Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to talk on this topic of poverty. The government adheres to a socialist, archaic method of dealing with the issue of poverty that has proven to be an abysmal failure. If we are truly going to deal with poverty, there are a number of constructive solutions that have worked internationally to elevate those people who are in the lower socio-economic groups while not harming anybody else.
Traditionally this and previous governments have adhered to a socialist economic platform, that is, they have adhered to the notion that we must raise taxes and redistribute those moneys from the haves to the have nots. At a certain level that is appealing, but in effect what it actually does is retard and harm the ability of an economy to provide jobs and indeed to provide the investment in our social programs that we require to help those who simply cannot help themselves, the mark of a humane society.
We see this in Atlantic Canada, for example, where fiscal federalism, handouts from so-called have to have not provinces, have not had the effect that we would like. In actuality, they have hamstrung and retarded the ability of the competent, dynamic people of the Atlantic provinces to improve their economic situation. That is a fundamental difference between the Liberal government and the Canadian Alliance in how we would deal with poverty.
Our country has indeed the highest personal income taxes of any G-7 nation. When we look at the OECD countries, we see that we fit in at about the middle. This is a significant hindrance, because as I mentioned before it actually impairs the ability of the private sector, which is, as the former finance minister said, the prime generator of jobs in Canada, from being able to provide those jobs. It creates a brain drain to areas of lower taxes, lower regulations and lower restrictions on the ability of the private sector to provide those jobs and expand.
In the end, what would we propose in order to alleviate poverty in Canada and provide the resources for the social programs we have come to enjoy? I would propose the following.
First, nobody in the country who is making less than $20,000 a year should be paying personal income taxes. One cannot live on $20,000 a year, so why is the government taxing people who make less than that? The most important thing that the government can do for those in the lower socio-economic groups is abolish all personal income taxes for those making less than $20,000 a year.
Second, we need to flatten and simplify the tax structure. In our country today it is so difficult to do our taxes that most people require an accountant. Therefore I would suggest that there be two tax structures: one between $20,001 and $60,000, and one for those who make above $60,000 a year, lowering the tax structure for both those areas.
Third, the elimination of capital gains taxes would add a significant impetus to investment and research and development in our country.
Fourth, we should elevate the amount that people can put away in RRSPs and also increase the foreign ownership content.
Fifth, we should allow people to work. We are going to see in the changing demographic that we have in our country a very large bubble of baby boomers who are going to retire. The pension structure we have right now is not going to be sufficient to provide for those people, and many of those people have not saved up enough or invested well enough to be able to provide for themselves. We have to enable those people to work. What we should do is eliminate the mandatory retirement age of 65 and enable people between the ages of 65 and 70 to have a graded ability to accept their CPP while being able to earn money. That would take the pressure off the CPP while enabling individuals to work and to make an input into our economy.
We know that in the future with our changing demographics fewer people will be working and therefore fewer people will be paying taxes into the social programs we require. This contraction of the workforce in one area and the expansion of the retirement age will put an unsustainable amount of pressure on our social programs. The way to alleviate that is to abolish that retirement age of 65, enable people to work beyond that, keep the money they earn, and actually also earn a percentage but not a complete amount of the CPP.
Furthermore, with regard to the OAS and GIS, we can ensure that people who make less than $60,000 a year will receive that but those who make above that amount will not. This is to ensure that OAS and GIS will be there for those individuals at their retirement age.
We have to invest in education. Professional faculties are becoming the purview of the rich. There is no way that I could afford to go to medical school now on the income I had, even with working every summer. It is not possible. The professional faculties such as medicine and dentistry are becoming the purview of the rich. Individuals can go to these faculties if their families have enough money, but if they do not, they cannot attend even though they might be qualified. Our education system must be available for those individuals who have the competence to be accepted into those faculties.
We could adopt what I call an income contingent loan replacement fund. It would enable people to receive government loans and pay back those loans based on the amount of money they earn when they retire. Back in 1994 the former leader of the Reform Party also proposed this idea.
People should have greater labour mobility in Canada. The provincial barriers are a significant hindrance to labour mobility.
We should also encourage research and development. Lowering taxes would enable the private sector to invest in research and development. In so doing, Canada would regain its rightful place as the engine of growth and innovation.
Governments have to become much more efficient. We in the Canadian Alliance have always said that we want a smaller, more efficient government. Some people think we just want to slash and burn but that is not true. We want a government that states its objectives clearly, that measures those objectives and is transparent about them.
Too often ministries do not have specific measurable objectives. They do not state their objectives clearly, they do not measure them and we do not know what the outcome is. There is no transparency in government spending. If we had that we would have a more efficient government. The taxpayers' money would be better spent and we would be better stewards of that responsibility.
The mark of a humane society is to enable individuals to work, to thrive and to be the best that they can be. On the other hand, thankfully in our country as a mark of a humane society, we have social programs to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.
As the system is now, those in the private sector who are generators of our economy are being penalized and are being driven out of Canada. The poor are also being hurt because the prime generators of jobs have been squeezed out. The ability to generate jobs is being contracted which prevents people from getting jobs.
Because of the relatively high taxes, we are harming the ability to provide money for our social programs, for example, health care. Back in the early 1990s then Prime Minister Mulroney for one brief moment in time actually lowered taxes. His government found that because of the expansion of the economy, more tax money was going into the public coffers. There was more money for health care, education, and pensions. The bottom line was to take care of those who could not take care of themselves.
If we reversed that, those who adhere to the notion that raising taxes will somehow enable us to redistribute income to the have-nots would find that it actually impedes the have-nots from getting a job and getting the social programs they require. Social economics is voodoo economics. It has never worked. One only needs to look at what happened in northern Europe.
A job is the best social program anyone could ever have. We want to provide for those social programs. We want to enable people to work. We want to enable Canadians to be the best that they can be and provide for those who cannot provide for themselves.