House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I ask that the vote be deferred until 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 20, immediately before the time provide for private members' business.

The House resumed from March 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the motion to create a financial literacy leader. I really struggled with it. What does this mean? As I read into it more and more, I came to the realization that it was not a new leader we needed in financial literacy. We need to address the dire condition in which our citizens live. We need to address unemployment. We need to address the fact that the cost of living is going way up. We need to address, and the government has failed to address, the rising costs of credit cards. It has failed to address the fact that the average Canadian right now has a debt load of 150% of their income. That is just unacceptable.

One thing I learned a long time ago is just creating a leader—

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but I would like to ask for some order in the House. The member for Newton—North Delta has the floor and there will be time for questions and comments. I ask members to wait until they are recognized.

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, Canadians are struggling with an onslaught of attacks from the government across the way, an attack through the Trojan Horse budget bill, an attack on environmental assessment, an attack on pensions, just to mention a few things. This is at a time when the gap between the rich and poor is growing in Canada. Some people in my riding are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. Others are worried about being able to pay their bills from week to week.

Creating a financial literacy leader absolutely will not address the issues. This is what I find a bit hypocritical. This is at a time when government is cutting jobs that serve citizens across Canada, and we see heavy cutting in some areas. For example, people have to wait on the phone for longer and longer and have to go to the web to get essential services like EI. They cannot get a hold of a human being to ask questions. Yet the government wants to create a new leader, another layer of bureaucracy, without a clear mandate, without a clear accountability structure, without knowing what that person will do. It is time for the government to stop doing things like that.

There is a time for accountability and citizens look to us for that. However, the government has demonstrated over and over again that it is not about accountability. The Conservatives have shut down debate in the House over and over again, so the citizens of Canada do not get to find out what they are really up to. I do not know what their rush is. It is as if the Conservatives want to skate through and pass as much legislation as they can in as short a time as they can and interfere with parliamentary democracy. If anything, what would give the Canadian public confidence, and maybe more literacy about finance, is if the Minister of Finance would walk into the House and table reports and then let us debate them and take our time. At least the members could carry out the responsibility with which we have been entrusted.

We are not just about opposing. We have some solutions and really good solutions. We look forward to this bill going to the committee. When it does, we will try to mitigate the damage it will do. We will try to address key issues. We will add the fact that there should be a requirement for bilingualism. We are a bilingual nation and yet once again the government manages to produce legislation where the second official language is not given the due respect it deserves. We will add provisions to define what is meant by “financial literacy”. Right now, it is smoke and mirrors. It is “let's do something but not tell anybody what we are doing”, so much like many of the other things we have seen happen in the House.

We will also move amendments that will recognize that financial literacy means different things, depending on one's income, gender and age. We will also ensure that whoever or whatever system is put in place is more accountable.

Let us face it, the legislation will not create more jobs. It will not address the needs of citizens in Atlantic Canada, or in western Canada, or central or northern Canada who only want to have a decent paying job to support themselves. Nor will the legislation address what the government needs to address but has failed, and that is a better plan for retirement security by expanding the guaranteed Canada and Quebec pension plans. That is where we should be putting our energy. We should also be looking at affordable housing. We should be looking at the things that everyday citizens are struggling with.

Instead, once again, what is the Conservative solution to the everyday struggle of Canadians? It is that we should have a literacy leader. I wish just creating a leader would solve all our problems, but I can assure everyone it is not.

Let me read what Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist in the Globe and Mail, had to say. He stated, “it's disappointing to see banks, advice firms, investment dealers and mutual fund companies treated solely like part of the solution to the lack of financial literacy in Canada, and not part of the problem as well”.

Who were the key people the minister listened to, the ones who designed this legislation? It was the financiers, the bankers. The government certainly did not set up an advisory committee of citizens who would be impacted, those who experienced the high costs of credit cards and who suffered during the stock market meltdown. Once again, the very people who created some of the problems are the advisers.

The article went on to say that it did not matter how literate one was, the financial markets were increasingly irrational.

Barrie McKenna, who is a business columnist for the Globe and Mail, said:

The average credit-card agreement is as intuitive as quantum physics...

Canadians are constantly bombarded with pitches to take on more debt, whether it’s right for them or not. They’re often blindly steered toward high-fee products and complex financial instruments. The accompanying disclosure statements are written by, and for, lawyers...

There is a sounder and arguably less-costly path, but it doesn’t suit the financial services industry or many business groups. Ottawa could mandate plain-English disclosure.

What would that cost? Nada. The amount of time that is going to be spent debating this bill could be spent debating capping the credit card rates, simple disclosure laws and also trying to address the real concerns of Canadians.

He goes on to say:

Working with the provinces, it could enhance regulation of industry sales incentives and defined-contribution pensions.

And Ottawa could beef up the CPP, mandating that Canadians sock away more money for retirement, while benefiting from the CPP Investment Board’s low administrative costs.

I am not going to pretend to be an accountant or a lawyer, but I look at a very simple fact like this. In the last quarter, the CPP outperformed the markets by a margin of 10 to 1. What an example we could set for Canadians if we were to say that we as parliamentarians, who manage the taxes they pay, have seen the wisdom of this and that is what we will do for them. However, instead, what do we do? We are now going to have a new financial leader and we are going to tell people that instead of retiring at 65, they are going to have to keep working until age 67, that they can do it. We are going to be the cheering section edging them on along that path.

I would urge all members in the House to take a look at what is really impacting Canadians today and not create another level of bureaucracy that is going to add nothing to what Canadians need.

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I listened with bemusement to my colleague's comments, but I want to pick on one little point. She said that the CPP had outperformed the market by 10% last year. Does she understand that the CPP is actually invested in the market and there are very educated people who manage CPP investments in the market? That is what are we are talking about, some financial literacy so other people can make informed decisions as well.

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I wish I could say that I was amused by my colleague's delivery but I will say that he has made his point. When we have a collective, a publicly funded, publicly managed, public pension fund, and it is managed by—

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Bob Zimmer

It sounds like you need financial literacy.

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt. I am requesting members to have more orderly conduct. There is a member who has the floor and I would ask members to respect that.

Financial Literacy Leader Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

That it is the best way for us to ensure that Canadians have a secure retirement. That is what it is all about. It is not about creating another position of bureaucracy. It is not about telling people to save more money when they are finding it difficulty to make ends meet. We need to look at this in a very productive way so that we serve the needs of the public.