Financial Literacy Leader Act

An Act to amend the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.


Jim Flaherty  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act to create the position of Financial Literacy Leader within the Agency. The Leader is to be appointed by the Governor in Council to exercise leadership at the national level to strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians. The amendments also provide for the other powers, duties and functions of the Financial Literacy Leader.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 20, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
June 20, 2012 Passed That this question be now put.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:35 p.m.
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Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

moved 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.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:35 p.m.
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Saint Boniface Manitoba


Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is a wonderful opportunity to kick off debate at second reading for Bill C-28, the financial literacy leader act.

Before continuing, I would like to acknowledge and applaud the work of the chair of the finance committee and the member for Edmonton—Leduc for championing financial literacy in Parliament through his Motion No. 269. Today's legislation is a clear indication that his motion has helped to draw attention to the issue and has highlighted the need for swift action.

This is relatively short and straightforward legislation designed to establish the position of a financial literacy leader within the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Nevertheless, today's bill is very important because it gives Canadian families what they need: the right tools to make the best financial decisions.

We live in a world with a growing number of increasingly complex financial products and services, all with different rewards and risks, which may not be the easiest to understand: insurance, mortgages, investments, online banking, savings accounts, loans, lines of credit, retirement savings accounts, cellphone contracts, debit and credit cards, and the list just goes on and on. What is more, the list of products and services available to Canadians gets longer every year, making it even more difficult for busy moms and dads to stay on top of the risks, fees and potential returns.

In such a rapidly changing environment, financial literacy is vital to help Canadians make informed and responsible financial choices. Improved financial literacy can translate into higher savings levels and decreased indebtedness. It gives consumers the tools and knowledge they need to pick the products and services that are right for them.

As the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has said:

Financial literacy is an important life skill. Canadians make financial decisions throughout their lives, many of which involve significant risks and rewards. Improving financial literacy helps consumers act knowledgeably and with confidence in managing their personal financial affairs. Informed consumer decision-making, in turn, contributes to the maintenance of a well-functioning and stable financial system and a stronger economy.

The Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services has said:

By embracing financial literacy, individuals and families can discover a new sense of personal control and mastery over their financial matters.

Our government is in complete agreement. That is why we have taken major steps since 2006 to improve financial literacy in Canada. The first of these steps was the creation of the task force on financial literacy under Canada’s economic action plan, as set out in the 2009 budget.

The task force, composed of leaders from consumer groups, the financial sector, the media and academia, got down to work. However it was not content to hold closed-door meetings in Ottawa. It went out to meet directly with Canadians, and more importantly still, to listen to them.

It launched a public consultation tour from one end of the country to the other, going to every province and territory to hear from Canadians themselves what they think about this important issue.

In the course of these wide-ranging consultations, public sessions were held in over a dozen Canadian cities, ranging from the big urban centres such as Toronto, Calgary and Montreal to more remote places like Iqaluit and Yellowknife.

The task force thus had the opportunity to meet in person with close to 200 individuals and organizations. It also received briefs, through its website, and even held an online forum for those who were unable to attend the public sessions.

I am happy to note that the consultation process was very positively received by Canadians, leading to tremendous feedback. By the end of the consultation period, the task force had received more than 300 submissions. In addition to what it heard from Canadians, the task force also drew on its review of Canadian and international best practices and conducted additional research on financial literacy.

Combining the feedback received from its consultations with its additional research, the task force then produced a final report. The report is entitled “Canadians and Their Money: Building a brighter financial future”. It was publicly released in February 2011 and outlined 30 key recommendations to improve the financial literacy of Canadians. I encourage all Canadians watching at home to take a moment to visit the website at

On the website, Canadians can learn about the work of the task force, review its detailed research and read the final report. The report highlights the importance of improving financial literacy in Canada and the urgency to get it done. The task force states:

Financial literacy is critical to the prosperity and well-being of Canadians. It is more than a nice-to-have skill. It is a necessity in today’s world--and, moving forward, should be treated as such by policy-makers, educators, employers and other stakeholders across the country. The time for action is now.

As I mentioned, the report outlined 30 recommendations to support its call to action. The task force's number one recommendation was as follows:

The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada appoint an individual, directly accountable to the Minister of Finance, to serve as dedicated national leader. This Financial Literacy Leader should have the mandate to work collaboratively with stakeholders to oversee the National Strategy, implement the recommendations and champion financial literacy on behalf of all Canadians.

