Madam Speaker, I am very glad to rise today on behalf of the residents of York South—Weston, who sent me here to look after them and to try to make sense of what the government is doing.
One of those residents, a young fellow named Scott Jackson, finished in the top 12 in the Canada's Got Talent show last week. We want to congratulate him for being such a great self-employed musician. I say self-employed musician because those are the kinds of people who are going to suffer most from the kinds of policies and practices the government is putting forward to try to deal with the future of the retirement scheme in Canada.
First and foremost, people like Scott are going to work until they are 67, make no doubt about it. The minister may say people have time to prepare for that, which means they are going to save more money, but that is not unless they can earn more money. They cannot earn more money in the systems we have today, when the government is telling employers they can now bring people from other countries and ask them to work for 15% less than the people who are currently working in Canada.
It makes no sense. The government is driving down wages as quickly as it can. It is working hard to prevent organized labour from getting any further in the wage battles in this country. Its friends, the CEOs and captains of industry, are doing quite well. I do not see any 15% regulation for CEOs of big corporations, or calls for them to be replaced by temporary foreign workers. That is the reality the Conservatives put forward.
I am going to call this a scheme, because that is really what it is. The suggestion that this scheme of pooled registered retirement plans will somehow be the solution is just looking at the world through such rose-coloured glasses as to be laughable. If one wants to be generous to the government, it is perhaps an addition to an arsenal of possible retirement schemes, but it is really fundamentally no different from what is already there, except in the ability to pool. There is already a registered retirement savings plan scheme and a tax-free savings account scheme, which most Canadians cannot afford to contribute to. In fact, 74% of Canadians do not put money into RRSPs, and yet 60% of Canadians, as the minister opposite already stated, do not have a workplace pension plan.
The number of workplace pension plans is actually going down, and they are being converted, as we speak, from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans in record numbers. Employers across the land are discovering they can no longer afford to continue the good, solid, defined benefit plans that are similar to the Canada pension plan and were supposed to work in tandem with it.
The systems that current and previous governments have put in place make it impossible for employers to deal with the huge deficits these plans rolled up. These deficits are not caused by some kind of structural problem with the defined benefits system. They are caused by the abnormally low interest rates that we have in this country, which are forcing employers to put huge amounts of money into pension plans for a potential windup of those plans. It is not likely to happen. If a company continues to exist and is profitable, it will continue to contribute into that defined benefit plan.
The windup costs become enormous. As soon as one tries to buy annuities, with the windup of a pension plan, one has to come up with enormous sums of money, so employers all over this country are dropping them like hot potatoes. The government has not provided them any relief. There has been no discussion by the government to find a way around this, to make it possible to preserve the system of a combination of the Canada pension plan, OAS and a defined benefit plan in an employer setting. Those are the three pillars of what we have now. Two of them are under attack and the third is being left stagnant.
The NDP has a plan. The NDP plan is to suggest that the Canada pension plan is so successful that it should be doubled. It is clearly the cheapest, the most reliable and the most sustainable form of pension in our country. The Canada pension plan, which is a type of defined benefit plan that is a recognition of years of service times wages, which is how most good pension plans in our country are calculated, provides a portion of what is intended to be the pension regime for Canadians when they retire.
One portion is the old age security, one portion is the Canada pension plan and the third portion is either personal savings or a workplace defined benefit plan. Because 60% of Canadians do not have a workplace pension plan, and a number of those Canadians are now in workplace pension plans that are precarious and dependent upon the stock markets, and if people happen to retire at the wrong time and the stock markets are down, woe betide them, they will not be able to retire.
We have not come up with an overall scheme. The government has put a band-aid on a scheme that needs something more than a band-aid. The only thing it has proposed is kind of like a bigger group RRSP. It still has the same precarious nature, depending on market forces for its success. It still has the issue of no mandatory provision to it, so people do not have to belong and do not have to contribute. It has no requirement for the employer to contribute.
With those three things missing, with those three things being a problem with this pooled system, it is a bad system. It may suit a very small minority of Canadians and a small minority of Canadian corporations, companies, businesses, owners that have no other alternative. However, if that is going to be the case, the better solution is to double Canada pension, gradually over time.
The Conservatives call it another tax. It is not a tax; it is a pension. It has nothing to do with taxing anybody. It is a way of maintaining a pension. If we are suggesting employers are contributing already to the Canada pension plan and that over time those contributions should double so Canadians who have no other alternatives will at least have something sensible to retire on, a portion of money that comes from a Canada pension, let us think of the downstream benefits to that.
First, it will reduce poverty. Reducing poverty is a good thing. Second, it will reduce the government's reliance on guaranteed income supplement. If Canadians have a doubled Canada pension plan and old age security, fewer and fewer of them would need that government handout.
We are making the future more sustainable through a present that looks forward. That is not what the government is doing. The government is trying to scare Canadians by suggesting that somehow the old age security system we now have is unsustainable and that this in combination with the guaranteed income supplement will bankrupt the country.
That is the absolute furtherest from the truth. Yes, there is a slight bump when the baby boomers retire, but the plan allows those baby boomers to all retire anyway and continue to collect OAS. Therefore, the bump is not being dealt with. This belies the fact that the government considers this to be a problem.
By the time we get around to implementing the government's plan, we will be on the downward slope of the baby boomers and we will end up with a sustainable system again. The plan is crazy. It is not an effective way to create sustainabilty in our pension system.
We in the NDP have determined that the best way to go forward, and the best way for the sustainability of the entire system, is to double the Canada pension plan. The government is not doing that. The government is suggesting that we should put our money into more personally risky investments. As long as that is the case, as long as there is a personal risk, then it is a roll of the dice on which year to retire. If people retire in a bear market, well, too bad, so sad, they will run out of pension.