Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak here today. I thank the members for allowing my colleague to share his time time with me. My colleague gave an excellent speech outlining our position on Bill C-26, introduced by the Minister of Finance.
Seniors today should be worried about what the Minister of Finance said in the House earlier this morning in his speech on Bill C-26. He claimed that they were very clear during their election campaign that they wanted to enhance the CPP. Now that we have seen the Liberals in action for a year, can we really take that kind of statement at face value? Definitely not.
Besides, what are seniors and Canadians in general supposed to think when a party says, during an election campaign, that it is going to enhance the CPP? What does this mean for the seniors in the riding of my colleague from Oakville, who said himself that people in his riding have lower incomes and there are needs to be met? They thought they would benefit right away if they voted for that party.
When people are promised an enhanced pension plan, they expect that promise to be kept sooner rather than later. They expect the government to get to work on it immediately, even if it does not make sense. They expect the party in question to keep its promises. CPP expansion will begin to be implemented in 2019 and be fully phased in by 2025.
When we talk about a long-term strategy, as the Minister of Finance did this morning, we have to put ourselves in seniors' shoes. “Long term” does not mean the same thing for someone who is 75 that it does for someone who is 50. Who are the seniors, who were misled by this government, that are really going to benefit from the CPP expansion? That is what we have to ask ourselves. The scary thing is what the Liberal government is not saying. What they are saying is nothing to worry about because they cannot be believed anyway, but what they are not saying is even scarier.
If during the last election campaign the Liberals had told seniors they were going to improve their pension plan in seven or eight years, not a single senior in my riding would have voted for them. In my riding, the average income is not very high. We have gone through some serious crises in the Thetford Mines region, including the asbestos crisis. Incomes are not very high, the miners do not have a lot of money, and out of the blue they are told that their pension plan is going to go up. Who would not want a better income, especially those who make lower wages?
Unfortunately, that is not what the Liberals intend to do. What is more, they are going to increase taxes for the these people who have limited means, stripping them of their benefits. The government raised taxes right away, and these people will be the first victims of the arrogance of the Liberals, who make all sorts of promises they may well never deliver on. I hope that we will be back in 2019 to clean up their mess. If they are allowed to continue for another four years, it will be terrible and there will be no turning back.
It is important to stick to the facts. The government has been in power one year. It is against that backdrop that they introduced Bill C-26 today. The government broke its promise to have a modest deficit and is borrowing three times the amount that it said it would. Last week, TD Bank reported that the deficit could reach $34 billion because of the economic situation.
What exactly is the economic situation? They promised to create jobs; they did not. They did not even keep their promise to improve the lives of Canadians, because the best way to do that is to give them jobs.
That is the reality. Obviously, I am concerned about the announcement that the Minister of Finance made this morning, but what is even more worrisome is that our Prime Minister is not at all concerned. There is no problem. Yes, perhaps the deficit will be $34 billion because the economic conditions are not good. Yes, the rate of growth is lower than expected and that is not good, but it is not a problem. Canadians will pay for it later.
Will there be any money left in the coffers to pay for the promises that the government made to seniors in Bill C-26? The government does not have an answer to that question because it has been improvising on everything from the start.
The government broke its promise to reduce small business tax rates. What will be directly affected by Bill C-26? Small businesses, which will also have to increase their CPP contributions. The government is promising to help businesses and create jobs, but the reality is once again a different story. The government wants to promise the best of everything; it does not talk about the worst, but imposes the worst anyway. That is the reality of the Liberal government.
Today, I can say, without question, that the Liberal government has betrayed seniors with the false promise that it would immediately improve their lives. That is the reality. When the government promises people who are 75 or 80 years old that it is going to increase their pension benefits, those people do not expect to have to wait until they are 87 for that to happen.
I heard my colleagues opposite telling us that this is going to help low-income seniors. Wrong. The increased benefits will help those with higher incomes. Those with low incomes will not benefit at all from these changes to the Canada pension plan. That is something else that is being left unsaid by the Liberal government.
We will have to learn to always read between the lines of what the Liberals are saying. Unfortunately, that is what Canadians will be learning the hard way in the coming weeks and months.
Still, people can take comfort in knowing that we are here. Our new finance critic, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent will keep a very close eye on this government, which has no qualms about imposing new taxes on the middle class and businesses. It has no problem letting the deficit grow ever larger so it can achieve its objectives. The worst part is that it does not seem too worried about it.
Higher CPP benefits mean more money coming out of hard-working Canadians' paycheques. Maybe it will help them someday when they retire, but the way things are going now, we should all be leery of the Liberal government's grand promises. As a matter of fact, I have no faith in their projections, which are not even valid for a week, let alone until 2025. Something is going to happen. The Liberals will change things, tweak things. Why? Because they messed up the math. Their projections are inaccurate, and they will not be able to keep their promises.
What really worries me is what the Liberals are going to do if they do not have the money. I would not be surprised if they use that tried and true Liberal tactic: instead of a small increase, there will be a big increase, and it will cost all of us a lot more, and poor people will still have no more than they did before.