House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was retirement.


The House resumed from June 6 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to rise to speak on Motion No. 40 regarding abandoned and derelict vessels, which is a very important issue in my riding of Courtenay—Alberni.

I want to thank the member for South Shore—St. Margarets for bringing this motion to the House. I have had the chance to work with her and her staff on this issue. In fact, I have been to her riding and have seen derelict vessels first-hand. My children's grandparents live in her riding, and she knows them very well. We have something in common, which is a Canadian issue and a coastal issue.

I stand in support of this motion, but I feel there is a need for actual legislation on this issue. I want to make that clear at the beginning. Bills have been introduced in the House, in this and previous Parliaments, calling for legislation on derelict vessels. My colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith has introduced a bill that would strengthen the requirements of the Canada Shipping Act to make the Coast Guard the responsible authority for abandoned and derelict vessels. In the last Parliament, Bill C-638 was introduced by the former MP for Nanaimo—Cowichan, Jean Crowder, and it was defeated in the House. Both of the bills proposed creative solutions to deal with abandoned and derelict vessels in a concrete way.

I want to talk about how we got here and maybe about a bit of the history. I have something in common with my colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets. We are coastal people and come from fishing communities, where people rely on fish for their sustenance and way of life. For many years, fishing was an occupation that kept coastal communities afloat. It fed families and was a way of life. Over time, through the mismanagement of resources, lack of investments in science and boots on the ground, there was overfishing and lack of leadership. We saw the decline of Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, and Pacific salmon. We have seen a 25-year decline in Chinook, and the lowest return of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River this year.

This led to a buyback program over the last few decades on the British Columbia coast, and I will speak specifically about British Columbia on this issue now. Basically, fishermen got pennies on the dollar for their licences, and their boats were deemed worthless. At one time, boats could be bought for $500 or $1,000. Most fishermen were not able to take care of their boats. They did not have a lot of money from the buyback and could not maintain their boats. Also, at the same time, Canada was divesting docks through Transport Canada and there were increased costs for the moorage of boats. A lot of boats were being moored offshore, so to speak. Due to many of the boats not being taken care of, there has been a huge decline in the maintenance of ships.

We are in a crisis situation. Our boats are getting older and older. It is an aging fleet. People are not taking care of them, and now they are sinking. Over the last 15 years, it has become a huge problem. There is not one coastal community or municipality that does not have derelict boats that are sinking. It has become a huge problem.

Also, in British Columbia, in particular, housing is a huge issue, and real estate prices have gone through the roof. A lot of people are actually moving onto boats for short-term and long-term accommodation. Some do it as a way of life, but a lot of people are buying boats and living on them. The boats of fishermen who have passed on are sitting in the harbour and no one knows who owns them, or the people who have bought boats and are living on them temporarily move on and leave them. No one is painting the bottoms of the boats or maintaining them, and they are leaking.

The ocean is very important for tourism, the economy, the health of communities, the environment, and the ecosystems that we rely on. It affects coastal people's self-worth. When a boat goes down, people are confused about whose responsibility it is.

If it is a navigation issue or a safety issue, it is Transport Canada. If it is going to impact our fishing industry, it is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. If it is an environmental issue, it is the Department of Environment. If it ends up on the land, on the foreshore, then it is the Province of British Columbia. First nations, local communities, are desperate for some leadership on these issues.

I will talk a little about what is happening in my community of Courtenay—Alberni. Just six months ago, we had a call about three boats that had sunk in Deep Bay. They were tied to a flotilla of derelict boats. When the divers went down to see if any of the three boats would have an impact on the local environment, there were two other boats down there that they did not even know about. There were five boats sitting on the bottom of the ocean, and this is not uncommon where I live.

They were tied to a boat that was listing, the Silver King, a 200-ton boat that had bunker fuel in it. I went out on a boat with director Bill Veenhof, from the Regional District of Nanaimo; Michael Recalma, from the Qualicum First Nation; and Vancouver Island Deep Bay marine institution staff; as well as a local business owner who employs 60 people.

Deep Bay is a small community on Vancouver Island. Baynes Sound, where it is located, provides 50% of the shellfish in British Columbia. If the Silver King went down, immediately the businesses and the research facility would have been shut down for a minimum of one year. The impact is significant to the local economy, the environment, and the community there.

We were grateful, and I want to thank the government for taking action. For 10 years, we have been trying to get rid of the Silver King. I want to thank the government for removing it. The Silver King was removed, and then we identified that the Sir Wilfrid Laurier, another boat, was sinking. It took a long time, but the government came along and helped us remove that boat too.

We cannot do this on a boat-by-boat approach. We know that that is not working. In fact, right now there is a boat, the Bluebird IV, which is submerged in water, but because it is not a navigation hazard or a hazard to the environment, no one is taking responsibility for it.

We know that we have to do better at creating a plan. I always try to tell people on land to imagine an analogy. There are a bunch of dead vehicles, but they are not on the Trans-Canada Highway, so they are not Canada's problem. They are not on regional district land, so they are not the regional district's problem or the province's problem. What if no one would take responsibility? They are not leaking oil, but are rusty, and are not having on the impact on the environment, so who cares?

We know what will happen. Eventually, they will be an environmental problem. They are going to bring down the self-esteem of the community. We need to do better than that.

I have outlined some of the concerns around that, and the problems we have had. We know that Transport Canada did an inventory of vessels in 2014 and found there were 600 vessels in Canada that pose a threat. There were 245 in British Columbia that are deemed a risk. More than 59% of vessels on the Canadian Register of Vessels are more than 30 years old.

I think about how we are going to go forward and how important this is. We live in a beautiful place. As coastal people, we rely on our ecosystems. When I go to communities in my riding and I see a mast sticking out of the water, or I see a boat that is half full of water, I think about the self-esteem of the community. I know that devalues communities. I think about the children. I think about how children feel when they see boats sinking or sitting on the shore, with no one cleaning them up. They feel that nobody cares and that Ottawa is pretty far away.

