Mr. Speaker, this is the first opportunity I have had to speak since the election. I want to thank Herb Grubel who represented Howe Sound before me. I know Herb served this House very well in the one term he was here. He is now back at Simon Fraser University and working with the Fraser Institute. I know all members would like me to wish him well. I would like to, on behalf of all the constituents, thank him for the job he did while he was here.
I would also like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election and the election of all the deputy Speakers. I was here 25 years ago making a speech in this House in 1972 as a Conservative member of Parliament. It is quite interesting to listen to the speeches in this debate. In 25 years some things do not change.
I thank the constituents of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast for sending me back. As my youngest son said to me, that was a quarter of a century ago. It was before he was even born, but I have six other children who were already born. I am not sure they enjoyed my time when I was here before because it is a lot different when you are 30 years of age with five children and be a member of Parliament than it is when you are 55 years of age and you have all your family grown up.
I can thank my constituents for sending me here. I know I am going to enjoy this session. I am certainly enjoying being a Reform member of Parliament. When I look back and read the first speech I ever made in this House, I could say most of the same things today. A lot of things do not change.
Let us look at the Canada pension plan. I heard my good friend, the member of the Tory party, speaking a couple of times before me talking about what the Tories would do and I listened to what the Liberals would do, yet this plan is $560 billion in debt. Some things just do not change. We have a major debt in this country and we have a pension plan that is not working very well in this country.
I think the people in this country, as this debate goes along, are going to start really wanting to know what is happening with the Canada pension plan. Where are they going to be when they want to retire? I think it is pretty scary. It is scary when I hear Liberal members on the other side. I heard a member from the Conservative Party talking about how Reform wanted to cancel the RRSP. The election is over. They should get that nonsense out of their heads. This party never said it was going to cancel RRSPs. Our plan for the Canada pension plan is one that should be listened to by the Canadian people and should be listened to by all sides of this House because it makes a lot of common sense.
I heard a member on the other side the other day talking about Bre-X because our plan would involve using the private sector. What would happen to all these poor pensioners if they had been involved in Bre-X? Even the member does not know how pension plans invest their money or it is just a straight scare tactic. There are bad companies every year in the stock market.
Companies that invest in the stock market do not just invest in one company. The Ontario teacher's pension plan in 1995 was worth $25 billion, in 1996 $35 billion and in April 1996 was up to $41 billion. It probably had shares in Bre-X. Most Canadian pension plans did. It was on the Toronto stock exchange. Thank God it was not a BSE stock or we on the west coast would have taken all the heat for that one.
Bre-X was a disaster as far as a stock is concerned. But all the pension plans went up last year even with the Bre-X situation. If we look at the average return, the Ontario teacher's pension plan has earned 16.7% in 1997 so far and over four years it averaged 12.1%. That is not a bad return. The overall performance in the private sector is 8% to 10% but the teacher's plan is 16.7% and the CPP, 2%. By the year 2000 it will be 1.8%. How can we expect any Canadian to think they can retire on a pension plan that is going to give them 1.8% to 2%?
The private sector in this country does a good job. Why are we here not more concerned about a government that wants us to do a CPP that will only give a small amount of money? The CPP is going to have $10 billion annually by the year 2003. It is a tax grab. It is like the EI. There will be a few billion in the bank. Where is going to come from? It will come from the people who work, the people who want a fair pension when they retire. Every member in the House knows what they think about our pension plan. This plan does not come anywhere close. Most guys who retired after the last election get as much in a month as these people will get in a year with this plan.
Even the Quebec pension plan is better managed than the CPP. It is a province that has its own pension plan and it has done a better job than the federal government. Maybe my province of British Columbia should look at opting out the CPP and getting its own pension plan. Maybe it could do a better job.
Individual premiums are going to increase from $945 to $1,645 per year, and this is what the average Canadian has to think about. To the average taxpayer that is a lot of money. We are talking about $700.
A lot of people are probably a bit jaded about the money, but to the average constituent $700 is a lot of money. If there are two people working that is $1,400, over $100 a month. We in the House have to start thinking about the average Canadian and not relating to our pension plan which is what we are doing overall.
What are average Canadians going to do when they have to put out this extra money? How are they going to look after their families? We in the House do not seem to think much about that.
We are asking the young people to assume a national debt of $600 billion and now we are asking them to pay the CPP debt at the same time. Young people in this country are getting very frustrated because they cannot get ahead. They want a better pension plan and a better tax system. We all know that. The debate in this House in this session is the lead off to why we are going to see a revolution in this country to change the tax system. The CPP is just going to be the start. People are fed up paying more and more money to the government for fewer services.
The Liberal minister said they are going to get a better return on investment by setting up a new CPP investment board appointed by cabinet. Even the Liberals laugh at that because they know. At least they could bring it to the House or to committee so we could all look at where it was going.
We have some of the best companies in the world here in Canada. Some American companies have been bought out because they have been very successful in the mutual fund business. Why are we not using those companies just we are suggesting? Use the companies in Canada to help us invest the CPP. Put it right into the private sector which has done well. A politically driven board is not going to solve the CPP problems in the country.
The CPP needs an overall review. It was a nice thought when it was started because we all wanted a pension plan. But it has not worked and people cannot live on $8,844 per year. Anybody who thinks they can is not looking at reality.
Modern day pension plans are defined contribution plans. These take many forms, but in these plans the contributor personally owns the contribution and the accrued growth. That is what is extremely important and the public should remember that, defined contribution plans.
My party is looking at this type of plan to help Canadians get a plan which will give them something they can retire on.
The government is asking employees and employers to increase their CPP contributions. That will hurt small business. If we took a portion of that money and put it into a private sector plan, instead of retiring on $8,000 a year the numbers could get up to $24,000, $30,000 or $40,000 based on what people have been investing in mutual funds over the last 100 years since they have been available.
Any member of the House who has RRSPs in a mutual fund company will know that they have grown a lot more than the CPP in the last few years. Why do we not give Canadians the chance to have their individual account where they can see the money going in every month and receive a statement every month showing the growth in the plan, which would be protected by both the government and the private sector?
If the government does not believe in that it does not believe in this country. It does not believe in the private sector which runs this country. That is a shame.
Canadians have to take some responsibility for their own plans and the way to do that is by allowing them to participate.
I want to talk about the Ontario teachers pension plan and other major pension plans in the country. Those plans are doing better than the government pension plan. They are being run by the private sector. Even the most socialistic of groups that have a pension plan run by the private sector is doing better than it would with the CPP.
I implore the government to listen to what is being said in the House. Let us look at the pension plan which the Reform Party is recommending to Canada. Let us ensure that this debate goes on long enough so that Canadian people will know that this plan is the second biggest tax grab in our country's history.