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House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

The House resumed from June 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-25, An Act relating to pooled registered pension plans and making related amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-25, the pooled registered pension plan.

I want to congratulate the Minister of State for Finance on the amazing and wonderful work he has done on this bill and on chairing the committee headed up by the minister and all the provincial finance ministers. I want to congratulate him on his efforts in guiding this bill through the House of Commons.

I have been a member of Parliament now for a little over a year. What has really struck me in my time here so far is the negativity I hear from across the aisle from the nattering nabobs of negativism. No matter how good a public policy initiative is coming out of this government—

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

An hon. member

It's all good.

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

—and it is all good, the members opposite oppose it.

I am reminded of the movie A Few Good Men. Jack Nicholson is on the stand and is being cross-examined by Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise says, “I want the truth”, and Jack Nicholson barks back, “You can't handle the truth”. Those are the people we are opposing on the other side of the House. They cannot handle the truth. They prefer to live with Tattoo on Fantasy Island, and those in the third party, well, they are just Lost in Space.

As a government, we have the responsibility to make decisions. We have a heavy burden on this side. We are the only party standing in the way of the NDP forming government. That is a very heavy burden, one which we do not take lightly.

We on this side are not concerned about 2015. We hear about the NDP and its rush to form government in 2015. In fact, I hear it is even cornering the market on orange carpeting for their ministerial offices already. Let me say one thing. We on this side are not concerned about 2015. We are concerned about 2020, 2030, 2040, 2050. The legislation we are proposing is not just to get us to the next election. We are proposing legislation that is good for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren for generations to come.

Before I speak specifically to the bill, I will talk about where we are in terms of our economic situation. We are number one in the G8 in terms of economic performance.

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

An hon. member

Thanks to this government.

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

The member is right. It is thanks to this government.

We have recovered all of the jobs that we lost during the recession. Since July 2009, we have created 765,000 net new jobs. The World Economic Forum says we have the strongest financial and banking system of any country around the world. Forbes magazine says we are the best place to do business.

A few months ago, Governor Branstad of Iowa said on Meet the Press, “The Canadian government has reduced their corporate income tax to 15%. I've had companies that I've called on in Chicago to come to Iowa say, 'We like Iowa, but if they don't change the federal corporate income tax, we're probably going to go to Canada'”.

It is all about the profits, and with profits come jobs. Moody's has given us a AAA credit rating again, as has Fitch.

Our strong economy, the jobs we have recovered and being number one in the G8 are not good enough. We are not standing still with that. I will be speaking to Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill, tomorrow.

Everything we do on this side of the House, every legislative initiative, has a purpose. Everything is tied together. It is part of our comprehensive plan. Again, it is for Canada's future. We are investing in Canada's future, in our people, not in the next election.

With respect to our retirement system, we have identified that 60% of Canadians will not have a sufficient amount of money to retire. That is unacceptable to the government. That is why we have put forward Bill C-25, the pooled registered pension plans act. Under this plan, we will add a fourth pillar to the retirement income system that we have.

Let us take a look at our retirement income system as it stands today. We have the OAS and the GIS. We increased the GIS in last year's budget by 25%, the largest increase in the history of the GIS, and it was opposed not once, but twice by the opposition. In fact, the first time the opposition forced an election because it was opposed to the initiatives we had in our budget, particularly those to create jobs and to help seniors.

The second pillar is the CPP and the QPP. Both are actuarially sound, yet we still took time to improve the CPP under its mandatory five-year review.

The third pillar is the RPP and the RRSP. The RRSP is an interesting vehicle. That vehicle is open to all Canadians; however, we find that $600 billion is underfunded in the RRSP. This indicates that people are not saving enough for retirement. That is a problem.

What else have we done to help seniors in this country? We have given them, on average, $2.3 billion in tax relief. We have given our seniors pension income splitting. We have doubled the maximum amount of income eligible for pension income credit. We have established the TFSA.

The PRPP is needed in our country. I will close with a personal anecdote. My father was an immigrant to the country and he worked hard. I remember when I was a young fellow looking through the window late at night, waiting for my father to come home. He would pull up in the car, which had a very distinctive sound. I remember running to the window and watching him get out of the car. He was so tired he could barely drag himself out of the car and get into the house.

