Mr. Speaker, I like to think that we are talking about prudence in our public coffers, how money is spent and how programs are delivered.
Our chief actuary estimates that the number of beneficiaries will double by 2030, I believe. The old age security program is not supported by contributions. It is supported by the public purse, by the general revenue. It is $28 billion per year, which is 14% of our total government expenditures.
Think of a program of taxpayers dollars coming out of general revenue. If we put that in perspective, I would think that we are doing this in the best interests of the people who are paying into that fund. To compare it to the government trying to collect taxes is a little different. Those taxes are being paid into that fund and those persons are getting out of paying into something that they rightfully owe, and that is their taxes to the general revenues.
I would hardly compare those two, but I would try to put in perspective what this costs us. It is quite generous to go back one year because the guaranteed income supplement is calculated in the current tax year. I would like the member to think about it before we talk about retroactivity any more. I would like him to think about what this would mean.
Why would we spend our resources and time trying to go back? How many years would we go back? How many of these people would still qualify or would have just qualified for one year? All the work that we would have and the resources to go into that would in fact be better spent by continually trying to find good programs and provisions in the act. Some of these changes are going to cost us some dollars and some tax money.
I hope he will understand this. We talk about old age security and guaranteed income supplement. When we talk about the general revenue, 14% of the general revenue is spent on old age security, or $28 billion a year.