Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, unlike the leader of the Liberal Party, I was very pleased when I first heard of the Prime Minister’s remarks in Davos. I saw headlines which read “Prime Minister’s Retirement Plan” and I was excited because I thought it meant he was retiring. I am one of the many Canadians who have no pension at all. I have been self-employed all my life. I have put a little bit in RRSPs now and then when I can afford it. I know how hard it is to ask employees to voluntarily set aside money for retirement. The voluntary nature of this pooled plan and the fact that it will be managed by the private sector speak against its benefits.
Does the hon. member think we can expand CPP right now to deal with those people who do not have pensions?
Hon. Bob Rae: Mr. Speaker, I hope we can. The CPP is a joint plan. It is run jointly by the federal government and the provinces. I agree with the hon. member that we have to recognize that the economy of the past, where people went into the workforce after high school or university and thought their jobs were for life and that they had secure pensions, has changed. Thirty years ago, who would have thought that Nortel would be gone, or that companies we relied on and thought would be there would not be there?
I see my colleague from Sudbury looking at me. When I first started working in Ontario in the 1970s there were 18,000 hourly employees at Inco. There were 15,000 at Hilton Works in Hamilton. Those days are gone. We have to recognize the need for change. The public sector needs to step up with a flexible plan. Until we get the provinces onside, the best we can do is to have some sort of competition for the proposed private plan. We have to recognize that we still have a long way to go to get to a better situation for our current workers and future retirees.