It is time for action, and I will support this motion. I hope the government will adopt my colleague's bill. Let us take some action to protect the environment, protect our economy, create safer oceans, and bring back our pride as coastal people, as Canadians. Let us do the right thing.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the motion moved by my colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets about dealing with abandoned vessels.

In the Montérégie region of Quebec, there is an abandoned carrier, the Kathryn Spirit. The ship has been moored on the shore of Lake Saint-Louis, which is a section of the Saint Lawrence between Vaudreuil-Dorion, the Island of Montreal, and Châteauguay, since 2011.

I have recently received over 130 emails from my constituents, who are concerned about the environmental hazard posed by the Kathryn Spirit. I would like to thank the hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît for raising this matter in the House a number of times before I arrived here.

The process that resulted in the decision to dismantle the Kathryn Spirit was complex because the wreck contained a significant quantity of pollutants. Fortunately, the vessel is not currently an environmental hazard because most of those substances were removed in 2013.

The Canadian Coast Guard has been keeping a close eye on the Kathryn Spirit, which is not currently a threat to the environment or to people, but residents are nevertheless concerned, and it makes them feel unsafe.

This motion is an excellent initiative, because it prohibits the abandonment of vessels while encouraging responsible vessel ownership. It recognizes the importance of proper management of abandoned naval vessels. It clarifies and expands the roles and responsibilities of the Government of Canada and vessel owners with respect to abandoned vessels. It calls on the government to tighten the regulations on vessel owners and ownership. Finally, it introduces preventive measures that will help reduce the risks of abandoned vessels.

I would like to run through the timeline of the Kathryn Spirit to illustrate how the spirit of this motion could have mitigated the complexity and the delays in this case and how it could prevent similar situations from happening in the future, especially considering the environmental risks associated with abandoned vessels.

In 2011 Groupe St-Pierre, a scrap dealer, brought the cargo ship Kathryn Spirit into Lake Saint-Louis. The ship was then moored to a wharf in Beauharnois and was supposed to be dismantled. Because of the ship's pollutants, the community opposed the demolition and the project was cancelled. In 2012, Groupe St-Pierre sold the Kathryn Spirit to a Mexican company that planned to tow it to Mexico. However, the plan was delayed. That is when people first began raising concerns about the future of the Kathryn Spirit.

In 2013, the Coast Guard assessed the state of the Kathryn Spirit and found no pollution in the water. Nonetheless, it ordered the owner to remove the pollutants. The Coast Guard continued to regularly inspect the ship to determine the risks of pollution.

In fall 2015, the Mexican company in question declared bankruptcy. It indicated that it was abandoning the ship in Lake Saint-Louis. That is when the Kathryn Spirit became the government's responsibility. Since then, the Coast Guard has continued monitoring the ship to ensure that it was not accessible to the public and that no pollutants were leaking. Nevertheless, a solution had to be found.

When our government came into power, Transport Canada, led by our minister, was immediately seized of this file. In January, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard invited representatives from the Town of Beauharnois and the City of Montreal to an information session. Our government then assumed its responsibilities by putting together a working group made up of federal, provincial, and municipal representatives to find a permanent and safe solution.

The working group managed to present three options in May: leave the ship in place, dismantle the ship, or tow it to another location. These options are not as simple as they seem, since there are risks associated with each one.

Then, the working group, with the input of experts, recommended that the ship be dismantled in situ in dry dock, given the risk that the cargo could spill.

As a result, our government contracted a company to build a dike around the wreck. This work, which should be complete by January 2017, will make it possible to then begin safely dismantling the wreck in the spring at the latest. After five years of waiting, the people who live in the area of Lake Saint-Louis can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I thank the parliamentary secretary, my colleague for Acadie—Bathurst, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Minister of Transport for their hard work on this file.

However, the Kathryn Spirit is not an isolated case. According to Transport Canada, there are over 600 abandoned and derelict vessels along Canada's coastlines, in our navigable waterways, and docked at ports across the country.

I fully support my hon. colleague's motion because it seeks to clarify the responsibilities of the Government of Canada when it comes to abandoned wrecks and their owners based on its jurisdiction over marine transportation, navigation, territorial seas, and marine pollution. That is very important. The motion is also in keeping with our government's leadership in and commitment to protecting Canada's marine and coastal areas.

Adopting this motion would not directly impact the case of the Kathryn Spirit, because our government has already taken steps to resolve the problem. However, as my hon. colleague just said, we must not tackle these problems on a boat-by-boat basis.

However, the motion will do much to solve this problem in that it will prevent future cases by recognizing the requirement for the prohibition against the abandonment of a vessel through potential amendments to any relevant legislation; incorporating an educational component within the government’s strategy to address the issue of abandoned vessels; improving vessel owner identification by possibly widening the scope of the Canadian Register of Vessels; and consider measures to ensure owners are held liable.

Had these measures been in effect before the Kathryn Spirit was abandoned, the government could have taken charge of the situation more quickly, and Canadians would not have had to endure the same circumstances.

In closing, this motion will also ensure that the authorities can take steps that will effectively remedy the difficulties caused by the other boats abandoned in Canada while preventing others from being abandoned in the future.

If we do not go ahead with this motion—and I think we are seeing support on both sides of the House—we would be exposing ourselves to other risks and other cases of abandoned vessels that would not only pose a menace to our communities and to our environment but to our country as a whole.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Motion No. 40, and I will encourage all of my colleagues to support this motion as well. I had the pleasure of working with the sponsor of the motion, the member for South Shore—St. Margarets, on the fisheries and oceans committee. I am very glad to see she is putting forward a motion that is of importance to her constituents and that would have a national impact as well. That is why we are all here, and I would like to applaud her for moving quickly to try to get the government to take action on this very important issue.

