Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and take us through to the beginning of question period.
I have listened to many of the debate today, or the false information, I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you have been able to recognize this, having listened to many of these debates. We have certainly given this fulsome debate in the House as well as in committee. We have brought in witnesses who talked about the benefits of the pooled registered pension plan.
It has been said many times, but not enough and it deserves repeating, that this will be a low-cost option to those Canadians, 60% of those in the workforce, who do not now have available to them a workforce pension plan that their employer can choose to contribute on their behalf. That is the option of the employer.
We, on this side of the House, think that option is exactly what our businesses want. They have asked us for an opportunity so they can choose to offer this pension option, this retirement option, this savings option to their employees and, if so, they can choose to contribute as well on their behalf.
We see it as accessible, which has been mentioned many times, by any Canadian. In many forums I have been asked if this is this only for small businesses. Absolutely not. It is available to any business that chooses to offer it.
For the first time in history, this is available to self-employed Canadians who can contribute to their retirement. A lot of self-employed Canadians have not had the option to become part of a larger pool at low cost, where the administration costs are low.
I have heard lots of comments from the other side that are very much ill-informed. Canada has been accused of having very high MER rates, management expense ratios, to put it in layman's terms, and of course the industry will complain that those are required because of the complications of the pensions they offer.
We have simplified it down so the parties that are interested, once they qualify, in offering the pooled registered pension plans. They have told us that they can bring their costs down very low.
We are trying to provide a realistic low-cost option so Canadians can actually participate in a larger pool, the same type of pool that the Canada pension plan and the Quebec pension plan is. That is what makes sense for Canadians.
The NDP continues to harp on the fact that all we should do is double the Canada pension plan. That absolutely negates the position in which many Canadians are. They do not want another mandatory reduction from their paycheque, and it would be mandatory, because that is the makeup of the Canada pension plan. Many people are saving in other ways and they do not want it deducted from their paycheque.
Many businesses have said that they are struggling to hire new people and make their businesses profitable. Now is not the time to add another cost, albeit a tax, on them contributing on behalf of their employees. This gives those businesses an option if they feel comfortable to offer a savings plan for their individual employees. That is very important.
We have a very good system in our country. The NDP loves to talk down our economy, our seniors and what a great country this is in which to live. We should be proud of the fact that we have a great country, a great financial system and a great retirement system for our seniors. It is the envy of the world.
I have spoken at many pension conferences in Canada and around the world, and I have also listened. Many approach us and ask how we have done it in Canada and could they follow our model. Many have asked about the pooled registered pension plan. They think it is a good idea and they would like to adopt it in their countries. Some people recognize that, but obviously not the opposition.
The opposition members stand over there and say that we have done little for seniors. We have done a lot for seniors. We have given the largest increase in the guaranteed income supplement for those low-income seniors. We on this side of the House thought that was a great idea. Apparently, the NDP did not like it because its members voted against it. They stand in here and say that they support seniors, yet they voted to keep them as low-income seniors. That is an incredible position for them to take.
We have the Canada pension plan. As I have said before, it is actuarially sound for 75 years. We co-share the jurisdiction of that with the provinces. It is in good shape. We have discussed whether we can increase that, and that discussion continues among our officials. As well, the Quebec pension plan is there for seniors.
We have the tax-assisted registered pension plans and registered retirement savings plans. Those are good. They have had some struggles but, over the years averaged out, they have done well.
However, we think there is an option that is missing, and that is the option for so many of our Canadian workers who do not have that.
In the last few minutes I have, let me just share a bit of the chronology from where we started.
In 2008, when we saw some of the insolvent pension funds in trouble, we realized we needed to look at those that were federally regulated. The Pension Benefits Standards Act had not been changed since 1985. We took a serious look at that, through consultation. We have improved that to protect the federally-regulated ones. We moved from there. We saw the challenges that individual pension funds were facing, so we moved to make improvements to them through a working group.
We did extensive analysis and we found out what segment of the Canadian population was not saving enough for their retirement. This is directed toward the middle section of income earners who need the support to help them save. This process will help them save and they are sharing in the contributions for that. Most Canadians think that is only fair that they help save for their own retirement.
We know the socialists love to share everybody else's money but their own. We would like to suggest that is probably not the way most Canadians think.
We have shared this challenge with our partners, the provinces.
I mentioned earlier how progressive the Quebec government had been on this. In fact, in its last two budgets, it has addressed this. It wants to move forward with it.
It is very unfortunate that the NDP is the sole roadblock in us being able to move forward, the Quebec government being able to move forward and other governments that actually want to put in place mirror legislation to this so we are able to provide pooled registered pension plans to those Canadians who want them and those Canadians who need them.