Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act (Bill C-25)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for her speech on the pension issue. She has been very involved in the question of pensions for a long time.

I stand with the members of the opposition parties in general in believing that the CPP is our best and most reliable pension system and that it must be expanded. I am concerned about this new approach, because it is discretionary. It appears to create the greatest benefit for those people who buy and sell investment services.

I would like to ask my hon. friend what can be done and whether we can put forward perhaps a private member’s bill from this side of the House to ensure that we protect the pensions that are held in firms that go into bankruptcy. For such plans as that of Nortel or Catalyst Paper and others, can we make those secured creditors in bankruptcy?

Hon. Judy Sgro: Mr. Speaker, we had many discussions and actually asked many questions of the government on this side of the House in that whole debacle with Nortel, calling on the government to make the kind of changes to the Bankruptcy Act that would eliminate the contribution holiday. The government did take some action on that part of the file, requiring a larger amount of surplus before they could take a contribution holiday, but there is much more to be done when we come to this whole issue of protecting individuals’ pensions.

We all believe that, when we put money into a pension fund, it is sacrosanct. Certainly, we Liberals believe it has to be protected 100%. We have to realize people are counting on that money to be there, and if a company goes bankrupt and leaves them as Nortel did, many have nowhere to go.

We have examined many different options. The Province of Ontario has a fund, as does the U.S., which backs up to $1,000 per month some of the pensions of companies that go bankrupt, but that is under huge pressure and it is not necessarily the best answer either.