Even for those of us who do not live on one of our coasts, it is easy to envision why abandoned vessels are a problem for coastal communities. These vessels could be anything from end-of-life freighters and large boats to small recreational craft. There is obviously serious and imminent environmental damage that can be caused from these vessels, especially those that are reaching the end of their life cycle. This can be from an immediate leak, a slow trail of debris, or of course the wreckage.

These abandoned vessels can also cause serious interference with navigation by other vessels. Any of these risks can require a variety of federal departments to act. From Transport Canada and our Coast Guard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or Environment Canada, there significant implications for the federal government in dealing with these abandoned vessels.

From my reading, what Motion No. 40 proposes to do is straightforward and yet very important. It proposes that the government explore legislative options prohibiting the abandonment of a vessel, urges an educational component on responsible vessel ownership from beginning to end, recommends approving vessel registration, and it calls upon the government to assist in the removal of abandoned vessels where their presence creates an economic burden for a community. The value of the fisheries in Canada cannot be overstated. My NDP colleague was very eloquent in talking about the value of fisheries in his area. The fisheries committee, for example, right now is doing two major studies: one on the northern cod and one on Atlantic salmon, two species of great economic, social, and cultural importance, but which are also somewhat at risk in terms of low numbers. Anything we can do to prevent pollution in the ocean will only help our fisheries.

Thankfully, my constituents tend to not have to deal with this problem. I suspect that the most obvious problem for those who live in our coastal communities, aside from environmental concerns, is the negative visual impact these derelict vessels have on coastlines. Furthermore, the technical expertise and costs required to properly remove the vessels are significant and overwhelming. Even worse is how difficult it is to track down the owners and hold them responsible for their poor decision-making or disregard for the consequences of abandoning a vessel. Whether it be private shoreline property owners, municipalities, or provincial or federal governments, the costs are real and very difficult to manage.

That said, I am supportive of the proposed amendment by a government member to add a line to the motion that would urge the government to “consider measures to ensure owners are strictly liable for remediating abandoned vessels”. This is a very fair point; it is the polluter pay principle in action. In no way should taxpayers be solely on the hook for derelict and abandoned vessels. This is a serious issue for many communities, and taxpayers must not be paying potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up these messes. The federal government can assist as required, but not bear the brunt of these costs. Therefore, I hope the government takes this motion seriously and works to ensure that taxpayers are not paying the entire bill at the end of the day.

I must also make mention of the work by the former Conservative member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, my colleague John Weston, who introduced a private member's bill prior to the election that aimed to address a number of the issues related to derelict and abandoned vessels. During the election campaign, our party promised to support the provisions of that legislation, and we had also planned to set aside funds to cover one-third of the cost of removing priority derelict vessels. Just as the Conservative Party recognized this as a serious problem, I sincerely hope that the Liberal government moves to take action on this issue to resolve a very serious problem for coastal communities.

That said, with respect to the motion before us I do believe that the proposed amendment to add a line regarding owner liability is valuable. It leads me to believe that the government does intend to act, and that is a very good thing. I believe that the additional language regarding the onus of responsibility being on the owners of the vessel strengthens the motion significantly when considered in combination with the existing paragraph (d), that the government should “improve vessel owner identification by considering ratifying the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007, and by considering widening the scope of the Canadian Register of Vessels”.

There is clearly a serious problem if we are struggling to identify the owners of these abandoned vessels in order to take action against them. We must seek to strengthen our laws and regulations with respect to these derelict vessels to ensure that we can more easily attain proper identification of the vessel and its owners, and ensure that they are the ones who are responsible for the removal of the vessel, financially and otherwise.

In conclusion, I appreciate the work by the member for South Shore—St. Margarets in bringing this bill forward. I urge all colleagues to support it. Furthermore, I urge the government to take real action on this and introduce binding legislation that can help communities in need deal with this problem. Unfortunately, the problem will not go away on its own and must be dealt with swiftly. I urge the government to consider this and move quickly, following passage of this motion.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a proud representative of a coastal community on Vancouver Island, I am pleased to stand today to speak to the motion. I would like to thank the member for South Shore—St. Margarets for bringing it forward.

This motion is a good step in the right direction, as it certainly encourages the government to create a mechanism to assist in removing abandoned vessels. As we all know, the NDP has worked on this issue for many years now. My colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith has tabled Bill C-219, which I think will take the real action needed to solve this problem.

There are so many different stakeholders involved in this issue. Many members of the House are involved, but it is of real significance to members who are lucky enough to represent coastal communities, and even to members who have large lakes or rivers in their ridings, because wherever there is a standing body of water that is navigable by a vessel, that body of water is in danger of having abandoned vessels left in it.

I worked on this issue for many years in my riding when I was a constituency assistant to Jean Crowder, the former member of Parliament for Nanaimo--Cowichan, and it is something that does not seem to go away, so I am really glad to see the House taking this issue much more seriously than in previous years.

My riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford is home to a long stretch of Vancouver Island's coastline, both on the east coast and on the west coast. There are places where there are many abandoned, derelict, half-sunken, listing boats that can easily go down in a storm. In fact, in 2014, we had the story of the SS Beaver II, which basically rolled over and sank in Cowichan Bay. It had been identified as a hazard for many months previously, and lo and behold, the thing sank, not to much surprise.

Before that, residents of Cowichan Bay had to deal with the Dominion, a trawler that was basically towed to Cowichan Bay and left there for five full years. It was left there so long that thieves stole fuel from it and started doing damage to the boat, It was listing. It became such a concern and there was such a concerted effort from the community that we finally had the Coast Guard come and take the vessel away.

It is an old problem. It is one that seems to be getting worse. There are a growing number of abandoned vessels on Canada's coasts. Boats are getting older every year, so this is a problem that gets worse over time. The longer we leave this problem, the higher the cost of taking care of the problem will be and the greater the number of vessels we will have to deal with.

