Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question.
We favour having the law apply to everybody. In the past, if a student, two years after finishing their studies, could not pay back their debt, that student had a right, just like anybody else, to file for bankruptcy.
One feels sorry for the student, in a way. Let us take a frequent occurrence in rural areas. People pursue their studies in a university out of their region, they come back home, but they do not find work. They already have to start paying back their debt, even though they do not have a job.
From the start, the student in debt is treated in the same manner as a person who has filed for bankruptcy. The student has no right to file for bankruptcy, but the debt is recorded with collection agencies. They get their first job. They want to buy a car, but have no right to do so, because collection agencies have a file on them. They want to buy a house to get a start in life, but cannot do so because their debt is recorded with collection agencies, and all that even though they have not filed for bankruptcy. In fact, the mistreatment they suffer is twofold. It is discrimination. It is not fair that they be considered second-class citizens.
The government has introduced this measure because too many students were going bankrupt. If this is the case, perhaps we should analyze the cost for the student. What did the government do? It balanced its budget and had a zero deficit, saying that it did not want to transfer the debt to the future generation, but wanted to pay it before the arrival of the future generation. What it did was transfer the debt to the future generation directly through universities. After university, it is now the student who is in debt, not the country. The debt has been transferred to these young students. Who are these students? They are our children. This is what the government has done. It has put our children in dire straits. This is what this Parliament has done. It is not right.
Perhaps several members here already belong to big corporations, represent these and do not have any problem paying for their children. However, there are parents in Canada who cannot pay for their children and these latter are forced to go into debt.
It is quite sad. The government has put into debt many young students in Canada who cannot go back.
Nowadays, a young university student graduates with $40,000 in debt. If they have met someone who has studied at the university level and they decide to live together, that translates into a $80,000 debt. Suppose they do not work at the same place and both buy a small car costing $10,000, the debt soars to $100,000. If they want to buy a $80,000 house—and that is not expensive—the debt reaches $180,000 and they have not had babies yet. That is what the government has done to our children.
Bill C-55 provides an opportunity to adjust the situation so as to help our students. We should grant them the same rights in the area of bankruptcy and help them pay their student debts, not bury them in debt as is the case today.