My father did not have a retirement income mechanism in place at the time. My father has since passed away. My father owned a shoe store and had one employee. It was a small business. This would have been so beneficial for him and his family, and for the employee and her family.

This is the kind of country we are trying to create in Canada, where our seniors have a proper amount of income so that they can retire in dignity and live a full life of quality.

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12:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, just to extend the analogy in regard to A Few Good Men, it might be remembered by this House that the Jack Nicholson character was found guilty of supporting heinous and violent crimes.

I did want to ask a question in regard to the fact that only about 30% of Canadians have the fiscal ability to put savings into RRSPs. Unfortunately, over a 40- to 45-year period, the RRSP is reduced significantly. About 40% of the money that goes in goes to pay fees to the financial institution.

I wonder if the member opposite would like to circle that square.

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12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if it is geometrically possible to circle a square.

The hon. member raises a rather interesting question because she seems to be offering more of an answer. She said that 30% of people cannot invest in an RRSP, which is all the more reason that we need a PRPP.

The hon. members on the other side are proposing an increase to the CPP. They do not understand two things. One, we need to have the agreement of two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the population to make any changes to the CPP mechanism. Two, CPP comes out of people's paycheques. This would be just another tax on people, which would be a job killer, which the NDP would probably support in any event.

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12:05 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, my distinguished colleague is talking about a plan that will guarantee pensions, but what is the point of a pension plan when we do not know how much money it will generate? That is a major problem.

People know exactly how much they will have to pay every month, but the amount they will get out of the plan after 30 or 40 years remains a complete mystery since the employer will choose who administers the plan and the level of risk of the investment. Employees may have to invest in a high-risk plan without having any say in the matter.

Is that what the government calls planning for retirement? Is that what the government calls planning a pension income?

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12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is pure speculation on the part of the hon. member to say that. He clearly does not know the facts. He has not read the legislation.

There is a strict regime in place. That is why they are called pooled registered pension plans. They will be pooled. Administrative costs will be kept down. This is what Canada needs. This is what our seniors need to live a life of quality and dignity.

We owe our seniors so much in this country. This government recognizes that. This government is prepared to do something about it, unlike those people on the other side.

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12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, as a supporter of this particular initiative for all the reasons that were outlined throughout this debate, some of it is pretty good. The idea of pooling pensions and the risk taken is mitigated as a result of this, no problem.

However, would the hon. member say that this is the be-all and end-all? Is there not a second part to this that the government could do, such as a supplementary CPP or something else? Is this really it for the Conservatives' economic action plan when it comes to pensions?

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12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again, we are debating Bill C-25, the pooled registered pension plans act. Any further initiatives that would be forthcoming from this government would be total speculation and conjecture at this point, and really, nobody can answer that.

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12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to some key measures in Bill C-25, an act that would implement the federal framework for pooled registered pension plans, or PRPPs.

This Conservative government stands with hard-working Canadians who are counting on their pension plan for a stable retirement. As part of this commitment, we continue to take the steps necessary to ensure that Canada's pension framework remains strong. In doing so, we are building on all that has been accomplished so far.

I will offer a few examples of what we have already achieved.

In 2009, we announced an improved regulatory framework to better protect members of federally-regulated pension plans. This included reducing funding volatility for defined benefit plans, making it easier for participants to negotiate changes to their pension arrangements. We ensured that pension plans were fully funded when they were terminated and we modernized the investment rules.

At the same time, the federal government, along with the provinces, agreed to a number of improvements to the Canada pension plan that would modernize the plan and would better reflect the way Canadians live, work and retire.

The hon. members on the other side should know that pensions share joint jurisdiction with the provinces. Only by continuing to work with the provinces will we make the system better. A stronger national economy must include a stronger personal retirement system built with the provinces. In fact, that is exactly what led to the development of the PRPP.

In December 2009, our government held a meeting with provincial and territorial finance ministers to discuss the retirement income system and, in going forward, how to address the issues of retirement income adequacy for all seniors.

