Madam Speaker, I am coming to you from the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.
When I saw this was to be debated this afternoon, I thought I would like to add a few personal comments, because the issue of people's pensions has always been a point of passionate interest for me. In fact, over the years, I was aghast to learn that people could actually lose their pensions. I do not know if people who are in their golden years and live on pensions like the OAS, the Canada pension plan, or their company plan or a government plan think that those could all of a sudden partially or fully not be there. I do not think anyone ever thinks about that. I was aghast to find out that people could lose the pensions they had worked for all their life. I assume they have planned their life around living on those pensions when they are no longer able to work.
For years, I have been hearing from people who worked for Nortel. They lost their pension years ago, and must be in a terrible situation now.
The previous speaker outlined, in great detail, how this was a very complex legislated area and he outlined a number of positive steps the government had taken. It helped to enhance retirement security through the Budget Implementation Act, 2019 when it added balanced changes to the BIA, the CCAA, the Canada Business Corporations Act, the CBCA, and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, the PBSA. These changes followed national consultations with companies, labour groups, pensioners, experts and the general public. Therefore, along with those changes and the consultations, which the previous member mentioned, these are all steps in the right direction. In fact, I was really delighted when the government was able to work with the unions and make a deal with the provinces and territories to expand the Canada pension plan, which again is sustenance for people who otherwise would not have it or have access to it.
However, there are still situations where there are problems. What I want people to think about, whether this gets to committee or other forums, is how we solve the problem of protecting the money people and their company have put into a pension fund. People plan to retire on that money. They plan to use that to buy food or pay for heat in their senior years. I am not an economist or a pension expert so I do not know exactly how that would be done.
If hard-working people are putting aside contributions to a pension fund through their company, there should be some way to protect that. I do not know if that might mean legally requiring that money be put in a different bank account or an institution and it cannot be taken out. I am looking for an answer to the problem. Whether this bill is the answer or not, I do not know, but I certainly think this discussion has to occur.
That is why I am glad this concept is before Parliament. If that money were legally required to be separated, then I am not sure we would be debating this issue today. I think this has been debated at times in the past.
The Conservative speaker mentioned there were a number of solutions to this problem and that is all I am looking for, is a solution to this problem.
The NDP acknowledged what the Conservatives were saying in that this will change the financial situation and the financial systems. It would for secured creditors. Certainly, we have to look at a different system.
We want Canadian businesses to thrive. We want them to be competitive in the global world. I think the point was brought up earlier in the debate that we have to consider how to keep our companies competitive with those around the world because that is what our companies are competing with in this modern connected world. That is an important consideration as we determine a solution that must be found for this problem.
When the system is set up with rules in place so pensions are somehow protected, those people starting and running companies will know that right from the very beginning. Their business plans will be structured on that. Their financing will be structured on that, so there will be no surprises, and the business could move on under whatever those rules are.
A point was made about struggling companies and certainly, whatever the solution is, it has to make sure as much as possible that companies can be helped when they are getting close to insolvency. We want to keep them in place so there are still jobs for the workers. The solutions to that should not be the life savings of hard-working people. That should not be the solution to keeping a company solvent so people have jobs.
They have to find other methods to deal with the restructuring and keeping companies solvent, making sure they can get adequate financing, but it should not be on the backs of people who have worked their entire lives to support their families. When they get to a few years of rest and retirement, they should be able to have that support.
I am looking for whatever solution can be found for that. The problem still exists. Government has made very good progress toward improving the situation, but it needs to be completely improved so people's pensions will always be there.