The task force's rationale for this recommendation was that while excellent work was being done across Canada to improve financial literacy, it was clear long-term improvements would:

—require a focused, centrally recognized champion. Clear leadership and coordination are needed at the national level. Sustained, steady progress over the long term is unlikely to be achieved without dedicated stewardship.

As such, the task force concluded that the government should create a position to lead and champion financial literacy and to successfully implement its own recommendations going forward.

The financial literacy leader act would do exactly that by proposing to amend the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act to allow for the appointment of a financial literacy leader.

Furthermore, the amendments proposed in the bill under consideration will allow the agency to work together with various stakeholders to support and contribute to financial literacy projects.

The bill also establishes the duties, powers and functions of the financial literacy leader. It will among other things enable the leader to conduct activities in support of this objective and it sets out the conditions of employment.

The appointment of someone to this important position, and the implementation of the other recommendations made by the task force, will lead to enormous progress towards improving financial literacy here in Canada.

This act, together with the many other steps taken by our government, will contribute to the financial security of all Canadians.

This includes the $5 million we invest annually in the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, sometimes known as the FCAC. By making this investment, we support FCAC in its efforts to help Canadians increase their knowledge and confidence in managing their personal finances. In carrying out this role, the agency also ensures that federally-regulated financial institutions, like banks, provide required information to their consumers in a transparent and timely manner and comply with all other consumer laws and regulations.

There are so many ways in which the Financial Consumer Agency is already hard at work helping Canadians, making it the perfect home for the financial literacy leader. For instance, the agency provides consumers with useful information about which credit cards may or may not be right for them, including comparison charts outlining the rates and features of the many credit cards offered in Canada.

It is an important service as there are more than 200 credit cards available on the market for Canadians to choose from. While having so many choices can benefit consumers through greater competition, decisions about which card is best can be challenging if the information is unclear. That is why it is vital that consumers have access to initiatives like those already provided by the agency, which can help them increase their understanding of different interest rates and potential fees.

To even better help Canadian consumers understand the forms they are signing, the FCAC has also created a new consumer-friendly model credit card application form that many major credit card providers have adopted.

The agency has also developed innovative methods of helping Canadians, such as a tool for rapidly calculating mortgage payments and potential savings that can result from accelerated payment plans. It also provides targeted online information to help consumers choose those bank products that best suit their needs.

Young people also benefit from FCAC financial literacy programs. The City, an educational program, is a very good example of this. It is an interactive Web tool designed to help young Canadians between 15 and 18 years of age to acquire financial skills. I highly recommend to all Canadians that they visit the FCAC site at to familiarize themselves with the tools available to make their lives easier.

FCAC will also be the perfect home for the financial literacy leader as the leader can quickly build on the important work the agency has already started. For instance, a number of community-based and non-profit organizations collaborated with the FCAC to make November financial literacy month. In fact, 75 organizations in all presented at 200 events and outreach initiatives across the country. This type of grassroots level collaboration will go a long way toward improving financial literacy in Canada, especially with the added support of the financial literacy leader.

I would, however, note that our Conservative government understands that even with the appointment of a financial literacy leader, sometimes even more will be required. While we do not believe, like the NDP, that the government should dictate and excessively regulate every aspect of a private business, we do believe in the importance of transparency, proper monitoring, consumer choice and competition. Indeed, when necessary, we have shown that we are ready to act to defend the rights of consumers.

That is why only recently our Conservative government acted to protect Canadians who used credit cards. After all, the last thing Canadians need is a surprise on their credit card statement at the end of the month.

The measures we introduced mandated that clear and simple information be displayed on credit card application forms and contracts and required companies to provide advance notice of changes in rates and fees. We also limited credit business practices that did not benefit consumers.

We introduced changes that required credit card issuers to provide consumers with a minimum 21-day interest-free grace period on all new purchases when consumers paid their balance in full by the due date. We also required a minimum 21-day grace period on all new purchases in a billing period, even if consumers had an outstanding balance they carried forward.

We moved important information, such as interest rates, grace periods and fees, off of the fine print buried in credit applications and contracts and into a prominent summary box so consumers would know exactly what kind of financial arrangement they were agreeing to when they signed an application. This measure also provides a clear picture of their debt load as they pay it off.

