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House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Curling ChampionshipsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, visiting the parliamentary precinct today is the Yukon junior men's curling team. The team will be competing at the 2012 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships, February 4 to 12, in Napanee, Ontario.

The team comprises: Thomas Scoffin, skip; Mitchell Young, third; David Aho, second; Will Mahoney, lead; and Wade Scoffin, coach.

Thomas was also the skip of the bronze medal mixed curling team at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games held in Innsbruck, Austria. The members of that team were Thomas Scoffin from Yukon, Corryn Brown from B.C., Derek Oryniak from Manitoba, Emily Gray from P.E.I. and Helen Radford from Nova Scotia.

I ask all members of this House to join me in congratulating our young Canadian bronze medallists and wishing all the teams competing at the national championships the best of luck. Go Yukon.

Stephen PerryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, communities in the region of Nickel Belt and Sudbury are mourning the tragic death of Vale miner, Stephen Perry. Mr. Perry was a development miner working in the main ore body at the 4,200 foot level at Coleman mine when he was killed on Sunday. He has been described as generous, skilled, experienced and highly respected by his colleagues. Mr. Perry was from Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador. He had a large family of 15 siblings and a daughter. He had been in Sudbury for the last 16 years.

As a former employee of Vale and Coleman mine, I know first-hand how dangerous it is to work underground. At the end of the day, all a miner wants to do is earn a good living and go home to his family. My heart goes out to his family and his co-workers.

Today, I am also thinking of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram, who were killed underground only seven months ago in Sudbury. These are tragedies felt by the entire community.

On behalf of all members here, and my colleagues from Sudbury, St. John's East and St. John's South--Mount Pearl, I offer our prayers, condolences and deepest sympathies to the Perry family.

Sealing IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, fishing and seal hunting have been an integral part of the way of life of coastal and aboriginal communities in Canada, including the Magdalen Islands, for hundreds of years. This industry is a symbol of Canadians' work ethic and our rich rural history. It is also a legitimate economic activity that utilizes a very abundant resource and helps fishers and coastal communities support themselves.

The sealing industry clearly deserves our support. However, why the opposition refuses to provide its support is not clear. The member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl said that the sealing industry was destined for failure. At the same time, the very voluble Liberal senator is saying that this industry is dead.

While the Liberals and the NDP plot to destroy the sealing industry, our Conservative government will continue to support the hard-working sealers who are defending a legitimate and sustainable industry.

Jean PigottStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, Jean Pigott, one of the grandes dames of Ottawa, died earlier this year. Many already miss her sage advice, me included.

An Officer of the Order of Canada, Jean Pigott paved the way for future generations of Canadian women in business and politics. In the 1970s she served as CEO of Morrison Lamothe Bakery, one of only a handful of female CEOs in Canada at the time. In 1976, she was elected as a federal member of Parliament under the Progressive Conservative banner.

A positive force for change in the nation's capital, she headed the National Capital Commission from 1985 to 1992. In that role she became a highly visible champion of the capital as a place of symbols, history and pride. As a passionate and visionary community leader, she strived to make the nation's capital a second home for all Canadians.

The memory of Jean Pigott and the impact she had live on and will continue to do so for a long time yet. I want to thank her husband Arthur and the rest of her family for loving her, caring for her, and sharing her with Ottawa for so many wonderful years.

Merci, Jean.

PensionsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, today the NDP put forward a misleading motion on old age security. NDP members continue to deceive Canadians on the facts.

The NDP members choose to recklessly ignore our aging population and allow old age security to become unsustainable. The fact is that seniors currently receiving benefits will not lose a cent. Unlike the opposition, we will not put retirement income at risk for Canadians. Our government is acting to ensure that this important and necessary program is available and sustainable today and for future generations.

The director of Rotman International Centre for Pension Management said yesterday, “They have to make changes. You can't put your head in the sand.” He added that proposals should include looking at raising the retirement age.

Even the National Post and The Globe and Mail agree.

The NDP is reckless and fear-mongering. It has proved yet again it is not fit to govern.

Government PrioritiesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said that he does not want to reopen the abortion debate, but that is exactly what the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt is doing. The Prime Minister has also said that he does not want to reopen the debate on the death penalty but, just yesterday, a Conservative senator did exactly the opposite. If the Prime Minister really wants to reopen debates, here are a few suggestions: seniors living in poverty; large corporations that accept indiscriminate tax cuts, lock out their employees and do not even create jobs in Canada; and old age pensions. There is no shortage of topics on which the government could reopen debate, debates that Canadians really want to hear in this House.

Unlike this government, whose policies are completely unrealistic and out of touch, the NDP has Canadians' interests at heart.

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster might now be thinking he is having a Bill Murray-like Groundhog Day. That is because the NDP continues to mislead Canadians. Yesterday he cited false numbers on our crime agenda and the F-35 program.

The cost of fighting crime represents only a fraction of the cost of crime for victims. We have committed $540 million a year to fight crime, whereas the cost of crime for victims is over $99 billion a year.