In June 2010, federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to develop options to improve Canada's retirement income system. One of those options was to expand the CPP. Many of the provinces raised strong objections to the idea of expanding the CPP as this would require increased contributions from employees, employers and the self-employed.

Canada's economic recovery is still fragile, and with the debt crisis in Europe still unresolved, now is simply not the time to impose a payroll tax on small and medium-sized businesses. As a former small business owner, I understand that point very well.

To be clear, it is not only our government that feels this way. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business:

For every one percentage point increase in CPP premiums beyond the current 9.9 per cent rate, it would cost 220,000 person-years of employment and force wages down roughly 2.5 per cent in the long run...

Simply put, an expanded CPP would hurt both small and medium-sized business owners and working Canadians. This government wants to create jobs, not destroy them.

Since expanding CPP was not feasible, priority was given to the PRPP framework. That is why at the 2010 meeting of finance ministers there was unanimous agreement on the decision to pursue a framework for pooled registered pension plans.

The PRPP will mark a significant step forward in advancing our retirement income agenda by improving the range of retirement savings options available to Canadians. They will make well-regulated, low cost private sector pension plans accessible to millions of Canadians who, up to now, have not had access to such plans. In fact, many employees of small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed workers will now have access to a private pension plan for the first time.

For many years, I operated a private dental practice in Kitchener and employed up to five people. It would have been impossible for me to enrol in a pension plan on behalf of my employees. However, I would have liked nothing better than to access a pooled program in which, by putting our resources together with a number of employers, we could have accessed a pooled registered pension plan.

We can think of other businesses. My colleague mentioned a shoe store. I can think of small engine repair shops, farm implement dealers and hairdressers. We can go on with the number of small and medium-sized employers that would benefit from a measure like we have proposed. When they look for employees, they compete on the employment market and the ability to offer a good pension plan to an employee, in addition to an attractive salary and benefit plan, would go a long way in competing for the best and brightest people who could help to move their companies ahead.

This is an important part of gaining access to pension options and this access to pension options is a key improvement to Canada's retirement income system.

PRPPs will also complement and support the Government of Canada's overarching objective of creating and sustaining jobs, leveraging business investment, securing our economic recovery and encouraging sustainable private sector driven growth, an objective I wish members opposite would understand and support.

Quite simply, the PRPP framework is the most effective and targeted way to address the prime areas for improvement identified by provincial and federal governments in our recent review of the retirement income system, modest and middle-income individuals who do not have access to employer sponsored pension plans.

PRPPs would address this gap in the retirement system by providing a new, accessible, straightforward and administratively low-cost retirement option for employers to offer their employees. It would also allow individuals who currently may not participate in a pension plan, such as those self-employed and employees of companies that do not offer a pension plan, to make use of this new option. It would enable more people to benefit from the lower investment management costs that would result from membership in a large pooled pension plan, allowing for the portability of benefits that would facilitate an easy transfer between plans and ensure that funds would be invested in the bests interests of plan members.

These are all important areas where our retirement income system can and should be improved. That is why federal, provincial and territorial governments are working to implement PRPPs as soon as possible, and we are doing it collaboratively. Once again, I remind hon. members that this pooled retirement pension plan approach was agreed to as the best by all of Canada's finance ministers, provincial and territorial. These plans will help Canadians, including the self-employed, to meet their retirement objectives by providing access to a new, low cost accessible pension option.

The bill before us today, the PRPP act, represents the federal portion of the PRPP framework and is a major step forward in implementing pooled registered pension plans.

In addition, the tax rules for pooled registered pension plans have been developed by the Government of Canada and were released in draft form for comment in December of 2011. Comments received during that consultation period, which ended in February, are being reviewed currently. The tax rules for PRPPs will apply to both federally and provincially regulated PRPPs and will be implemented in 2012. By working in concert with the provinces, we can accomplish so much more by working together.

I would urge all the provinces to take the advice of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. when they collectively said, “The longer governments take to establish a system of PRPPs, the less time those employees will have to use this vehicle to save for their retirement”.

It is clear that Canadians want their governments to act on their priorities and deliver results on a timely basis, and the PRPP should be no different.

