Motion No. 1
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring the title as follows:
“An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (deletion of deduction from annuity)”
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 1 as follows:
“1. Subsection 2(1) of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:
“Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings” has the same meaning as in the Canada Pension Plan.”
Motion No. 3
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 2 as follows:
“2. Paragraph 5(1)(a) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(a) four per cent of the portion of his or her salary that is less than or equal to the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings; and”
Motion No. 4
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 3 as follows:
“3. (1) Subsections 15(2), (2.1) and (3) of the Act are repealed.
(2) Subsection 15(7) of the Act is repealed.”
Motion No. 5
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 4 as follows:
“4. The portion of section 40 of the Act before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:
40. (1) If, on the death of a contributor who, on ceasing to be a member of the Canadian Forces, was entitled to an immediate annuity or an annual allowance, there is no person to whom an allowance provided in this Part may be paid, or where the persons to whom such allowance may be paid die or cease to be entitled to it and no other amount may be paid to them under this Part, any amount by which the calculated amount, within the meaning of subsection (2), exceeds the aggregate of all amounts paid to those persons and to the contributor under this Part or Part V of the former Act shall be paid”
Motion No. 6
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 5 as follows:
“5. Subparagraph 42(1.1)(a)(i) of the Act is replaced by the following
(i) four per cent of the portion of his or her salary that is less than or equal to the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings, and”
Motion No. 7
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 6 as follows:
“6. Paragraph 50(1)(k) of the Act is repealed.”
Motion No. 8
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 7 as follows:
“7. Subsection 3(1) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:
“Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings” has the same meaning as in the Canada Pension Plan.”
Motion No. 9
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 8 as follows:
“8. Paragraph 5(1)(a) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(a) four per cent of the portion of his or her pay that is less than or equal to the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings; and”
Motion No. 10
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 9 as follows:
“9. (1) Subsections 10(2), (2.1) and (3) of the Act are repealed.
(2) Subsection 10(7) of the Act is repealed.”
Motion No. 11
That Bill C-201 be amended by restoring Clause 10 as follows:
“10. Paragraph 26(g) of the Act is repealed.”
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak again to Bill C-201. For those who are listening and for those in the House, I will give a little history on Bill C-201.
About five years ago, three ex-service personnel came to my office and discussed with me the concerns of what they called the clawback of their military pensions at age 65, as well as the Canada pension deductions, or clawbacks when members were disabled and collected Canada pension disability, as related to their superannuation. Those three men were John Labelle, Roger Boutin and Mel Pittman, all of Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.
These fine gentlemen have petitioned people across the country, to the point where close to 125,000 individuals have written and talked about this issue. The territorial legislature of Yukon is fully supportive of it. The provincial government of Nova Scotia and the other two provincial parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, have all agreed to it in their debates as well.
We are trying to ensure that the men and women who serve our country, the RCMP and the Canadian military, have financial dignity when they require it.
The premise began in 1966. When the Canada pension plan came into being, the government split the contributions of deductions to superannuation and to the Canada pension plan. The problem was nobody in the military was advised that this would happen to them. This was a decision made without their knowledge and without their consent. It was done on their behalf, not knowing that years later, when they retired, what they would receive was a CPP, Canada pension plan, or QPP, Quebec pension plan, deduction from their superannuation.
We have said very clearly that nobody, when they become disabled or when they turn 65, should lose money.
It fundamentally works like this in the disabled aspect. I know a gentleman who is an RCMP officer. After 30 years of service, he became disabled and had to leave the RCMP. He received 64% of his superannuation and then Great West Life topped it up to 75% by adding an additional 11%. After two years, Great West Life shut it off and then he had to apply for Canada pension disability.
He applied for Canada pension disability and received a lump sum of over $16,000. The first call he received was from the RCMP annuity branch, which said he owed it over $11,000. That would have been the deduction if he had received CPP from the beginning. Therefore, he had to pay all that money back. Then Great West Life told him he owed it close to $7,000 or $8,000.
