moved that Bill C-419, An Act to amend the Bank Act, the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Insurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act (credit cards), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps telling Canadians that everything is okay, that it is all right, that we are growing and that we are prospering as a country. We have to ask the question: For whom is it okay? The answer to that is him. Right now, Canada's economy, Canada's situation, is okay for the Prime Minister. Why is that? It is because he inherited a family fortune.
Since being elected in 2015, I have had the opportunity to talk with thousands of Canadians from coast to coast and from every way of life. What they are telling me is that life is actually getting more and more expensive. It is difficult to make ends meet. It is impossible to get ahead.
At the end of the month, we know that nearly half of all Canadians are within $200 of not being able to make their bill payments. I am not talking about fancy things. I am talking about food on the table or shelter over their heads, and they are within $200 a month of not being able to make those payments. The margins are tight. Canadians are feeling crunched and they are asking that those of us on this side of the House advocate on their behalf, which is exactly what we will do.
While the Liberals are focused on making life more expensive for Canadians by imposing new taxes, such as the carbon tax, we on this side of the House will advocate for Canadians to be able to get ahead. That is really what the proposed credit card fairness act is all about. We have taken the time to listen to Canadians and we know that they deserve better. Canadians deserve fairness and they deserve transparency surrounding the use of their credit cards so that they can make financial decisions that will empower their households and help them get ahead. Being able to enjoy financial stability and security starts with having access to information so that households can make the decisions that are in fact right for them as individuals. The proposed credit card fairness act would assist.
As Conservatives, we want to find ourselves on the side of those who dream for a better tomorrow, those who work hard, those who stretch their limits, those who are trying to build a new life, those who dream of home ownership, those who call Canada their home. While the Prime Minister is concerned with protecting his family wealth and imposing more taxes on everyday Canadians, those of us on this side of the House will continue advocating on behalf of Canadians and protecting their wealth.
Conservatives understand that the federal government, regardless of the party in power, has two primary responsibilities. One is to look out for the safety and security of Canadians and the second is to make decisions and put policies in place that will help advance our economic state as a nation and lead to economic prosperity for individual households. Sadly, the current government has not done either of these points well, but it is on the second that I will focus my attention today, which is economic prosperity and well-being.
The Prime Minister has proven to Canadians over and over again that he is in fact a hypocrite. He ran on an election promise that he would only take a very small deficit over the course of three years and then in the fourth year he would balance the budget. He promised Canadians that he would balance it by 2019, which is this year.
However, year through year, the Liberal government has taken on one deficit after another, and this year alone it took on $21 billion. According to Finance Canada, the budget will not be balanced until at least 2040, which is a long time away. Let us not forget that this debt load does not just sit there stagnant. It actually incurs further debt because of interest rates. We, Canadians, pay that interest. Everyday, hard-working Canadians pay that interest rate.
Every year that the Prime Minister runs deficits, he is not just spending our money, but he is borrowing money from the next generation, those who come after us, those who are children right now and who are innocent in this decision-making process of the current Prime Minister. That is not just irresponsible but it is cruel. It is cruel to the next generation that has to take that credit card bill from the current Prime Minister and pay it off.
Today, my colleagues and I on this side of the House put forward a motion that said:
That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.
We just voted on this motion and the current government voted no. What the Liberals are communicating to the Canadian public in making that statement is that they will not eliminate the deficit and that they do in fact plan to raise taxes.
It is important to highlight this because we are going into a very important year: 2019. It is an election year and Canadians will have an opportunity to make a choice, to exercise their decision-making process at the ballot box. Here is what we know. We know that should the Liberals get another term in government they will not balance the budget and we know they will increase taxes. Therefore, we can be assured that the cost of living for every single Canadian across the country will go up.
The Prime Minister continues to tell Canadians everything is fine, but we have to stop and ask ourselves the very basic question, “For whom is it fine?” When I talk to Canadians from coast to coast, they sure are not fine, but the Prime Minister is fine because he is cushioned by his family wealth. He would like us all to believe him, so he will continuously repeat his statement, as if the more times he says it the more it will become true. However, the reality is that is not how things work. The only way things will get better is with a better government in place.
Thirty-seven million Canadians deserve better. For them, life is becoming more and more expensive. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians have no money left at the end of the month and are unable to cover their payments. That is atrocious. Things are clearly not getting better. The unfortunate thing is that under the current government things are only going to get worse, as they admitted just moments ago, because they are going to impose a carbon tax. The carbon tax starts off small, but grows very quickly. In fact, government documents show us that after the election, which is convenient, the carbon tax will increase by 15 times. That is huge. For a family of four, that could result in an additional cost of $5,000 per year. I do not know about others but for the majority of Canadians I talk to, particularly those in my riding but in other parts of the country, $5,000 a year is a lot of money. That is a lot to put out of their pocketbooks. It is a lot to spend on what exactly?