Many people in my riding work for small and medium-sized businesses and who are self-employed. As a former small business owner myself, I know how greatly they would benefit from the advantages presented by pooled registered pension plans.

It is for this reason that I urge, not only the Government of Ontario, but all provincial governments, to put in place their respective legislation as soon as possible so that all Canadians can start saving for their retirement. Once provinces implement their own legislation, PRPPs will be a key element of the third pillar of Canada's retirement income system. PRPPs will complement and operate alongside registered retirement savings plans and employer sponsored registered pension plans.

With all the measures we have put in place and with Bill C-25 bringing the federal PRPP framework into force, Canadians can be confident about the long-term viability of their retirement system. We are listening, and will continue to listen, to the views on how we can strengthen the security of pension plan benefits and ensure that their framework is balanced and appropriate for the long term.

Canada's retirement income system is recognized around the world by such experts as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD, as a model that succeeds in reducing poverty among Canadian seniors and in providing high levels of replacement income to retired workers.

With Bill C-25, we are making it better by working toward a permanent, long-term solution to encourage greater pension coverage among Canadians. At the same time, we will continue to ensure our retirement income remains one of the strongest in the world.

I would encourage all members of the House to support this important bill.

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12:20 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised that government MPs are portraying themselves as pension plan champions when this very government refused to do a thing to protect plans like Nortel's and AbitibiBowater's.

This is the same government that decided to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 when there was really no financial need to do so. This same government is proposing a pension plan that is supposed to be the greatest thing ever, but it is refusing to include any provisions to control administrative fees, payout amounts and, most importantly, the bankers' ability to pay themselves bonuses out of the fund's returns.

Is it not bizarre that whenever there are corporate welfare bums to support, the Conservatives are always ready to give them whatever they want? They are privatizing profits, but ordinary Canadians are the ones who will have to cope with losses.

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12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it strange that people across the aisle would say that changes to the OAS system are not necessary. I have not spoken to one person in the past number of months, since we have talked about implementing this, who has not agreed that some changes are necessary. There has been a wide variation in terms of what the proposed solutions would be.

In the 1970s there were seven workers contributing to CPP for every retired worker. Currently that number is down to roughly four workers for every retired worker. In about 20 years that number will be reduced to two workers for every retired person.

Canadians understand. If the numbers are going from seven to one, now four to one and projected to be down to two to one, it was absolutely crucial that we had the courage to make these changes so my children, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren would have a plan in place that would see them have a sustainable retirement system, the Canada pension plan.

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12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the member's statement on the crisis situation that he has tried to portray to Canadians in regard to the OAS program. As a result, the government is going to increase the eligibility age from 65 to 67, something with which the Liberal Party totally disagrees. It is not necessary and the evidence is clear to demonstrate that.

The Liberal Party supports the principle of a pooled pension plan. For this plan to be as effective as it could be, a number of things should have happened. Amendments should have been accepted that would have modified the program.

There is one other component that is really important, and that is the participation of provincial governments in the plan and how they would be engaged in promoting it and bringing in legislation to support it.

Could the member provide an update as to what other provincial jurisdictions are doing to support or complement this program that the government is bringing in through this legislation?

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12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague may have misunderstood the intent of the OAS changes. He said that we see a crisis. Nobody on this side of the House has said there is a crisis.

The system we are putting in place would be implemented starting in 2023. I do not see a crisis in looking that far ahead. We are going to avoid a crisis that would see the country thrown into a situation where there would be no long-term, sustainable Canada pension plan. By planning ahead to 2023 to begin implementation of the plan, to have it fully implemented by 2029, is a practical, measured approach that would ensure future sustainability.

My colleague mentioned provincial co-operation. I did mention in my speech that all provincial and territorial finance ministers agreed that this was the way to move ahead.

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12:25 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today and speak on Bill C-25, an act relating to pooled registered pension plans. In truth, it is legislation from the Conservative government that is really a savings scheme, not a pension plan. Like the omnibus Trojan Horse budget bill, it reminds Canadians of the mess the Conservatives have created for Canada and for our pensioners.

This hole that Canadians find themselves in becomes unacceptable, especially when we see the shovels in the hands of the Conservative government digging the hole.