Transport Canada has conducted some surveys on the breadth of the issue. It has a list of over 600 abandoned vessels of various types and sizes, but I am sure that the actual number is much higher now, and it is expected to go up.

Furthermore, not every municipality has had the chance to respond. In British Columbia, the last report listed 245 vessels, but that was only from the municipalities that bothered to respond.

A number of proposals came forward in the House in previous years. In 2010, Keith Martin, the Liberal member of Parliament from Vancouver Island, moved a motion for the government to strengthen legislation to deal with derelict vessels and also to impose penalties to recover the cost of cleanup from registered owners.

In the 41st Parliament, Jean Crowder moved two bills. One of them had to come back on the Order Paper because of prorogation, and unfortunately, it was defeated by the Conservative government at the time. I would certainly hope that our Conservative colleagues are having a bit of a change of heart in looking at this issue, because I think it is a non-partisan issue. It is about taking real action on behalf of all coastal communities.

I want to point out to my Liberal colleagues that a number of them still sit in the House today who voted in favour of that bill, Bill C-638. Of note, the current Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the Prime Minister are all on record as having voted for that legislation, and I will expect to see their votes stand up in this Parliament when we get to Bill C-219.

In 2015, in the dying days of the 41st Parliament, we had a half-hearted attempt by a Conservative backbencher, Conservative MP John Weston, to bring in a bill. It had a legal fine of about $100,000 and jail time for those who abandoned, but it was too little too late, in my opinion.

We have had action from the NDP, the Conservatives, and the Liberals on this issue. It is certainly one that all parties are very well aware of.

I will be voting in favour of the motion, but I want to make sure that the House is aware of the contrast between this motion and the bill from my colleague for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Bill C-219. The Liberal motion points to the need for a legislative solution, but unfortunately, it does not compel the government to act.

Motions are great, but we have to look at the very first line, which says, “That, in the opinion of the House”. The government of the day is not bound to follow this motion. It is not a binding motion. I will take note of all the MPs who support it, and it will be great to contrast that with Bill C-219 later to see if the action will be there to back up the words.

The motion compels the federal government to act only if there is an imminent danger. The issue is the fact that the federal government is the only body that can designate someone to intervene before a vessel becomes a hazard. This means that the responsibility falls on us to protect our coastlines. I appreciate the wording of the motion, but I think we need to have further action, and that is why I really want to see action on Bill C-219 later.

It is good to see that there is a six-month timeline in the motion. Hopefully, we will see the government stick to that. I think vessel owners certainly need to be educated about identifying the problems that can come if vessels are abandoned, and so on.

The motion did have an amendment. Several amendments were proposed. One was from my colleague for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, and of course, the Liberals ended up amending their own motion.

The troubling amendment is this:

replacing the words “create a mechanism” with the words “identify mechanisms”

I think this shows that the government is actually a bit scared to take action on this file, because if we go from “creating a mechanism”, which is an action word, to “identifying a mechanism”, we are kind of giving the government a route out, and that, to me, is troubling.

The other removal by the Liberal Party was that consideration be given to “acceding to the Nairobi International Convention for the Removal of Wrecks, 2007”.

This is something that was recommended by Transport Canada in 2010.

We want to see the government take some meaningful steps on this problem. The motion from my colleague for Nanaimo—Ladysmith was that we see, within six months, the dismantling of any abandoned ships or wrecks that lie in waters that are a source of drinking water, threaten the environment, or obstruct navigation. I think that would have made the motion a lot stronger. Unfortunately, it was not passed, but again, we will have time to revisit this issue, hopefully by next year, with Bill C-219.

The problem at the heart of this issue has always been that we live in a land of jurisdictions, as every MP knows. Not only do we have three federal agencies that are responsible for this, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, but we also have conflict with the province, and sometimes with municipalities, first nations' territories, and even port authorities. I have seen issues in my own riding where there has been just a bunch of finger pointing. We just go around in circles. That is why taking action at the federal level and showing true leadership is so urgently needed.

We absolutely need to pass this motion, but more importantly, we need to compare what the Liberal government is prepared to do, when it comes to real legislation on this matter and their votes at the time, with what they did in the past.

We need to create more recycling facilities and support more salvage businesses. We certainly cannot, as my friend, the member for Courtenay—Alberni said, do this with a ship-by-ship approach. It is an urgent problem. If we do not deal with it immediately with concrete action, we are going to be affecting first nations' traditional waters. We will have more oil and sewage spills. Sensitive ecosystems will be affected as well as migratory bird and fish habitat. Of course, it will also affect tourism, which is so important to communities like mine. We get so many American tourists, and the last thing they want to see is an abandoned vessel that has been left on the beach or is listing off to one side.

If we do not take action, municipalities are going to continue to bear the burden.

The main issue with the motion is that it would be non-binding on the government. We hope that will change with a vote on Bill C-219 at a later point.

I would like to thank my colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets for bringing forward this important motion. She certainly has my support on it.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.


Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 40, which raises the issue of derelict and abandoned vessels, as put forth by my hon. colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets.

Protection of Canada's shorelines, harbours, bays, inlets, and lakes from coast to coast to coast is a public trust. Speaking for my constituents of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, and for the multiple organizations and citizens in British Columbia who are deeply concerned about this issue, our understanding of the challenge on the west coast extends beyond derelict and abandoned vessels to include derelict and abandoned barges and docks, as well.

Responsibility for the environment and for the safety and enjoyment of our waterways belongs with all of us. When the owner or occupant of a derelict or abandoned vessel, barge, or dock is unknown or impossible to find or entirely unaccountable, then responsibility ultimately falls on the federal government.