These initiatives are in effect today and are providing Canadian consumers with precisely the kind of improved financial information that leads to better decision making. Indeed, the president of the Consumers' Association of Canada welcomed these moves, declaring, “All of the things that the Finance Minister has done are actually just what we asked for...overall I've got to congratulate him”.

We have also introduced many other measures to better protect consumers. For example, we have prohibited negative optioning for financial products. We have also made mortgage insurance more transparent and reduced the hold period for funds deposited by cheque.

Before concluding, I would like to emphasize the importance of financial literacy and the need to pass the bill currently under review. Improving their knowledge of financial matters will help Canadians who want to save for retirement, buy a house or simply balance the family cheque book, and will also make our financial system more competitive and stable and our economy stronger.

That is why the government has set a priority on improving the financial skills of Canadians and why it plans to appoint a financial literacy leader.

In view of the growing number of financial services, it is essential to ensure that Canadians have effective tools and sound knowledge so that they can feel confident in their financial decisions.

In the words of Peter Nares, the executive director of Social and Enterprise Development Innovations:

[This] is the first step in a process that could help Canadians make better financial decisions. It could also help Canadians better weather the economic storms that will inevitably blow through the global economy from time to time.

That is why I urge the House to vote in support of the financial literacy leader act. I implore members of the opposition to take under consideration the fact that many consumers groups and consumers have been asking for these protections and that it is only fit for them to vote in favour of moving forward on this very important recommendation made by the task force. We intend to see this through.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:50 p.m.
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Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again, we are here discussing an issue that I believe is important to both the hon. member and me, as well as both of our parties. However, I liken this bill to cotton candy. It is very sweet, it smells good, it looks good, but there is absolutely no substance to it.

The hon. member talked about the recommendations and how the government is bringing forward the bill based on the recommendations. The original recommendation coming from the task force was that the financial literacy leader needed to have an advisory council that would include labour, voluntary groups, educators, as well as business stakeholders. That is not in this bill. Here is an important aspect of what the task force talked about and once again the government is ignoring it and just following through on what its ideology is.

I would like to hear the hon. member's comments on that.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:50 p.m.
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Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, both the NDP and the Conservatives talk a lot about consumer debt and how we might protect consumers. It is only this side of the House, though, that actually votes in favour of measures that will protect consumers.

I would remind the member that this act will in fact put in place a financial literacy leader who will be tasked as the champion for making sure that the other recommendations in this report are seen and moved forward.

We cannot put the cart before the horse, which is what the NDP member is asking. Therefore, I would expect that he and his party do the right thing and vote in favour of this legislation so we can in fact get that cart and buggy moving forward to protect consumers. They have to stop putting forward obstacles that make absolutely no sense.

Therefore, I would recommend that the member speak to his party and vote in favour of our measures.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:50 p.m.
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Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, most of us in the House and elsewhere recognize that financial literacy is important at this time, especially as we try to deal more seriously with the issues of pensions and so on. However, given the times that we are in, with the layoffs and job losses of many public servants here in Ottawa and throughout the country, I am questioning the timing. How do we deal with the issue of the laying off so many public servants throughout the country and establishing other departments?

Second, I see that the Parliamentary Budget Officer is starved for resources, as are Elections Canada and many other parts of the federal government family. How is the government going to rectify that?

Is the new office going to have enough resources and what costs are we are looking at? Will the government just create that office then not give it the resources it needs to do a very important job?

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.
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Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, it did not sound like the question had anything at all to do with the subject, that is, the financial literacy leader being put in place to act on the 30 recommendations of the task force, but I will answer the member's question.

The answer to the jobs problem is not what the Liberals have proposed. It is definitely not increasing corporate taxes. It is definitely not increasing CPP. It is definitely not supporting a 45-day work year as proposed by the member's party, the Liberal Party. Much of that is actually supported by the NDP.

We have a low tax agenda to create jobs and to give people hope and opportunity to make sure that they can thrive in Canada. We will not destroy that hope and opportunity by further taxing Canadians and destroying the job creators out there. We will not kill jobs as proposed by the Liberals and NDP. We are going to continue on our fiscal track for prosperity. We are going to continue on a track of economic growth. We are going to protect all Canadians with the budget that will be announced very shortly.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.
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Simcoe—Grey Ontario


Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, after the work the task force has done, I think we all know how terribly important a financial literacy leader is to all Canadians. People in my riding of Simcoe—Grey, particularly older ones, want to make sure that things are crystal clear to them from the information they are receiving. As the member mentioned, we need to make sure that we have the horse before the cart: we need to make sure that we have the leadership in place first before we move forward.

