Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-462. From the outset, I would say that I support the bill put forward by my hon. colleague, which aims to cap the amount of fees an individual, an organization, or a company can charge people who are claiming or using the instrument of the disability tax credit.
The tax codes, the fiscal pages that govern this country, are large and many. One cannot blame individuals who feel that they need a hand in deciphering some of that information in order to use the various instruments and tools available to them to maximize their tax dollars and maximize their ability to make ends meet, especially in the case of people who are living with disabilities and the families that care for them.
The disability tax credit works for Canadians. It is something that, unfortunately, too many Canadians do not know enough about.
The only issue I have with Bill C-462 is that it does not go far enough in identifying and fixing some of the problems that lead to this need for disability tax credit promoters or agents. We need to take a look at that.
We all try to do the best we can for families. The people who stand in this House and work every day for their constituents are here because they believe in working for their constituents. In February, for example, I held a forum in my riding to give my constituents the information and tools necessary to apply for the disability tax credit. My colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster came and lent his expertise to the discussion. I had a very good turnout for that forum. As a result, I received word that a number of individuals who attended were able to apply for the disability tax credit and were eligible for some sizeable amounts of money retroactively due to that information.
That takes me to the crux of my discussion, which is that we, as the government and members of this House, need to put more emphasis and more energy into informing individuals about the need for promoters and agents who claim to be there to help individuals navigate the pages of the disability tax credit. I am sure that many are legitimate and are there to legitimately help individuals. However, as in every situation, a few bad apples give the practice a bad name. The need for these agents is the question I have. Why is it that the government, we as members of Parliament, are not giving our constituents the information they need to apply for those disability tax credits?
During the course of the months following the forum I gave, individuals would call my office, and my staff were able to help them fill out some of the forms or point them in the right direction as to what they should be doing. This is something I think is lacking with respect to this bill. It is one thing to say that we will cap the fees and that agents or promoters who violate those caps would be in trouble. It is another to provide the means, the opportunity, and the information Canadians need to not have to avail themselves of promoters and/or agents in this area of disability tax credits.
The other side of that is the cuts. Even though the government is claiming that the cuts to the CRA services available to Canadians to get the help they need are not affecting Canadians, is not true. Canadians are having a harder time getting in touch with the agencies to be able to get the information that they need, to navigate the pages, be it the tax act, employment insurance, Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency. Canadians are having a harder time getting that type of information. It creates a false need for these promoters and agents, particularly in the disability tax area.
This opens the door to people charging exorbitant amounts for their services, as was said in the House previously. Some 30% to 40% of the moneys that are due end up going to certain types of promoters and certain types of agents. It behooves us as members of the House and as the government to make sure that Canadians have the information that they need in terms of instruments such as the disability tax credit, so they do not have to lean on outside or private interests to help them.
I stand in support of the heart and soul of the bill, but I take issue with the fact that the maximum amounts were not identified at committee. Will the government let the legitimate members of the community who are out there trying to help people make the best of the disability tax credits know? How will they know what those caps are? How will they know if they are crossing the line? On the other side of that coin, how will people who are claiming disability tax credits and looking for the help of these agents and promoters know what their rights are in terms of what can be charged to them?
Again, I stand in support of the bill and it is a step in the right direction in regard to protecting consumers from opportunistic individuals or organizations, but it can go a little further. It begs the question, what more can we do as the government? What more can we do as members of Parliament to make sure that our constituents and Canadians know what their rights are and know how to access instruments such as the disability tax credit?
I will use my last 30 seconds to thank the Speaker for his ear. It is a pleasure to stand in the House and speak to a bill such as this.