Let us separate fact from fiction in the government's spin on being good managers of the economy. In fact, the Conservatives' us-them, winners and losers ideology has exposed them as very bad managers of the economy.

Fact number one is that 1.6 million seniors live in poverty.

Fact number two is that 12 million Canadians lack a workplace pension plan.

Fact number three is that most Canadian workers have no RRSPs, but the proposed legislation advises that they invest despite disastrous investment returns.

Fact number four is that last year, only 31% of eligible Canadians contributed to RRSPs. How little money Canadians really have for their RRSPs is evident in the fact that unused RRSP room now exceeds $500 billion.

Fact number five is that the Conservatives tolerate overall poverty numbers of around 10%, one in every ten Canadians. They write off three million Canadians from contributing to productivity or paying taxes. The Ontario food bank estimates that the bill to Canada that the Conservative government writes off is costing our country close to $90 billion.

Facing all these facts, what do the Conservatives do? They bring forward legislation with limited benefits for the self-employed and for those with small and medium-sized businesses. They stick with our country's miserly pension plan rather than bringing it up to the level of other countries that more fairly and generously look after their seniors.

The proposed legislation would do nothing to fix our pension crisis. There is too little money on the revenue side for our country precisely because of the spending and the deep hole that the Conservative government has dug with its ideology-driven priorities.

There is no money for Canadian seniors and their pensions because the Conservative government ignores a declining crime rate and goes on a multi-billion dollar spending spree on crime that the provinces say they do not want and cannot afford.

There is no money for seniors, but there is money for F-35 fighter jets. There is money for a minister's $16 glass of orange juice and money to spend on search and rescue personnel to ferry the Minister of National Defence on his own errands.

The Prime Minister has said that the Canada pension plan is adequately self-financing, but “for those elements of the system that are not funded, we will make the changes necessary to ensure sustainability.”

What changes does the government propose? It plans to cut old age security, denying it to seniors who are 65 and 66. This program provides $526.85 a month to seniors below the income cut-off.

New Democrats recognize the demographics in our country showing that the number of Canadians older than 65 will double in the next 20 years. We also recognize that the pension plan is financially sustainable in its various demands, up and down, over the next 20 years.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has backed us up with strong evidence, but what is increasingly having Canadians lose confidence in the government is its failure to manage the economy and deal with the inequality that exists in our communities.

There is less money for seniors because of ridiculous spending decisions by the Conservative government. It reduced corporate taxes and had ministers for the G8 spending like drunken sailors.

We on this side of the House have no problem with an honest dialogue with Canadians about belt-tightening, about hard choices that have to be made regarding our pensions and pensioners. However, we will not frame these choices as the Prime Minister does, ignoring the facts and making our seniors pay.

Let us be clear: our seniors and future pensioners need protection and real help. Pool registered pension plans fail to protect retirement security because they encourage families to gamble even more of their retirement savings on failing stock markets. Anyone who has watched the RRSP plummet over the past years knows how risky savings tied to the stock market are.

How out of touch can the Conservative government be to sell such a scheme to Canadians?

The bill is designed to appeal to the self-employed and workers at small and medium-sized firms, companies that often lack the means by which to administer a private sector plan.

The plan created would be a defined contribution plan. Employees would contribute a portion of their salary into the retirement account, where it could be invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, et cetera. Some companies would make a matching contribution, up to a certain percentage. The account would grow through contributions and investment earnings until retirement.

In such a direct contribution plan, there are no guarantees about how much of a person's money will be left when he or she retires. The risks are borne entirely by the individual. In these types of plans, the amount of money available at retirement depends upon the outcome of the investments, which cannot be relied upon. Defined contribution plans lack the security of defined benefit pension plans like the CPP and the QPP, which pay a guaranteed set amount upon retirement.

There is also the profit margin taken from these plans by the regulated financial institution, such as banks, insurance companies and trust funds. Bill C-25 also fails to place a cap on administration fees or costs and merely assumes lower costs will emerge through competition in the marketplace, and unlike the CPP and the QPP, the pooled pension plan would not be indexed to inflation.

