wait for the compensation due to him is just more injustice for a man who is already deeply scarred by a criminal justice system that went terribly wrong.

“Waiting for compensation”, says Milgaard, “is like another prison sentence”.

I urge and implore the Saskatchewan government to do the right thing, pay the compensation, close this issue once and for all and let David Milgaard get on with his life.

Crimes Against HumanityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 84th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

As a result of forced relocations and massacres, up to 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire fell victim to the first genocide of this century. Such policies today are often called “ethnic cleansing”. However, the fact that these atrocities are still taking place should not detract from the horror of the Armenian experience.

Sadly, we know all too well that what happened to the Armenians was not the last time such things would occur and we should take a moment to condemn all crimes against humanity.

Some say perhaps people will no longer commit such atrocities and we must strive for this. The Armenian ethnic cleansing reminds us of the consequences of ethnic hatred. We must always guard against the forces that yield such evil.

I know the House will join me in remembering the victims of the Armenian genocide.

Member For BourassaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the member for Bourassa has jumped at an opportunity to feign indignation at our party.

This time, he is incensed that last weekend the general council of the Bloc Quebecois defined a Quebecker as anyone living in Quebec. Hardly something to get all hot and bothered about, is it?

The member for Bourassa has provided me with an opportunity to remind this House of a statement he made in May, 1996, about Mr. Nunez, a member of Chilean origin. He said that sometimes he felt like restoring the deportation act and sending back to their country those who spit on the Canadian flag. Such is the intolerance of this holier-than-thou member.

My colleague might like to know that I too should be sent back to my native land. I was born in Belgium. But, like Mr. Nunez, I have never spit on the Canadian flag, which I respect as the flag of a country with which a sovereign Quebec will want to be friends.

Until that wonderful day comes, I say to my colleague that I am a Quebecker through and through and proud of it.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Americans are now talking about committing more than $25 billion to the war effort in Yugoslavia. Our allies are planning and budgeting for an escalation of the war in Kosovo. Yet the government does not seem to have a specific plan. We want to make sure that our troops have the resources to be able to do their job over there.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister have an estimate of what the costs will be, or is he waiting for NATO to tell him how much to spend?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

York Centre Ontario


Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated yesterday, the costs so far for the deployment into Aviano and for the other involvements of the Canadian forces have been a total of $32.4 million to date. This started when the first six CF-18s were deployed into Aviano last June.

Since the air campaign began the total cost for the Canadian forces has been $11.9 million. We are in the throes of putting together the figures of other costs. As soon as we have those costs and projections we will be happy to make them available.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been some weeks now since we have been asking this question and there is still nothing coming from the government side.

Canada is on the verge of going into a ground war. Yet we still do not know how much it has cost just to involve ourselves in the air strikes. The defence budget has been cut by $7.8 billion since 1993. The current budget leaves no room for air strikes. It leaves no room for ground defence. Our troops, and the Prime Minister will recall, were given axe handles to protect themselves in Macedonia.

What assurances can the Prime Minister give our troops that they will have the right equipment to go to war?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

York Centre Ontario


Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our Canadian forces do have the right equipment and will have the right equipment to use in this air campaign and in any other involvement they have with respect to Yugoslavia, including our peacekeepers who are being prepared for a peacekeeping mission when that time should come.

I have indicated quite clearly what the costs are to this point in time. I do not understand what part of $32 million or what part of $12 million the hon. member does not understand. Those are our costs.