Prison costs are based on a projected prison population that is failing to materialize. As a result, we will not build a single prison cell more than we need to keep Canadians safe.

The member and the hug-a-thug NDP should learn the facts and stop citing incorrect figures. The NDP's willingness to distort the facts to mislead Canadians is further proof that its policies are dangerous for the Canadian economy.

PensionsOral Questions

February 2nd, 2012 / 2:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, rumours of cuts to old age security benefits are causing widespread concern. That is to be expected, because the Prime Minister is beating around the bush. His government experts say that the system is viable.

Does the Prime Minister agree? Or will he make people wait until they turn 67 before they can receive their benefits if these cuts are not made?

PensionsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have said repeatedly that, in our budget, we will protect programs for seniors and those nearing retirement. At the same time, we will ensure that the system remains viable for future generations. That is our commitment not only to today's seniors, but also to future generations.

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, if viability is the issue, the Conservatives' own study and report, coming from the government, concludes on the pension, “Long-term projections show that public retirement-income provision is financially sustainable”. That is a direct quote from that report. It adds that the “OAS and GIS ensure universal coverage and form a very effective safety-net for the old-age incomes”.

The Prime Minister has yet to answer the question. I am giving him the opportunity again today. Will he rise in his seat and say to the country that the age of eligibility for OAS will not be raised to age 67, yes or no?

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the challenges of a shrinking workforce over the next generation have been well documented. I could send the hon. member any number of studies in this regard.

That said, we have been very clear that, in balancing our budget, we will ensure we protect the current programs that seniors receive. There will not be a cent cut from pensioners or from those who are approaching retirement. At the same time, we will ensure that our programs are viable for future generations.

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development tried to justify spending $30 billion on jet fighter planes by saying that they were needed against foreign invasions. No foreign powers will invade us to scoop our pension system because there will not be much of it left if the Conservatives have their way.

The Prime Minister refuses to come clean about his plans to cut the retirement income of Canadians. He can come clean today and answer the question we have been asking all week. Will he raise OAS eligibility to 67 years, yes or no?

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as we have said here many times, we want to ensure that the OAS system is viable in the long term. To do that, we are going to have to make some changes because of some change in demographics in our country. However, we are assuring Canadians, completely, that those seniors who are receiving OAS now will not lose a penny and those who are nearing retirement will not lose a penny. We are going to take care of them and future generations.

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, this year the Conservatives handed out $3 billion in tax gifts to profitable large corporations. What could we do with $3 billion? We could pay old age security benefits for 462,000 Canadians. That is a lot of people.

There is enough money for tax gifts for large corporations, but now seniors will have to wait until the age of 67 to get their $540 a month? Yes or no?

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the NDP says that it wants to help seniors, yet it votes against every thing we have done to help them.

In spite of the NDP, we increased the age credit for seniors, not once but twice. We increased the GIS exemption, allowing poor seniors to keep more of the money they earned. The NDP voted against that too. We brought in pension income splitting to help seniors keep more of their own money and the NDP voted against it. It should stop voting against seniors.

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am part of those future generations and let me just say that our social programs and services are important to me.

Future generations of pensioners will be most affected by any changes made to old age security. The provinces will also have to step up and help when seniors need more and more assistance.

Quebec was not even consulted. Not at all. What about consultations with the provinces, with pensioners, with workers? Is the eligibility age going to increase to 67, yes or no?

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we will protect old age security for our seniors. Those who are currently receiving benefits will not lose a cent. However, we need to ensure the sustainability of the system for future generations. That is exactly what we plan to do.

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Prime Minister could explain this, now that two spokesmen, the Minister of Finance and parliamentary secretary, have both confirmed today that the budget will in fact contain measures that will deal with the future costs of pensions in Canada.

Could the Prime Minister tell us, in light of his first answer today, if he was aware that there was such a demographic challenge? It did not just arise yesterday. It did not arise last week. It did not even arise just before he went to Davos. People have known about this for years.

Why did the Prime Minister not deal with this question? Why did—

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto Centre has the floor.

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, these rabbit tracks do not bother me at all. Really, it is irrelevant.

Why would the Prime Minister not have shared this question with the Canadian people in an election? He had a chance to go in an election, he says that he was looking for a mandate, why did he not have a mandate—

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member for Toronto Centre is asking us to table the budget earlier. He will receive that news in due course.

We made very clear commitments to the Canadian people. We are balancing our budget. We are very clear that we will not cut pensions of our seniors. Those will be absolutely protected as we balance the budget.

At the same time, the government is looking well beyond the life of this Parliament and how we can ensure our programs are viable for future generations.

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to tell the Prime Minister directly, but it is not clear to us, on this side of the House, that he will be in power after 2015. It is not clear that this will be the case. Thus, he must acknowledge that he is a politician just like any other. I would even call him the interim Prime Minister, in office only until 2015.

Does he believe that he controls the fate of all pensions until 2030, 2040 or 2050? He is not Louis XVI.

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!