Bill C-201 was re-introduced by NDP Member Peter Stoffer on November 21st, 2008. This Private Members’ Bill deals with Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Forces (CF) pensions.
As a pension, those serving in the RCMP or CF receive 2% per year, based on the best five years of his/her career, up to age 65. For example, a 20 year veteran would receive 40% based on his/her best five years. As many RCMP and CF personnel retire before age 65, a Bridge Pension Plan is provided, which would bridge the employee until the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) kicks in at age 65 (eligible at 60). CF members pay 25% of the cost of the plan while Canadian taxpayers pay 75%. These pensions are also fully indexed.
Upon retirement, members receive a pension that is made up of two parts: a lifelong pension that remains the same before and after age 65, and a “bridge” benefit which is paid from the day of retirement until age 65 when members begin receiving full benefits from the Canada Pension Plan. The purpose of this bridge benefit is to provide extra income until the member is eligible to receive CPP. This is exactly what the plan was designed to do, and this is what members have paid for.
Once the member turns 65 and is eligible to collect CPP then the bridge has fulfilled its function and is no longer payable; this is consistent with most pension plans that offer bridging. Again, at age 65 it is the bridge that disappears. There is no clawback of CPP or OAS.
Bill C-201 wants to top up the CPP to equal the Bridge Pension allowance.
The Government’s position is this: the terms of this Bridge Pension were negotiated and agreed to in the past and should not be reopened. The cost of revisiting this policy would be a onetime cost to taxpayers of $7B and annual costs would be in excess of $110M which would equate to a 2.2% pay deduction per active member. Implementing Bill C201 would also trigger other civil service unions to request the same benefit, which could cost billions more. I can assure you that CF and RCMP retirees are getting 100% of what they paid for.
This position by our government is not a slight on people that have spent their career protecting our nation and our communities. In 2007 Veterans Affairs increased funding to CF veterans by $350M and expanded benefits to spouses of veterans. I know this has made a difference as many veterans in my constituency have thanked me for the increase.
I do not like the opposition parties playing politics with this issue because they are driving a wedge for political purposes. As government we need to look at all competing interests for taxpayer dollars. I believe the position our government has taken is fair to taxpayers and to those that have served our country faithfully.