Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here at this, the final reading of this bill, before the vote tomorrow and hopefully the bill's going on to the Senate.
It has been a long journey. Over the last at least 10 years, possibly longer, there have been numerous efforts to bring forward bills to get the pension protection Canadians deserve.
Basically, when I looked at the work that had been done, in every one of them there was something that not everyone could agree on, so I cherry-picked from all the different ideas that people could agree on and said, “Let us at least do something. Let us move in the direction of good.”
This bill would do three things.
It would table a report in the House on the solvency of pension funds, so we can have greater transparency and know which funds are in trouble.
It would create a mechanism for us to transfer funds into an insolvent fund from elsewhere in the business, with no tax implication, so we can fix the problem before it becomes a difficulty for the pensioner.
Then, in the event of a bankruptcy, we would pay out pensions in priority over secured creditors like large banks, preferred creditors, and unsecured creditors. That will put pensioners in a much better position. Pension funds will be solvent, in general, and when there is a bankruptcy, large creditors are way more likely to be able to survive one company's going bankrupt than an individual who has paid into their pension and is counting on it for their retirement.
The bill has had much study. It has heard input from all kinds of stakeholders, and we are here today with what I think is a really good balance of all the rights of the pensioners and those of the suppliers. I think we have a very acceptable balance.
I want to thank a number of people, the member for Elmwood—Transcona, the member for Manicouagan and the member for Joliette, as well as all the finance committee members. There have been numerous people who have helped this bill along, provided their input and provided suggestions to improve it. I want to thank the member for La Prairie, who traded his private member's spot for today in order to move this up quickly and get it over to the Senate.
It just shows that there is broad support for the bill. When we look at the concerns that were raised about the bill, there was one amendment that was made at committee to include severance pay and termination pay in the priority. I supported that. I said I supported it at second reading, but it was ruled out of scope by the Chair and eventually back in the House, where the Liberals wanted the Speaker to rule on it. I think the Speaker was correct in saying that committees do not have the power to put things in that are out of scope, but then we brought a unanimous consent motion.
The member for Elmwood—Transcona brought the motion to have the House decide to put that amendment back in. Unfortunately, at that point, the Liberals did not support that amendment, and the motion did not receive unanimous consent.
That amendment is now out of the bill. That was the controversial part. I think we can agree that the rest is the right thing to do for Canadians.
I am happy to hear the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader say tonight that he has not yet made his decision on how he is going to vote. I would encourage him to vote yes to Bill C-228.
Now is the time, in this parliamentary session, for us, after 10 years of bringing various and sundry bills, to finally do the right thing for Canadians and protect people who have worked their whole lives and paid into a pension fund. It is time to give it the priority it needs to have.
I look forward to the vote tomorrow, and I look forward to having all parties in the House support Bill C-228.