I wonder if the member could please expand upon what the financial literacy leader will mean for Canadians.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.
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Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know how hard my colleague works to help us move forward our agenda with regard not only to jobs and economic growth but also to protecting Canadians' social services and programs. I do want to take a moment to thank her for her dedication.

The bill before us today would allow the financial literacy leader to move forward on those recommendations to make sure that we are protecting consumers and that financial institutions understand how very important it is to make sure things are clear, to make sure that consumers understand what they are buying into, when dealing with either credit cards or contracts or mortgages.

The bill would allow the financial literacy leader to start taking those steps forward. We have spoken with so many different stakeholders but we have not heard any complaints about moving this forward. The task force did a fantastic job. We should take this priority recommendation of theirs and make it happen. We need the support of the opposition to do that in a timely manner. I suggest those members vote in favour of the bill.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.
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Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech given by the hon. member for Saint Boniface.

The OECD report “Financial Literacy and Consumer Protection” says that financial literacy has to be a complement to, rather than a substitute for, a framework for the regulation and prudential supervision of capital markets.

What does the hon. member think about the OECD statement?

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.
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Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

As I said earlier, we are talking about a financial literacy leader who will take into consideration all the information available. As I said, we need the NDP to vote in support of this act, so that the financial literacy leader can implement the measures that the hon. member is referring to.

Once again, I suggest that he vote with us to move the bill forward.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 2 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

There are two minutes remaining in questions and comments for the hon. parliamentary secretary. However, the time for government orders has expired.

The House resumed 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.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 3:15 p.m.
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Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to point out some of the glaring problems in the government's bill, in its attitude to consumer protection in general and in regard to financial literacy specifically.

Obviously, a basic understanding of financial literacy is a good thing. Understanding how much the difference between a 5% and a 5.5% APR will cost over the lifetime of a loan, how long it will take to pay off a credit card if only the minimum payment is made each month, how much one needs to save each month for school or a car or to put money away for a down payment on a house or for retirement is clearly a benefit. The problem is that the government seems to think that encouraging these skills is a suitable substitute for a proper regime of consumer protection, retirement security and a proper strategy for economic growth.

This bill embodies the government's strategy or, more properly, the lack of strategy in addressing the issues that really matter to working and middle-class Canadians across the country. Specifically, the bill would create a financial literacy leader, a high level bureaucrat position, with the aim of encouraging financial literacy in the general public. At the same time, the government is calling on departments and agencies to slash spending. When the media is full of stories of tens of thousands of public servants being laid off, the government's answer to addressing this issue is to create a new, highly paid position. If we could guarantee that the position would be successful, that would be defendable, but there are a number of flaws in this bill, which leads me to believe that this position has little chance of success to start with.

The terms of reference for this position are extremely vague. While the holder of the post would be required to advance financial literacy, there is no definition of what constitutes financial literacy within the bill, nor any attempt to define how we could or should advance it.

Moreover, the original recommendation to create this position was very clear on the need for an advisory council that would include labour, voluntary groups and educators, as well as business stakeholders. They would be there to direct the work of the financial literacy leader. This bill does not include any legislation to create this advisory council and, as such, there is very little in the way of accountability.

Additionally, there is no proviso in the bill that would ensure that this position would be filled by someone who is fluent in both official languages. To me, it would seem necessary that someone who is expected to teach and encourage Canadians about financial literacy would be able to communicate in both French and English.

How able are we to teach financial literacy to Canadians? Human Resources and Skills Development Canada stats tell us that 26% of Canadians struggle with basic numeracy and that 20% struggle with basic literacy. However, the same government that is trying to sell Canadians on financial literacy being the answer to the economic problem is the same one that cut $17.7 million to adult literacy programs in 2006.

Without basic numeracy and literacy skills, how does the government expect Canadians to understand some of the more complex financial vehicles, which will apparently provide for them in their retirement.

Even for people who do not struggle with numeracy and literacy, finance is not a particularly comprehensible subject. As Barry McKenna, a business columnist for The Globe and Mail, states:

Looking to financial literacy to fill the void is like asking ordinary Canadians to be their own brain surgeons and airline pilots. The dizzying array of financial products, mixed with chaotic and increasingly irrational financial markets, makes the job of do-it-yourself financial planning almost impossible--no matter how literate you are. The average credit-card agreement is as intuitive as quantum physics.

