Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Laurier):
Mr. Speaker, I am sure the house will welcome the statement made by the Prime Minister with reference to the betterment of pension conditions for employees of the Canadian National Railways.
The Prime Minister correctly said that in 1959 there were important financial changes made with reference to the Canadian National Railways pension plan, as there were in a previous period, the date of which escapes me at the moment, when the predecessor of the present government was in office.
The Prime Minister was also right in saying that these matters are disposed of first and foremost by the Canadian National Railways pension plan board. This group comprises people who deal with the actuarial soundness of the pension plan of the Canadian National Railways. Unless my memory fails me at the moment there are approximately 15 or 20 members representative of the various railway unions and of the various divisions of the operating branches of the Canadian National Railways.
The Prime Minister was also quite right in saying that the matter had been submitted to the sessional committee on air lines and other agencies owned and operated by the government, which committee had heard evidence on the matter. I am sure the house will remember also that representations had been made by the hon. member for Kenora-Rainy River (Mr. Benidickson) to the committee and the house on many occasions with reference to the betterment of conditions concerning this pension plan.
While I have no right to introduce a contentious note, and have no intention of doing so, I would remind the house and the Prime Minister that these matters might well have been disposed of a long time ago. It could well have been done by the sessional committee or on recommendation from them. It might well have been done much earlier in the session by a bylaw passed by the Canadian National Railways, which is now tabled. This government has been in office now over 4J years and could have done it at a prior time.
Subtopic: ANNOUNCEMENT OF CHANGES IN PENSION PLAN