Therefore, he received $16,000 and had to pay back over $19,000 because Great West Life clawed back all the money it had paid him. When he turns 65, his Canada pension disability will shut off and he will get a reduced CPP, which is deducted from his superannuation. Therefore, he loses money once again. We should not have to tell our heroes, the RCMP and our military, that this will happen to them.
I have spoken to many veterans, their families and RCMP officers across the country. Bill C-201 affects only 96,000 of them. There are 84,000 veterans of the military and 12,000 of the RCMP. We have close to 700,000 military and RCMP individuals who are retired, but this bill only applies to those who have received their superannuation, and they would have had to have served over 20 years to get that. As members know, a few years ago changes were made to the eligibility of an early pension plan and now these members have to serve 25 years to get an earlier pension plan.
Who am I talking about? The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence is a tremendous individual in the House of Commons. He served 30 years in the Air Force and I believe he flew fighter jets as well. The former minister of defence, who I believe now is the whip of the Conservative Party, also was a general. These men have served their country. They are just two in the House, but there are many across the country who have gallantly put their lives on the line so we could all have a good night's sleep.
I remind everybody that when the men and women of the armed forces and the RCMP sign on the bottom line, they have unlimited liability. We in Parliament, whether in government or in opposition, have the ultimate responsibility of looking after their needs.
I have spoken to so many individuals who in their career have moved, in some cases 17 times, across the country and internationally. In many cases their spouses were not able to hold down jobs. If potential employers found out that the husband, for example, was in the service, they probably would not hire the wife because the family was constantly moving. The spouse lost the opportunity to contribute to his or her own pension plan.
Again, these men and women are the heroes of our country. These are the men and women who allow us to have a good night's sleep. With this bill, I am trying to ensure that their financial needs are met when they turn 65.
Is the government doing anything legally wrong? No, it is not. It is following the rules according to what happened in 1966. That is a fact. If the government were to follow what we have suggested, the average person of the 96,000 I am talking about would receive about $200 extra a month in total allotment.
What the government has refused to say is that they would receive less in old age security payments and in some cases less in GIS, and that would be a saving for the government. In some cases some of these individuals may end up in a higher tax bracket and would be taxed on that.
Most important, what would the average disabled veterans or RCMP officers or those who retired at age 65 do with these additional funds? They would pump that money right back into the economy.
What we are talking about in many cases is fairness and respect and financial dignity for these individuals when they retire.
Let us go over a few things that have happened this week alone when it comes to our veterans.
There is a long-term care facility in Cape Breton that has been refused money to get a proper kitchen area to feed hot meals to veterans.
We have found out that today one of the hospitals in London, Ontario, will shut down 72 beds over the next year. That is 72 hospital beds for veterans that will no longer be eligible for those we call the modern-day veteran. We also found out that Allied veterans cannot have access to hospital beds in this country.
We also found out that the government is still refusing to have a public inquiry into agent orange, even though it promised that when in opposition.
We also found out that the current Prime Minister, when he was in opposition, promised that all widows and widowers of VIP would receive it, immediately, not some of them and not under strict criteria.
These are some of the problems veterans and their families are having.
I was asked by these three gentlemen, Roger, Mel and John, if there was any way this could be fixed and if legislation could be brought forward to assist them. That is exactly what we have done.
I do not want members to get me wrong. There are certain things the government has done, with the previous government, to improve the lot of veterans and their families. The new veterans charter is an example of moving the yardsticks forward. Is it perfect? No. That is why committees are examining the veterans charter right now. There is so much more the government could be doing.
What I found quite despicable the other day was the Prime Minister of Canada on Easter Saturday standing at a Calgary food bank and filling up a hamper, a food bank designed specifically for veterans. Under no circumstances should any veteran or family member ever have to go to a food bank. That is despicable, and the Conservatives should hang their heads in shame for that.
The reality is that Bill C-201 is affordable. Even the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence said it would cost about $100 million, and he is absolutely correct. However, if we take in all the savings the government could have, this is an investment in our veterans and in our RCMP members and their families.
My party and I firmly believe that the men and women who serve our country deserve our greatest gratitude. They deserve to have this bill passed through the House of Commons.