In the past, there has been little oversight and also little recognition that derelict and abandoned vessels, barges, and docks are also used for housing, storage, and docking facilities. In my riding alone, Islands Trust, the District of Squamish, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the town of Gibsons, the village of Lions Bay, Bowen Island, the District of Sechelt, and local citizens have been proactive for years in documenting the problem, researching solutions, and even taking action on their own.

The Harbour Authority Association of British Columbia provided a March 2011 report to the Pacific Regional Canadian Marine Advisory Council arising from requests to address the growing concern within the boundaries schedule of small craft fishing harbours. Following consultations with all 54 harbour authorities, it reported that “all indications are that the extent of this problem is being under-reported”. We all know that this is true.

Our harbour authorities know the problem and need our help. Up until now, multiple jurisdictions have not worked together very well, except in ad hoc situations, and usually when a crisis is occurring.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country is a coastal community. The West Vancouver shoreline stretches along about 24 kilometres of waterfront. The fjord that is Howe Sound extends up to Squamish and includes an archipelago of pristine small islands. The peninsula known as the Sunshine Coast, accessible only by boat or small plane, also includes a significant inland waterway known as the Sechelt Inlet.

Here are three short stories so that we can picture what is happening on the water.

Some time on December 3, 2015, a 15-metre boat, missing its mast and adrift for some time, ran aground at Granthams Landing near Gibsons, B.C., home of the Beachcombers, for those who are fans. The vessel had no name and no registration number attached to it. The vessel, according to the locally elected regional director, presented a clear and present danger to the wharf and waterfront properties. In his words, residents “don’t realize how much of a problem it is until you’ve got a bowsprit that’s poking right at the window of your cabin. Then it becomes real.”

On that night, a neighbour put the word out through Facebook and contacted the RCMP and the Coast Guard, but the hands of government officials were tied. The authorities lacked the jurisdiction to do anything at all. Winter's high winds, big tides, and storm surges added to the challenge, which fell squarely on the locals. Community volunteers worked through the night. Twenty people, led by a local tugboat operator, set up a generator, pumped water out of the hull, and towed the boat to a temporary moorage site, where the residents are keeping an eye on it for now. Since then, about one tonne of garbage has been hauled off the vessel by volunteers.

In Squamish a few months ago, a barge that is essentially a floating toxic waste site, began to list. The mayor of Squamish called me at home on a Saturday to say that barrels and barrels of toxic waste were about to plunge into the Mamquam Blind Channel. She had contacted the Coast Guard, who, in fairness, can only respond when a disaster is imminent. It lacks the jurisdiction to do anything to prevent these incidents. I must compliment the staff at Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard, who acted swiftly and managed to avoid a serious toxic spill, but it depends on the mayor being home and me being home.

Finally, I would like to read from a recent letter I received from a resident on the shores of Porpoise Bay, in Sechelt, concerned about unseaworthy vessels being used as full-time housing or as moorage for other boats.

She writes, “In the past five years, an alarming number of people have chosen to anchor their vessels in Porpoise Bay, just beyond MacKenzie's Marina. Some are used as full-time residences, others have been anchored for years and are not being maintained. In fact, last summer one sank and the Coast Guard had to assist in containing the gas and oil spills from the sunken vessel.”

She gave further examples of a floating home buoyed by the shell of a catamaran with four boats tied up to it, and the charred remains of a tugboat with three boats tied up to it. These vessels are a threat to the environment, to enjoyment of the bay, and to navigation.

We have the opportunity now to take action. The issue has been well researched by the Harbour Authority Association of British Columbia, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Islands Trust, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, all local governments and regional districts in my riding, the Artificial Reef Association, the Government of British Columbia, Port Metro Vancouver, and, of course, Transport Canada have conducted numerous studies and convened numerous committees.

Common themes are that the public right of navigation does not discriminate against unseaworthy vessels and protects squatters or unsafely moored vessels from legal action. Current laws and authority only support action after an incident, rather than taking a preventative approach.

This is a very brief introduction to a complex problem. I would like to thank all the volunteers who have acted quickly to avoid the harm caused by derelict and abandoned vessels, barges, and docks, and who have helped to keep this issue in the forefront.

Motion No. 40 is an important step forward, and the Minister of Transport is taking the lead on this issue. Let us be the Parliament that addresses derelicts and abandoned vessels, barges, and docks for the safety and enjoyment of our communities and for the protection of our natural environment.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to address this issue as a member of Parliament who does not come from a coastal community, but nonetheless sees the importance of this motion and the impact it would have, not just on coastal communities but throughout the country.

We are dealing with a motion that I support because it moves in a positive direction. At the same time, a motion does not have the same authority as legislation. The motion seeks to set us in a direction on this issue. I will mention later a previous actual bill that was proposed by former MP John Weston. We need to see legislation as well as a motion as this will express the will of the House with respect to the direction we want to go. However, it is important that we move forward legislatively to address this important issue for reasons I will go into and for reasons I know many of my colleagues have discussed quite well.

Derelict and abandoned vessels was not an issue I heard about at the doors in Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. I heard about a lot of different issues. Having listened to the debate, having dug into this topic, it is very clear that this does have an impact on my constituents in a number of different ways. One way is the cost. Members have spoken about the cost implications of the large number of derelict and abandoned vessels, and the cost implications of not currently having an effective framework in place for responding to this problem.

There is the cost implication, which affects all taxpayers in all parts of the country. Even if the cost falls on provincial governments, on municipalities, there is obviously an interconnectedness in the transfer of resources between different levels of government. There is only one taxpayer at the end of the day. This is important for the impact it would have on my constituents as well as people in other parts of the country.

There is the environmental impact. All of us are invested in having and maintaining the vibrancy of our coastlines from an environmental perspective. These are places that my constituents visit on a regular basis and appreciate the opportunity to do so. They appreciate the benefits that come with tourism and environmental beauty in those places.

There is also the impact on commerce for my constituency, the importance of our coastlines, of our ports for imports and exports. This has a consequential impact for them as well, even for people who do not live in coastal communities.

