Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for Burlington, if I that is agreeable.
Mr. Speaker, there is one initiative that stands above all others in this budget bill, because it would allow millions of Canadians, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to work hard and plan ahead to become more self-reliant, and even wealthy, over time. This is the bright future Conservatives want for all Canadians, especially our children and grandchildren. Ordinary people would have the independence that is available only to wealthy people now. That initiative is the tax-free savings account limit being increased to $10,000 a year.
Tax-free savings accounts are the most powerful savings vehicle in Canadian history. They will allow hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people to actually become millionaires.
Here are 10 reasons the Conservative government, in this bill, has the only plan for Canadians to conserve their earnings, build personal wealth, and be financially independent in their senior years: tax-free savings accounts.
Number one, they help our youth understand the importance of saving. What is the most important gift for financial success and security we could give our children and grandchildren? It is teaching them to be self-reliant and to work and save for their future using the power of compound interest. It is teaching them to not spend what they do not have, to not get buried in charge card debt and interest, to pay their bills on time, and to save for life's priorities, like education, a home, and their retirement.
The ratio of debt to net income is 1.6 for the average family in Canada right now. It is the highest ever. However, it gets worse. What happens when the interest rates go up, as they will? Hundreds of thousands of families will be trapped in monthly credit card payments at an 18% interest rate, or higher, that they will struggle to pay down.
By promoting saving as part of our culture, instead of credit card debt, we can help spare millions of young people from this interest rate trap that never ends.
Eleven million Canadians have opened their own tax-free savings accounts so far and agree with us. Every Canadian over 18 should try to save in a tax-free savings account. They should not be misled by the subterfuge of the Liberals, who are telling Canadians that tax-free savings accounts only help the rich. That is absolutely not true. It is never okay to mislead Canadians like this. It is shameful.
Here is the truth about tax-free savings accounts. Sixty per cent of those Canadians who have invested the maximum in tax-free savings accounts to date earn less than $60,000 a year. By whose standards are these people rich? No one's.
More than half of the Canadians who have opened tax-free savings accounts and have saved in them earn $40,000 a year or less. That is 5.5 million people. Are they rich? Certainly not.
The Liberals are setting us all up by saying that they will only increase taxes for the rich. What do they mean by that? Who is that? It is everyone who earns over $40,000, which is the vast majority of Canadians. They want to get their hands on that $6,600 our government has cut from the average Canadian family's tax bill.
The federal Liberal leader has already announced, on May 4, the Liberal plan to cancel our increase for tax-free savings accounts to $10,000 a year. That is a tax increase of the most foolish kind.
Number two, tax-free savings accounts are the great equalizer. Canadians who do not earn over $100,000 a year have only one way to become financially independent: save, invest, and watch their money grow. That is what tax-free savings accounts facilitate.
With tax-free savings accounts, ordinary Canadians who work and save can become wealthy. For example, a skilled tradeswoman electrician who took full advantage of her tax-free savings account limit from age 20, with a modest 4% return on stocks, could receive her first million dollars tax free by age 61. That is 13 years sooner than it would be without a tax-free savings account.
Tax-free savings accounts also grow our economy. When people open tax-free savings accounts with Canadian securities, their money goes to invest in Canadian enterprises that create jobs here in Canada. Businesses expand. Economic activity is boosted. That growth, over decades, could easily replace any lost government tax revenues from tax-free savings accounts.
Here is the problem. The Liberals and the NDP believe, and they want all Canadians to believe, that money not in government hands is not benefiting Canada. This is a Marxist hangover. It is nonsense.
Here is the truth. Money invested by Canadians is money that is loaned out to industry and job creators to help build Canada. Entrepreneurs are our most important creators.
This is reason number four: they support innovation and job creation. With tax-free savings accounts, entrepreneurs can tap into their accumulated tax-free savings to create new industry and replenish their accounts later as their businesses grow.
The fifth reason is that tax-free savings accounts are fair because the government should not tax all people's money twice. It saddens me to see our seniors, the people who built Canada, trying to live on interest on their savings that gets eaten up by inflation and then taxed. They are just falling further behind. With tax-free savings accounts, the federal government is forgoing the double taxation that prevents Canadians from growing their most important lifetime savings, leaving them one little pile of their own money to grow without interference. Canadians deserve that.
The sixth reason is that tax-free savings accounts shine a light on how ordinary Canadians have been robbed of their right to affluence and self-reliance. Big-spending governments, like both opposition parties would create, are addicted to spending and borrowing. Just look at Ontario right now. The Liberals and New Democrats believe that all money belongs to the government and Canadians just get to use it for awhile and governments can tax it back any time they want, any way they want, whenever they want. The Conservatives believe that money earned after tax belongs to the people who earn it. They should have at least one special account that the government has no right to touch, or even its growth, ever again.
The seventh reason is that tax-free savings accounts help ensure better health care for Canadians. Canadians who want to be able to afford choice in their own health care in their senior years should be saving as much as they need in tax-free savings accounts. The most hysterical socialists at the Broadbent Institute are playing the fear card, claiming that health care is threatened if the doubling of tax-free savings accounts is approved. They have no shame. The exact opposite is the truth.
The fact is that governments only cover 60% of our total health care costs. Canadians pay the rest, if they can afford to, such as dental care, chiropractic care, naturopathic care, homeopathic care, long-term care, blood tests, vitamins. We pay more for drugs than we do for doctors. We pay for long-term care. Let us face it, the nanny state is a failure.
People can save in the TFSA and be self-reliant so they are not left without the money they need to pay for these things. By saving $7,000 a year from age 25, at a modest 5% rate of growth, a 65 year old would have $887,000 to handle any such bills. No government could ever do that for them. If that same person saved $10,000 a year and got a 5% rate of return, he or she would have over $1.2 million. This drives the socialists crazy. They cannot stand that ordinary people could be that independent. Who would need the nanny state? That is why the socialists hate TFSAs and would get rid of them if elected.
The eighth reason is that TFSAs reduce the underground economy. TFSAs are registered savings plans. The government knows about them. They will help bring our considerable underground economy above ground by making it more attractive to invest in Canadian companies because the growth is tax free. The government will get more tax income from the companies that grow out of the investments and from their employees.
The ninth reason is that tax-free savings accounts support the flexibility of future governments to act. The Broadbent Institute claims that by 2080 the government will be short $15 billion that it otherwise would have had. That completely ignores the fact that some of those billions of dollars would have remained in the underground economy. It also ignores the multiplier effect of those dollars invested back in the economy and the fact that our economy, by that time, would be as large as $15 trillion. Therefore, $15 billion would be about .001% of such an economy. This is simple math. If governments are ever low on money, they can always raise taxes, reduce spending or borrow if need be. Tax-free savings accounts do not hinder any of that.
The tenth reason is that tax-free savings accounts at $10,000 a year are the absolute best deal Canadian taxpayers have ever been offered. They will motivate Canadians to work, to be entrepreneurs and employ others, to save and to be self-reliant. We can build a much greater nation with millions of citizens like that, and that is what we would do with this budget bill.