On the other hand, the NDP has put forward a series of retirement income security proposals that would bring genuine security to our pensioners.

We want to double the guaranteed CPP-QPP benefits, to a maximum of $1,920 each month. Growing the CPP and QPP is the best and lowest-cost pension reform option we have.

We have committed to work with the provinces to build the flexibility of individuals and their employers to make voluntary contributions to individual public pension accounts. We would amend federal bankruptcy legislation to move pensioners and long-term disability recipients to the front of the line of creditors when their employers enter court protection or declare bankruptcy.

New Democrats would increase the annual guaranteed income supplement to a sufficient level, in the first budget, to lift every senior in Canada out of poverty immediately.

These are real reforms. This is the real help for seniors barely getting by or workers forced to delay a hard-earned retirement.

Let me quote the commentary of the Canadian Labour Congress on this bad bill.

The proposed PRPPs [pooled registered pension plans] do not guarantee low management fees that would prevent large management fees from eating up such a large portion of your savings. In fact, there is only a promise that the design of PRPP will result in large pools of capital that might lower fees, with no guaranteed or legislated results. Nothing in the PRPP proposal sets management expenses at levels equal to or lower than those of the CPP. As a result, CPP is still a better deal than PRPP; not only because of its guaranteed indexed retirement income, but because of its much lower management fees.

The government is already engaged in damage control on trying to increase the retirement age from 65 to 67. It is trying to reassure seniors that it would not affect those now retired or soon to be retired. What the government should be afraid of is the large number of Canadians aged 50 to 65, the people who vote in this country, who are seeing freedom 55, and now freedom 65, slip away.

Our seniors have worked hard and managed their budgets, only to see the government dig this very deep hole by giving up revenue it would have had from corporations and spending it on its priorities that are now not the priorities of many Canadians.

This will be the fight of their lives. New Democrats will join this fight. We need to value our seniors, not beat up on them.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Statistics Canada, more than 14% of senior women who live alone are living in poverty. The NDP supports enhancing the Canada pension plan to address these instances of poverty.

However, with respect to the pooled registered pension plan scheme, benefits will depend on investments and the stock markets. This scheme will do nothing to address poverty among the elderly, especially senior women.

Could my colleague comment on that?

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very good question. She is quite right.

The Conservative government's plan will force Canadians to invest their money in the markets. Everyone knows what happens when the market drops: pension plans shrink and Canadians no longer have the money to retire.

This is the NDP's plan: we want to increase the CPP and the QPP to lift the poorest people out of poverty. The members on this side of the House are aware that only the poorest seniors receive old age security. The government's plan will make the poorest even poorer. The poorest of the poor, especially women, will be affected, not the rich.

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12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, over the years I have heard a great deal about the importance of CPP, OAS and GIS through the Liberal critic for seniors and how we need to invest in, enhance and improve these programs. I share in the passion for improving and moving forward with those programs, so I appreciate the comments of the member from the New Democratic Party on that particular point.

Where I disagree, and where I would ask the member to respond, is with respect to this: why would the NDP oppose outright the opportunity for some individuals to benefit from this pooled registered fund?

My understanding is that even the New Democratic Party in Manitoba was supportive of this fund being brought in. What I do not quite understand is why the federal New Democratic Party would vote against allowing individuals to benefit. It is a small tool, but it will derive some—

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12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. The hon. member for Nickel Belt.

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reason we do not support this pooled pension plan is that there are no benefits to it.

When people invest their money in the stock market—which is what the government wants, seniors investing in the stock market—and the stock market falls, the pension plan falls. Therefore, the seniors who lose their money in the stock market would not have a retirement pension plan.

If today's seniors want to invest and have the extra money, albeit there are people in this country who do not have extra money to invest in RRSPs, they can do that now. What we would like to do is increase the CPP and the QPP to include everyone in Canada who could contribute to and collect from the CPP and the QPP.

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12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

There are about 30 seconds left for a brief question.

The hon. member for Hochelaga.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to know whether my colleague agrees that the government is trying to distract Canadians by passing a bill with the words “pension plan” in its title to suggest that it is improving the pension system when really the government is more or less creating a pooled RRSP?