That is why I am pleased to see this and to speak in favour of this and to encourage members of the House as well to consider the next steps that come out of the motion. Hopefully we will be able to move forward, even in this Parliament, with some kind of legislative response in the future.

Just by way of context, we have a situation right now where it is estimated that there are close to 400 abandoned vessels. Again, as somebody who does not come from a coastal community, this would seem surprising that people simply would abandon their property in the middle of nature. Certainly that would not happen with a truck or RV. Nobody would think that was a normal or acceptable thing to do, yet we have the issue of abandoned vessels that are causing problems along our coastline.

Right now, municipalities in many cases lack the means to do it, financial or otherwise, and the Coast Guard will only remove vessels if there is an assessment that there is some kind of imminent environmental risk in place.

This leaves us where we are, which is with this very large number of abandoned vessels. In cases where removal is required, there is a significant cost associated with it. My colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets, in her initial speech on this, referred to a vessel that cost $12 million to remove. The vessels name was the MV Miner. That is an enormous sum of money. If we can have a framework in place that deals with this proactively, it actually prevents the problem from existing and prevents the need to respond to it later. That is a lot of money saved. The costs for dealing with vessels will vary widely, depending on the size, the kind of vessel and these sorts of things, but costs can be up into the millions of dollars, as we have heard.

Clearly we have a reason as a House to try to address proactively to confront the problem of existing abandoned vessels, but also to try to put in place an effective framework that will prevent us from having to expend these kinds of dollars in the future. That is the context and that is what we are trying to confront today.

The motion has a number of different aspects to it.

It calls on the government to address the issue of existing abandoned vessels and it puts in place a timeline to do so, and that is important. It is valuable when we have motions in place to say by when and to define the process so it is not just a purely an aspirational statement.

It then calls for prohibition of abandonment and realistic penalties to put in place mechanisms to ensure people do not abandon vessels in the future.

Associated with that, we have the educational component. It is important, if we are to put in new place new rules, for those who own vessels and may be affected by this new framework to be aware of the framework and to be prepared to respond to it. The educational component goes with those new prohibitions and penalties.

The fourth important issue, which ties into this issue of effective enforcement, is improved vessel owner identification. Therefore, if there is an abandoned vessel, there is a good mechanism for ensuring that the person who is responsible for that abandonment can be identified, or at least the owner of the vessel can be, to start the process to ensure there is some real accountability in place.

Finally, there is a mechanism in place for government assistance to address this issue over the long term.

There are a number of different components to the motion, all of which have an important place as part of the discussion to say we have to address the issue of existing abandoned vessels, but also proactively. That proactive part not only is important for the environment. Dealing with the existing vessels addresses the current environmental challenges, but proactively in the future hopefully we can not only prevent the potential environmental problems, but also deal with the cost factor, preventing the taxpayer from being on the hook for some of these costs, whether it be municipal, provincial, or federal taxpayers.

Having spoken in favour of the motion, as much as possible, it is important for us to move forward with legislation, not just with motions. Motions express the will of the House, the aspirations, the opinions of the House, but they are not binding on the government. The government is not required to respond or to implement. Although the motion imagines a legislative framework and lays it out, legislation is needed to bind the actions of government and certainly of people outside of the government.

It is unfortunate but we do have cases where the House passes motions, but the government then chooses not to act on them, or the government in some way reinterprets them to say that the motion did not really mean this, that it meant something else. This is always the challenge when we have discussions of motions in the House.

As I mentioned, a former member of Parliament, John Weston from B.C., had Bill C-695, which did not contain all the different components in this motion. Perhaps one advantage of a motion is that we can, no pun intended, cast the net wider, but legislation has that added force.

Bill C-695 prohibited vessel abandonment and it introduced penalties to do so. It dealt with that proactive potential future abandonment of vessels issue, and that was good legislation. I would certainly support that legislation if it were brought back before the House. Maybe another member, or maybe even the government, will see fit to bring forward Bill C-695 from the previous Parliament and the great work done on that by Conservative member John Weston.

Overall, this is a positive motion. We like the direction in which it goes. It is a step in the right direction. It does not get us all the way to the finish line, but it is an important step. I congratulate the member for bringing it forward and I look forward to supporting it at second reading.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleagues for the thoughtful points they have raised and for bringing their perspectives on this issue from different regions of the country.

Vessel abandonment is a serious and persistent problem in coastal communities all across Canada. Back in June, I made the case during the first hour of debate for taking action on abandoned and derelict vessels due to how these vessels can affect the livelihoods of Canadians, the opportunities for tourism, safety, environmental quality, and navigation, and how there are not many legislative, regulatory, or even practical ways that small coastal communities, or for that matter large coastal communities, can deal with them.

The Port of Shelburne in my riding is a perfect example where everything legally possible has been done to have the abandoned vessel the Farley Mowat removed. However, it is still taking up one-quarter of the port's workspace. I hope that this conversation, and subsequent actions by the government, will address this shortfall, and that parliamentarians, in two, five, or 20 years, will not still be having this same conversation.

People in coastal communities have waited long enough for action. This is not a new issue. I have heard about this problem my whole life, growing up in Nova Scotia, working in different communities on the south shore, raising kids in Bridgewater, during my time campaigning, and now as the member of Parliament for South Shore—St. Margarets. I am thrilled that I've had the ability to raise the profile of this issue and hopefully have a positive response from the House of Commons on Motion No. 40.

If supported by my colleagues in the House, I have confidence that the government, led in this case by the hon. Minister of Transport, will take many of the steps suggested in Motion No. 40 to prevent vessel abandonment in the future, and to find ways to support communities dealing with the burden of an abandoned vessel. I am sure many of us in the House, and many at home, would love to see this problem go away once this vote happens.

