Madam Speaker, yesterday when I was talking about participating in the debate on Bill C-55 I mentioned a few changes this bill was recommending, particularly regarding employees. When an employer goes bankrupt, the wages earned by employees should be paid prior to other creditors.
I also talked about the impact on small businesses, as well as financial institutions. I also talked about locked in RRSPs not being part of the payments during bankruptcy.
Then I talked about the bill's impact on students. As members know and as the report states, the Senate banking committee recommended that student debt be eligible to be erased in a bankruptcy five years after the student completed his or her studies. In the case of hardship, the recommendation was that the court be allowed to discharge student loan debt in a period of time shorter than five years.
Bill C-55 does not go as far as the Senate committee recommendation. Instead, the government proposes amending the law to allow student loans to be eligible to be written off in a bankruptcy if a student has terminated his or her studies seven or more years ago. Also, higher student loan limits and higher tuition fees ensure that the students will continue to graduate with higher debt loads. However, many graduates find few job opportunities. If they end up seeking bankruptcy, it is a decision not taken lightly.
The Liberal government is seeking to doubly punish the students. While the Liberals allow their friends and donors to get away with repaying only 2.4% of grants to loans, they expect young people to pay 100% of the student loans. Who are they trying to punish?
I am disappointed to see that Bill C-55 neglects to offer protection to firms that are suppliers to bankrupt companies. The reality is that the bankruptcy of one company can drag down many others with it, especially when suppliers are small businesses.
The current system is unfair to workers as well as to the students. It must be changed. The Conservative Party generally supports these amendments. We will allow the bill to pass, but we will continue to seek further clarifications.