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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Hull—Aylmer (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 May 27th, 1999

moved:

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-32, in Clause 47, be amended by adding after line 16 on page 31 the following:

“(3) At any time after the 60th day following the day on which the Minister offers to consult in accordance with subsection (2), the Minister may act under subsection (1) if the offer to consult is not accepted by the government of a province or members of the Committee who are representatives of aboriginal governments.”

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 May 27th, 1999

moved:

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-32, in Clause 9, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 13 to 17 on page 14 with the following:

«article ne peuvent limiter l'accomplissement d'un acte que le ministre estime nécessaire pour l'application et l'exécution de la présente loi, notamment une inspection ou une enquête.»

Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act May 25th, 1999

moved that Bill C-78, an act to establish the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, to amend the Public Service Superannuation Act, the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, the Defence Services Pension Continuation Act, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pension Continuation Act, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Canada Post Corporation Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-78 is a necessary piece of legislation which makes major changes to public sector pension plans. This bill substantially alters our pension plans as we know them today.

I would like to start by addressing the beneficiaries of those plans, who may have heard, among the various arguments advanced in recent weeks, a number of falsehoods surrounding the amendments the government is planning to make. Please allow me to set the record straight.

First, our employees must know that all the benefits for which they have paid throughout their careers will be fully guaranteed and maintained. There will even be certain improvements under the new legislation, which will result in better benefits.

At the end of the day, the government decided to act, its primary interest being to safeguard and improve the financial future of these pension plans. Our employees and those who have retired from the federal public service can thus be assured of the future of their pension funds.

There is no doubt in my mind that our current public sector pension plans must be brought in line with the new realities.

We have been and always will be concerned about fairness both toward our current and past employees and toward taxpayers. Historically, under the Public Service Superannuation Act, the government and its employees have shared the cost of the pension plan according to a 60:40 ratio. The increase in CPP contributions has gradually changed this ratio which is now 70:30 and which would have reached 80:20 in 2003 if the government had not decided to act now.

The government really wants to ensure the long term viability of these pension funds and to improve their financial management. The government also wants to ensure a more balanced relationship between employees' contributions to these funds and those put in by the government as the employer. This is a question of justice and equity for employees and for Canadian taxpayers, which is the very reason behind Bill C-78.

The three current pieces of legislation that govern public sector pension plans impose limitations that other governments and certain private sector firms have already eliminated. We are a government that is respectful of the individual and, as such, we must be fair and equitable with all.

It is difficult to justify that government employees are sheltered from increases to CPP while other citizens are not. It is also difficult to justify that Canadian taxpayers must continue to pay a larger and larger share of the pension plans of government employees as well as finance any possible deficits in those plans.

It is also unfair that taxpayers should be paying more and more to provide for their own retirements while public servants are paying less and less. The principle of fairness must be the same for our employees as it is for Canadian taxpayers.

In recent years, the pension plans of the public service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Forces have accumulated a surplus of approximately $30 billion.

I have said it before and I will say it again: this surplus belongs to the taxpayers of Canada since they have covered and absorbed all the deficits incurred by the pension funds of government employees. They have assumed all the risks.

Bill C-78 will thus make it possible to take into account both surpluses and deficits and will establish mechanisms for disposing of future surpluses. Existing surpluses will gradually be reduced to an acceptable level over a period of up to 15 years.

What would happen in future if surpluses were to accumulate? It would be the Treasury Board's responsibility to determine how those surpluses would be used; for example, by a reduction of contribution rates.

Naturally, if there were to be a mutual agreement to share the risks with employees, I am certain we could establish a co-management arrangement to share any potential surpluses in the future.

Bill C-78 will also ensure the long-term financial viability of our employees' pension funds by establishing a public sector pension investment board, which will be charged with investing future employer and employee contributions in the financial markets. Investing contributions in diversified portfolios will yield a better rate of return, thus guaranteeing a better future and controlling increasing costs.