Unfortunately, there are not any quick solutions. There is no silver bullet. If the federal government spent hundreds of millions of dollars immediately removing the over 600 abandoned and derelict vessels from Canadian ports, beaches, and shores, it would send a signal to irresponsible vessel owners that abandonment is the most cost-effective disposal option. We cannot do that. We cannot give irresponsible vessel owners a “get out of jail free” card simply by making the taxpayers responsible for cleaning up someone else's mess.

I have proposed that the government develop a comprehensive long-term plan that will, first and foremost, try to prevent vessels from being abandoned in the future. We need solutions that give government and law enforcement more tools in their tool belts to take action on vessel owners who are not being responsible. Expanding the scope of the large vessel register to improve owner identification, ratifying the International Maritime Organisation's International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, and making the abandonment of a vessel an offence, are all steps that can help prevent abandonment from happening and encourage responsible vessel ownership.

We know that most Canadian vessel owners are already being safe and responsible. We know that a very small fraction of owners have not been responsible, for a variety of reasons, and that this has caused an immense burden and headache for communities across Canada. We need some way to address this as well. The only way the federal government can get involved is when the vessel is creating an immediate environmental hazard or is blocking a navigable waterway. Failing these, the onus dealing with the abandoned vessel falls to the unlucky province, community, port, or landowner where the vessel was abandoned. They bear that burden through the inability to sell the land, expenses related to monitoring and inspecting the vessel or the site, lost revenue from docking fees, lost revenue from the effect on tourism, as well as public outcry.

In cases where other avenues have been exhausted, where the presence of an abandoned vessel is creating an economic burden on community, Motion No. 40 asks that the government identify options to assist in its removal. This is an important last resort option. Our coastlines are a source of pride and economic opportunity, and our policies should safeguard them and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. Derelict and abandoned vessels are an economic burden and limit the potential of our waterways and harbours.

To that end, I ask my colleagues in the House to support Motion No. 40.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

(Amendment agreed to)

The next question is on the main motion, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members



Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business


An hon. member


Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 26, 2016, before the time provided for private members' business.

The House resumed from October 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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12:05 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

There are five minutes remaining for questions and comments for the hon. member for Foothills.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

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12:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we know is very different, between the former Harper Conservative government and what this particular Prime Minister and the Government of Canada are trying to do here, is the issue of Canada's pension plan.

The former government did not recognize and did not listen to what Canadians really and truly wanted. It was completely out of touch with Canadians and did not recognize the importance of pension programs, in particular with respect to the CPP.

What we are debating today is a piece of legislation that, if passed, will be somewhat historic in the sense that we are going to see increases to CPP, working in collaboration with the many different provinces from every region of the country. At the end of the day, the biggest benefactor is going to be the worker, and the worker who is going to be retiring in the future.

Why is the Conservative Party still so out of touch with what Canadians really want when it comes to the issue of retirement? Why will the Conservative Party not support the bill?

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12:05 p.m.


John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I find it quite ironic that the member is saying we are the ones who are out of touch. Who did the Liberals actually consult before imposing yet another tax increase on Canadians? They did not consult anybody before the carbon tax. They did not consult anyone before changing the mortgage rules. They did not consult anyone before increasing the CPP tax hike.

I have certainly heard from constituents across my riding and from people across the country. Certainly during the election, while knocking on doors, I did not have a single person tell me that they really wanted to have their taxes increased on CPP and to have a carbon tax, and that was what they were looking for.

We had the tax-free savings account, which Canadians really appreciated. That is what I heard when I was knocking on doors, that people really appreciated the increase in the tax-free savings account, something the government, once again without consulting Canadians, decided to claw back and take away, imposing its own tax increase on Canadians.

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12:05 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the quick footedness of my colleague. I would like to ask him a question.

The Canadian pension plan, depending on which accounting method is used, has a shortfall deficit of between $8 billion and $24 billion. The changes the government has put forward will do nothing to alter that. Does the member think that the government is simply moving ahead ideologically and not looking at actual improvements to help keep the system on a stable and solid basis for Canadians?

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12:10 p.m.


John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for that question and all the hard work he has done, and to congratulate him on his new post as deputy critic for finance.

These changes are not going to do anything for Canadians right now. For seniors, baby boomers moving into seniors, this is something they will not feel for years, if not decades down the line. All this is going to do is increase the already exploding deficit that we have.

The impact in the short term is going to be that business owners are going to have to cut back hours and will not be hiring people. In a very low-growth time, this is something that is going to cost business owners and Canadians more than $2,000 a year. When we are seeing growth predicted at maybe 1% or 1.5% over the year, we need to encourage business owners to hire and grow. This is absolutely the opposite. This will discourage them from growing and hiring.

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12:10 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg South.

Our government is committed to strengthening the backbone of the economy, the middle class, and those working hard to join it. It is with this commitment that our government has delivered on a number of platform promises that were made to hard-working Canadians.

I am proud to stand and speak to Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act. This legislation would strengthen Canada's pension system and was a key promise we made to ensure a secure and dignified retirement for all Canadians. I congratulate the Minister of Finance, who delivered on this commitment by working in close collaboration and common purpose with our provincial and territorial partners.

It must be noted that provincial leaders of every major political party, Liberal, New Democratic, and Conservative, worked diligently on coming to this historic agreement that would benefit generations of Canadians, including my two young children, Natalia and Eliana.

What is at stake is simple. We must strengthen our pension system to reflect the realities that exist today and ensure a dignified and secure retirement for all Canadians.

To start our discussion on the proposed legislation, I believe it is best to review Canada's retirement system as it stands today and why a strengthened CPP is required to address trends that are leaving so many Canadians unprepared for their post-work years. Today's multi-pillared system includes old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, which are paid out of general government revenues and act as a basic income floor for low and middle-income Canadians. The CPP and QPP are funded through mandatory employer-employee contributions, and, in the 1990s, the CPP shifted from a pay-as-you-go system to a pre-funded platform. Finally, we have private workplace pensions and discretionary individual savings, including tax-free savings accounts and registered retirement savings plans.

