Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-25.
After listening to the debate in the House this afternoon, I must say that I was quite shocked at some of the comments I heard coming from across the floor. The suggestion that all our problems with pension plans can be solved by just increasing the CPP is a misleader. We know that when the finance ministers met and discussed the potential of increasing CPP premiums and benefits that there was no consensus. To have a change in CPP, we need to have the agreement of two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of Canadians. However, there was not enough consensus around the table to move forward on increasing benefits in the Canadian pension plan. That is why we came forward with the pooled registered pension plan, which is being supported in principle by all provinces. There is unanimous support to go forward with the pooled registered pension plan.
In talking to people in Selkirk—Interlake and the businesses up and down the main streets throughout the 71 communities in my riding, they are glad that they may now have some options. Unlike a lot of places in urban Canada, not a lot of big businesses in rural Canada offer employee pension plans. By not having that employer-employee contribution going into a pension program, people have had to use their own savings or go into their RRSPs. Now there would be an option and the ability for all these small businesses to offer a pension.
If we look at the statistics, small and medium size businesses represent over 90% of the businesses in Canada. They employ 67% of Canadians. A lot of those businesses are owned by self-employed individuals. Now they would have an opportunity to participate in a larger fund that would pool their dollars and cut down on the administration cost so that they could make investments for retirement.
Over the break in January, I met with some of my chambers of commerce. I held some prebudget consultation meetings. Even last fall, in some meetings with municipal councils and chambers of commerce, they were talking about a pooled registered pension plan program. They see this as a benefit. They see this as an opportunity to help retain employees because their employees would now have an opportunity to participate in a pension program rather than having to relocate. We see a lot of people going after more lucrative employment opportunities and leaving for other areas of Canada and urban centres. That is the wrong approach for rural Canada.
By having the government move forward on the PRPP, small and medium size businesses and the self-employed would have a competitive opportunity to keep people in their communities. On top of enjoying the great attributes of rural Canada, people would have the ability to have the same potential for retirement earnings and be able to then retire in those communities. It would allow them to continue having the community services, the schools for their children and to make use of their recreational facilities with that taxpayer base through property taxes. Therefore, we need to maintain that population base and this is another tool that would allow us to do it.
I encourage everyone, when we vote in a few minutes on Bill C-25, to support it.