It is clear from all the money spent by banks and other financial institutions on encouraging financial literacy that they see some benefit to it, but to what end? It does not take a genius to conclude that the banks like financial literacy because it allows them to expand their customer base. Encouraging people to take out savings and investment funds creates lucrative fees for banks and brokers. In fact, according to Morningstar, an investment research company, Canadian fees for equity funds are some of the highest in the world, being, on average, around two and a half times higher than fees in the United States.

Financial literacy, in this sense, is essentially a marketing exercise to create good customers. It teaches the benefits of saving vehicles but it is not necessarily critical of how financial vehicles work. It does not criticize plans where fund managers take a substantial fee regardless of the performance of the fund. It does not highlight how funds, like the CPP, regularly outperform private funds. It does not give enough weight to the inherent dangers of investing in the stock market.

As Paul Farrell, a MarketWatch columnist for The Washington Post puts it:

In spite of all the public hype about financial-literacy programs, the fact is Wall Street [or Bay Street] doesn’t want smart investors.

Bottom line: The last thing [its] wants is 95 million investors who are wise to [its] ...revenues would drop substantially if financially literacy really did work.

Even more worrying is the possibility that we increase the quantity of financial literacy available but without ensuring its quality. This has two dangerous and interlinked consequences. The first is that the model shifts all the blame off banks and onto consumers. At the individual level, people are to be blamed for their own uninformed choices and, at the national or even international level, systemic problems are no longer the fault of the banks that lend beyond their means but the individuals who borrowed too much. Obviously, individuals do have a responsibility to manage their own finances but the banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions have the ability to effect the economy in a much more profound way than individual consumers, and we must not forget that.

What do we do for the people who actually end up worse off due to financial investments that fail? We need to understand that some people will lose their savings when businesses go bust or when the stock market drops. This has been the way the stock market has worked since the first recognizable stock exchange opened in Amsterdam in the 17th century.

What about those people who simply do not have the type of disposable income required to invest in their futures, the people who live paycheque to paycheque, the people who have seen their wages stagnate and fall in real terms since the mid 1990s? For both of these groups of people, a social safety net and regulatory system based on so-called financial literacy is a failure.

Lauren Willis, a professor at Loyola Law School, sums up these problems. He says:

For some consumers, financial education appears to increase confidence without improving ability, potentially leading to worse decisions. When consumers find themselves in dire financial straits, the regulation through education model blames them for their plight, shaming them and deflecting calls for effective market regulation. Requiring consumers to act as their own financial experts is socially inefficient.

What should the government do to fix Canada's broken system of financial consumer protection? For a start, it could build on what it is already doing, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has already been commended for the work it has done in regard to financial literacy by earning a public service award of excellence in citizen-focused service delivery from the Treasury Board in 2010.

If the government feels that financial literacy is something worth pursuing, why does it not spend money on programs that have already proven effective, rather than starting from scratch in a program that we cannot be sure will be successful and will likely be more expensive due to the financial literacy leader's salary and office costs?

The government should recognize that for a large portion of Canadians a lack of savings is a reflection of the disparity between the rise in the cost of living and the rise in wages over the last 15 years or so. Encouraging savings is fine for people who have disposable income after they have paid for essentials. Unfortunately, however, for all too many people, taking on debt is not a choice. It is the only way to survive.

An OECD report published in 2011 pointed out that the trend toward a less progressive tax structure and a more unequal society here in Canada began in the mid-1990s under the then Liberal government and has continued since 2006 under the Conservatives.

As Canadian economist, Jim Stanford, noted in his submission to the national financial literacy task force:

Personal savings will never constitute an important source of financial security for the strong majority of Canadians who cannot save, given the paucity of their incomes.

This argument was reported by numerous submissions to the task force but these points were noticeably absent from the final report. It simply did not meet the goal of the task force to point out that the very thing it was pushing may not have all of the answers. Financial institutions already make a large amount of money from these individuals who are forced to carry credit card debt from month to month and who are unable to keep the significant balance in their current accounts required by banks to waive the monthly service fees. If the government really wanted to give these people an opportunity to build up their own savings, then it would regulate these types of fees and the level of interest that is charged on credit cards in order to allow people to put aside a bit of money every month.