Despite this multi-pillared approach to the retirement system, a number of trends are emerging that are leaving millions of Canadians unprepared for retirement and potentially facing a material drop in their standard of living.

Extensive analysis conducted by the finance department found that around one-quarter of families nearing retirement, approximately 1.1 million families, are facing a drop in their standard of living. Furthermore, it is estimated that as many as five million Canadians do not have access to a workplace savings arrangement, and many of these middle-class Canadians are at a greater risk of under-saving for retirement. We must act to ensure that all Canadians have a secure and dignified retirement.

In addition, younger Canadians today face circumstances not faced by prior generations in terms of saving for their retirement. Canadians now entering the workforce will face the prospect of changing jobs several times in their lifetime, and a portable pension plan that facilitates job mobility is now a necessity in this changing job market.

Since the 1970s, we have seen a material decline in the overall participation in private sector registered pension plans, as well as an ongoing shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. Statistics Canada estimates that total private sector workplace registered pension plan coverage has declined from 35% to levels now approaching 20%. Frankly, fewer private sector companies are offering workplace pension plans, and many companies have closed or wound up their defined benefit pension plans.

Defined contribution plans are not in their exact nature true pension plans, as they expose individuals to investment risk and swings in the beneficiary's pension plan assets, and a subsequent shortfall in pension savings. Also, a low interest rate environment, which influences the present value of liabilities and has placed cash flow demands on companies to maintain solvency ratios, combined with, frankly, unfavourable accounting rules on pensions, has hastened the move by many companies away from defined benefit pensions.

Our government, in collaboration with the provinces, has taken a carefully targeted approach with this legislation to address the issues I have laid out while striking the important balance between short-term economic considerations and long-term economic gains.

What does an enhanced or stronger CPP mean for Canadians? Quite simply, it means a secure and dignified retirement for millions of Canadians. It means that individuals retiring can worry less about making ends meet and more about spending time with their loved ones, including grandchildren.

Once fully in place, this CPP enhancement would increase the maximum CPP retirement benefit of approximately $13,000 by up to 50%. In today's dollar terms, the proposed enhanced CPP represents an increase of nearly $7,000, to a maximum benefit of nearly $20,000.

The enhancement in this legislation would do two things to make this happen for contributors. First, it will increase the share of annual earnings received during retirement from one-quarter to one-third. This means that individuals making $50,000 today over their working lifetime would receive approximately $16,000 per year in retirement instead of the roughly $12,000 today. Second, it would increase by 14% the maximum income range, to approximately $82,700, so that those who earn more would receive more in retirement.

Enacting these changes with Bill C-26 would result, as estimated by the Department of Finance, in a reduction of families at risk of not having adequate retirement savings by one-quarter, from approximately 24% to 18%, when we consider all pillars of the retirement income system.

To ensure that these things are affordable, we would phase them in over seven years, starting in 2019 through to 2025, so the impact is minimal and gradual. As noted by David Dodge, former governor of the Bank of Canada, “The fundamental challenge [facing decision-makers] is how to provide for adequate retirement income for the future population of elderly people without imposing an undue burden of taxation on the working population and the business sector.”

We have struck this right balance. For example, an individual with earnings of $50,000 will contribute about $6 more a month in 2019, and by the end of the seven-year phase-in period, contributions for that individual would be about $40 per month. Additionally, and this is very important, we would ensure that low-income Canadians would not be financially burdened as a result of the extra contributions. We would enhance the working income tax benefit to roughly offset incremental CPP contributions with little to no change in disposable income, while still securing higher retirement income for low-income Canadians.

A strong CPP will be good for Canadians, and will also be beneficial to the Canadian economy overall. As estimated by the Department of Finance, greater CPP benefits would increase spending by retirees, providing for a boost to economic output. It is estimated that GDP would increase slightly, from 0.05% to 0.09%, and employment levels are projected to be permanently higher, by approximately 6,000 to 11,000 jobs, based on 2015 levels of employment. In addition, higher aggregate saving rates through enhancing CPP would increase the amount of capital available for investment.

The Canada pension plan is a solid program, and actuarially sound. It is fully funded for future generations. The most recent report noted that 5.3 million Canadians received approximately $38.7 billion in payments while contributions totalled nearly $45 billion. It cannot be understated just what advantages the CPP offers. The CPP as a retirement vehicle for Canadians is, in my view, a model for the world. These advantages include that CPP provides a secure, predictable, and stable benefit. Canadians will not outlive their savings, and benefits are not subject to shocks. CPP benefits are fully indexed to prices, so inflation will not reduce the value of a pension. CPP is fully portable, and it fills the gap of a decline in workplace pensions. Overall, CPP is an efficient way to save.

Finally, the CPP Investment Board operates at arm's length from the government, with a mandate to invest CPP funds in the best interests of plan members. It is a model that is independent, transparent, and accountable. It is well regarded around the world for its impressive record of investment performance and management excellence, with a 10-year annualized rate of return of 6.8%.

In closing, Bill C-26 is the next step forward in ensuring that all Canadians retire in a secure and dignified manner. I ask my colleagues to join with me in advancing this important piece of legislation that was brought forward in a collaborative approach between the provinces and the federal government.

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12:20 p.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his comments. I listened intently.

A tax is a tax is a tax, and this is a new tax on the Canadian economy that would hurt business, hurt jobs, and would actually take money out of the pockets of Canadians.

I would like the member to comment on this quote: “Whatever the reason might be to expand CPP, it is not to eliminate poverty.” That quote is from a book written in partnership by the finance minister. In his speech, the member said that this is to help low-income Canadians, yet the finance minister said it has nothing to do with that. Again, a tax is a tax is a tax. If the member would comment, does he agree with the finance minister or disagree with him?