The Prime Minister continuously tells people that the carbon tax is somehow taking emissions out of the environment, that it is somehow taxing pollution and, therefore, preventing it from becoming a bigger problem, yet at the same time he is allowing the largest emitters in the country to go free. He is letting them off the hook. They will not pay a cent. Meanwhile, shame on those individuals who are driving their children to soccer games or running small businesses or heating their homes in the middle of winter. How dare they? Those individuals are going to be paying a massive carbon tax. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister continues to sit with a smirk on his face because he is cushioned by his family wealth.
I was recently out door knocking and I had the opportunity to knock at one house where an elderly woman came to her door. When she saw the button on my jacket that identified who I was, she smiled a little and invited me in. I came into the front entrance of her home. She ran into the kitchen and I could hear her shuffling through some papers, and then she returned to the door. She had her utility bill in her hand.
In the province of Alberta, we already face the carbon tax, so it is only an indication of what is to come for the rest of the country. In her utility bill is a line that says the amount she is paying for her carbon tax. She circled it for me and she began to share her story. This is an elderly woman, living on a fixed income. She said she has a choice to make, because that line she circled is the same amount that she budgets per month to go out on a weekly lunch date with her friends from the community. She faces the choice of letting that go or not being able to fully pay off her bill. At the end of the day, she is going to choose to let go of those lunch opportunities.
The members of the party opposite are kind of laughing at that. They do not think it is a big deal, but here is why it is a big deal. This is an everyday Canadian. This woman is 76 years old, living on a fixed income and she is forced now to stay in her home. She has become a shut-in, not because she is immobile but because a carbon tax has been imposed on her and no longer can she afford to go out and enjoy a coffee and a bowl of soup with her friends. That is not a laughing matter. That is real life. That is Canadian life.
I understand that those on that side of the House might not understand that, particularly the Prime Minister, with his trust account. I understand that there are others over there who are in a similar situation and have wealth tucked away, but that is not the story of those in my riding, and it is not the story of millions of Canadians across this country.
I would ask that the government do more to support everyday Canadians. Chances are that the Liberals are not going to do that. In fact, they just voted to say that they will not, so it is up to us on this side of the House, and this is where I come in.
I have put forward a private member's bill called the credit card fairness act. Since being elected in 2015, I have had the opportunity to travel across this country and talk to Canadians. They are the ones who are telling me that life is more expensive. They are telling me that fairness and transparency around credit card use matters. They are the ones who are telling me that their household debt load is significant, and they are the ones who are telling me that they want to be treated fairly. Therefore, I am advocating on their behalf. That is what this bill is all about.
Unfortunately, banks engage in a number of deceptive practices that create a debt trap that many Canadians find it difficult to get out of. Sometimes Canadians make unfortunate decisions, and some of that debt is their own doing. I understand that. However, for others, that is not the case. For others, there are changes that can be made to assist them so that they are better served and more empowered to make good decisions that are the right decisions for them.
If passed, the credit card fairness act would do seven things.
Number one, those who make a payment on a bill but do not quite pay it in full would not have to pay interest on the entire thing. It would just be on the amount that was not paid. Right now, that is not the case, and it is not fair. If individuals have a bill for $3,000 but have missed the full payment by two cents, they do not just pay the interest they missed at the end of the billing period; they pay the interest on the entire amount of $3,000 they were originally charged. I do not think that is fair. Canadians do not think that is fair. It needs to be changed.
Number two, if people have a high-interest debt and a low-interest debt, the amount they pay would first go toward the high-interest debt. That is fair.
Number three, the bill would require banks to disclose exactly how much interest the cardholder was being charged in a 12-month cycle. This would help create transparency, it would help create information and it would help people make empowered decisions.
Number four, further transparency is created when marketing materials are giving all the information up front rather than withholding it and blinding people to it and then surprising them at the end. Right now, that is often case. We want to stop that.
Number five, we want to prohibit banks from being able to increase interest rates retroactively. In other words, if an individual spends money on his or her card at an interest rate of 15%, because that is what was signed off on, it is not okay for the bank to then hike the interest rate and send a bill at 21% interest. Right now, that happens, and it is not fair to Canadians, and I will advocate on their behalf.
Number six, this private member's bill would require banks to provide an online mechanism by which individuals who hold cards can cancel their cards. This is common sense. Most of us do our banking online. It is just the way things are nowadays. Most of us have a credit card, because we need it for Uber, we need it for Amazon purchases and we need it to book a hotel room. Therefore, we have a credit card. Sometimes we want to cancel that credit card. We used to be able to do that online. Right now, that is not the case. Credit card companies and banks make people go in and do it. That is not fair. We would change that.
Number seven, and my final one, is to legislate that banks must obtain consent before increasing a cardholder's limit. Again, this simply comes down to basic human decency. If they are going to change the terms of an agreement, they had better tell the individual holding the card, because it is the right thing to do.
I am asking my colleagues on the opposite side of this House to support this bill, but I am going to guess that they probably are not going to. On this side of the House, we will advocate for everyday, average, hard-working Canadians every single day of the week. On that side of the House, they will shelter their wealth, and they will punish Canadians every single day of the week. They just voted on it. They said they were going to hike taxes. They said they have no intention of balancing the budget. That is not okay. We are going to fight for Canadians. They are going to fight against Canadians. We are going win the next election.