Similarly, if the government wants to ensure that Canadians have adequate savings when they retire, the way forward is not to create a new and inherently risky vehicle for private savings. There are already multiple methods for Canadians to save for their future, as RRSPs and TFSAs spring to mind, if they have the funds available to invest, and these vehicles are already supported and funded by the government. Studies have shown that the highest earning 11% of Canadians contribute more to RRSPs than the bottom 89% of tax filers combined. Because of the tax benefits of investing in RRSPs, Canadian taxpayers subsidize that contribution by the top 11% of earners to the tune of $7.3 billion in annual net tax expenditures.

The creation of pooled registered pension plans, or PRPPs, would only benefit those people who are already able to invest in their retirement. They would do nothing for the 30% of Canadian families that lack any form of retirement savings outside of the CPP.

Encouraging people to invest in a risky vehicle on the stock market is not real leadership on financial planning. It simply passes the entire risk and blame for an individual not having adequate retirement savings onto that individual. Now we have the Conservatives musing about delaying the age at which Canadians are eligible for OAS from 65 to 67. How can Canadians properly expect to plan for their retirement when the government tries to change the rules of the game?

If the government were truly interested in Canadians' retirement security and in allowing Canadians to properly plan for their retirement, it would make far more sense to say categorically that it will not change the eligibility age for the OAS and commit to the NDP plan to expand the guaranteed Canada–Quebec pension plan by phasing in an affordable doubling of benefits to a maximum of $1,920 a month. This plan has been called for by provinces across the country as it would give Canadians both the ability to plan for their retirement and a guaranteed income to ensure they can retire with dignity.

Moreover, the CPP is a much safer investment than market-based private funds and consistently outperforms the market. Even business columnists, like the aforementioned Barrie McKenna at The Globe and Mail, have pointed out the benefit of such a policy, stating:

And Ottawa could beef up the CPP, mandating Canadians sock away more money for retirement, while benefiting from the CPP's low costs.

However, so far the government and the Minister of Finance in particular have not listened to this appeal for a real and proven way of ensuring Canadians can retire with dignity.

In summary, it worries me that so much time and effort will be taken up by this piece of legislation which is little more than spin carried out by the government. If this were such an important thing for the government to move forward with, I wonder why it could not be included in the financial system review act rather than being a stand-alone act. It appears to me the only reason these did not go together was that the government hoped it could get some positive media out of this legislation. However, as I have pointed out, this legislation is deeply flawed because it does so little to address the real problems affecting Canadians. This so-called solution is the equivalent to using a band-aid to fix a broken leg.

The NDP believes in real measures to protect consumers, seniors and low-income Canadians. Unfortunately, the government is not interested in anything more than spin and publicity when it comes to this issue. At a time when the government keeps talking about spending cuts, I think there are far better ways the government could spend the funds that would be spent to bring forward this proposal.

My colleagues in the official opposition and I will continue to stand up for policies that really help hard-working Canadians. Unfortunately, this is not such a policy, which is why I will be voting against the bill as presented.

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 3:30 p.m.
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Newmarket—Aurora Ontario


Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that we are having the opportunity to debate this piece of legislation. I personally think that knowledge is power and the more often we can educate Canadians on their financial literacy, the better off we are going to be in the long run.

I am very pleased that many of the banking institutions in Newmarket—Aurora have seen fit to open their premises to hold seminars for constituents. They too believe that knowledge is power and that every opportunity to give people more information about financial literacy is going to be of assistance to them. I am sorry to hear that the opposition is not going to assist.

I note the bill says that we are going to collaborate and coordinate activities with stakeholders to contribute to and support initiatives to strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians. Could the member speak to institutions in his riding which may be looking to partner with us on these initiatives and work with the banking institutions that are there?

Financial Literacy Leader ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 3:35 p.m.
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Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree there are many institutions right across the country that are having to hold seminars and town halls because of the government's inaction on protecting consumers, because of the government's inaction on making sure that consumers understand their credit card bills.

The government is all talk. I said earlier that it is like cotton candy. The government's action on consumer protection is like cotton candy: it is sweet and fluffy, but there is absolutely no substance.

When we look at the financial task force report, when it talked about creating a financial literacy leader, one thing it said very clearly in the original recommendation was that the leader have an advisory council that includes educators, the banking institutions and business leaders. What is not included in the bill is that recommendation. That being said, we cannot support the bill unless there are more teeth in it.