This new board will be completely independent of the government and the participants in these plans. It will thus be entirely free in its investment decisions. Other public sector pension plans in Canada have already been investing contributions in the financial markets. This board will be of benefit to our employees.

Our employees have nothing to lose and everything to gain with this new organization. If the performance of the investments I have just spoken of fail to meet expectations, I can assure employees that they would receive the same pension as that provided for under the plan to which they have contributed during their careers.

The government guarantees the integrity of the benefits provided through its employees' pension funds. Bill C-78 re-establishes equity between taxpayers and government employees in terms of the funding of these pension plans. It strengthens the long term viability of the plans and will endeavour to reduce the costs for all contributing members.

Bill C-71, the Budget Implementation Act, also proposes improvements to the Public Service Superannuation Act, the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.

In the future pension benefits will be computed on the basis of the average annual salary for the five best consecutive years covered, compared to six years under the current plan. In simple terms this means better benefits for our employees.

Bill C-78 sets out a series of technical amendments, which will enhance the benefits associated with the pension plans of federal employees. It will also reduce the contribution rate for the supplementary death benefit plan and the employees' group insurance plan and will increase benefits.

Bill C-78 will also grant survivor benefits to same sex partners. The Government of Canada would thus be making the provisions of these pension plans similar to those of several public and private sector plans. For example, I am thinking of the Ontario municipal pension employees retirement plan, or similar plans which have been modified in New Brunswick or in Saskatchewan. I can even think of private companies like Sears, Dow Chemical or Shell.

Furthermore, I would note that the approach adopted in Bill C-78 is supported by the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in M vs. H.

I am satisfied that the changes we are planning to make to the three public sector pension plans are realistic and fair.

I would also remind the House that we consulted with our partners, including the unions, over a long period and were unfortunately unable to reach an agreement on the reforms that needed to be undertaken.

For a long time we have needed to take action and we have taken action. This bill is fair and equitable for both the beneficiaries of these plans and for Canadian taxpayers. This bill will modernize and improve public sector pension plans. I am also fully satisfied that the majority of government employees firmly believe that the government is acting to protect and improve their future retirements.

I hope that all members of parliament will see the necessity for the government to act now, will support the government and will vote in favour of this legislation.

Division No. 448 May 13th, 1999

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Public Service May 10th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, yes, the main science oriented departments have established recruitment strategies to ensure their needs are met. They are doing so through the regular programs of the Public Service Commission and through pilot projects they have already begun to put in place.

The auditor general has quite rightly alerted us, and we are in the process of putting place the measures that will ensure we have the scientists the government needs.

Military College In Saint-Jean May 10th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, as members know, we have already invested $25 million to keep the campus going and help it become an institution that serves the entire region. We are now negotiating with regional officials to find a way of allowing this campus to continue to be used for the benefit of the local population.

Taxation May 5th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be able to say once again that this government has the taxpayers' interests at heart.

What we are doing with the pension plan is returning to Canadian taxpayers what is rightly theirs, something the Conservative government did not manage to do during its years in office.

Public Service Pension Plan May 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, members will note that in the recent pension plan we have increased the benefits to our workers.

In the last budget we put in hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the quality of our troops. Wherever members look, they will see that the government has not only worked to the benefit of the Canadian population, but especially to the benefit of the RCMP, the armed forces and the public service.

Bill C-78 April 30th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, again, the act is very clear. The issue went all the way to the supreme court. Taxpayers, through the government, are the sole owners of the surplus. Public servants will receive all the benefits that they were promised under the act. They will even get additional benefits under the proposed legislation.

It is the taxpayers who must get the surplus that they paid for.

Bill C-78 April 30th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the committee invited its own witnesses. This is up to the committee.

As for the $30 billion surplus, again, the rights of public servants are not only fully respected, but their benefits are guaranteed under the law. The legislation currently before parliament even increases these benefits.

With regard to the surpluses, public servants are getting all the benefits for which they made contributions. Since the risks are fully assumed by the taxpayers, the money should belong to them.