Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on behalf of my party in support of Bill C-12, an act to amend the RCMP Superannuation Act.
The legislation gives members of the RCMP serving abroad as peacekeepers the same benefits as their counterparts in the armed forces in the event of illness, injury or death. It has been too long in coming.
While we support its passage at third reading, we hope that in future when we ask our young men and women to place their lives on the line for their country they will not have to worry about their benefits and our commitment to them.
We must recognize that when our peacekeepers are serving abroad in war zones, areas of civil strife or natural disaster they are on duty around the clock, putting their lives at risk for their country 24 hours a day.
Canada is respected around the world for its commitment to peace and as a leader in peacekeeping missions. We as representatives of the people must ensure that every measure is taken to give full support to our peacekeepers and their families both at home and abroad.
The legislation is intended to provide RCMP members who serve as peacekeepers the same health benefits as their counterparts in the armed forces. It is a step in the right direction and is only fair.
However, more must be done to recognize the service of our peacekeepers and the sacrifices they and their families make in the name of peace on behalf of all Canadians. The issue of equity for all those who serve Canada must be addressed both at home and abroad, particularly with respect to the RCMP that currently do not have the same collective bargaining rights as their brothers and sisters in other law enforcement agencies across the country.
We hear stories of members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families having to use food banks to sustain themselves. Men and women who put their lives on the line for their country and for peace around the world are forced to live in near poverty conditions when they return home to Canada.
Long expected raises for servicemen and women have been put on hold. This is in stark contrast to the Treasury Board decision to pay huge bonuses to an executive group of the public service averaging from $4,300 to $12,000, illustrating the government's bias in favour of the executive ranks while denying long, outstanding, legally required pay settlements to lower paid workers.
Recent history shows that the Canadian government will use its power against its own employees to take away rights and discriminate against low paid workers. In the name of fiscal restraint, the government has in the past passed legislation to take away employee bargaining rights, freeze wages and remove job security.
The slash and burn policies of the government jeopardize the lives of Canadians at home and abroad. Half of the military installations across Canada have been closed. Aircraft and equipment are being mothballed, services reduced and thousands of jobs lost in both the public and private sector.
This has been the impact of the Liberal government and demonstrates its lack of commitment not only to our peacekeepers but to all Canadians. It is timely to address these issues at a time when all Canadians are encouraged to reflect upon the great sacrifices made by all members of our services on behalf of Canada and peace around the world.
We support Bill C-12 and hope that it is the beginning of a renewed commitment to our peacekeepers and indeed to all Canadians, for the government has a very long way to go to restore equity and fairness to Canadians. We in the NDP will continue to fight to ensure that it does.
Subtopic: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act