Mr. Speaker, as the new official opposition critic for economic development in Quebec, I am pleased to contribute to the debate on Bill C-26, which would increase employee and employer contributions to the Canada pension plan.
It is important that we debate this bill because many Canadians are currently unaware of the consequences of the Liberal plan. What is worse, many of these changes will only be implemented in 2019. Therefore, it will be impossible to assess the impact and the potential harm of this bill before the next election.
Why wait? That is because the Liberals know that every Canadian's income will decrease and that thousands of jobs will be put at risk by imposing an additional burden on businesses, including SMEs, which are the backbone of our economy.
A total of $2,200 a year will be collected from workers and the entrepreneurs and businesses that create jobs. The Liberals are tight-lipped about that. An Ipsos poll published last month provides supporting evidence, by showing that 80% of Canadians want to be consulted before increases in contributions to the retirement program take effect. This same poll also revealed that 70% of workers do not support the CPP expansion if it affects wage increases, which is very likely.
The Liberal government is also claiming that it is listening to young people, but if it took the time to explain to millennials what is about to be imposed on them, they would be taking to the streets to protest this government's attitude.
Let us put this in perspective. The Maple Spring of 2012 in Quebec occurred as a result of the provincial Liberal government's decision to increase tuition by $1,625 a year. Students are supposed to be able to complete a bachelor's degree in three years in Quebec. If a tuition hike of $1,625 a year for three years caused that much outrage among young people, how will they react if word gets out that the federal Liberals are about to take $2,200 away from them every year for the rest of their working lives, which will likely span four decades or more?
I can already tell that the Liberals opposite are going to say that they are investing for the millennial generation's future. Is that really the case? Let us look at the numbers to determine whether young people will really come out ahead. Take for example a taxpayer who earns the maximum amount of $82,700 proposed by Bill C-26. At the current contribution rate of 9.9%, this worker would be entitled to a pension worth 25% of his salary or $20,675. If the contribution rate is increased to 11.9%, as proposed in Bill C-26, the worker would be entitled to a pension worth 33% of his salary or $27,291. That is an increase of less than $7,000 a year. A person who earns an average income of $40,000 would only get $3,200 more, and that income would also be taxable.
However, if instead we allow families to take the $2,000 a year that would be confiscated from them under Bill C-26 and invest it themselves in a TFSA, for example, in 40 years they will have saved over $280,000, which is a rate of return of 5% per year. When they retire, they would have an additional $14,000 a year or double what they are being offered under the Liberals' retirement plan.
What is even better, is that, unlike the CPP payments, that money would be completely tax free. They can always contribute more if they want, although the Liberals chose to reduce the TFSA contribution limit to $5,500 after we increased it to $10,500 in our last budget.
There are also other advantages to preferring a TFSA over an increase in the CPP. If a person dies, the amount of his TFSA goes to his estate. The money goes to family, friends, or the charity of his choice. On the other hand, if a person dies and all his pension funds have been invested in the CPP, the government takes the money. There is only a reduced annuity of 60% for the survivor in the couple, if the couple has remained married, as is not always the case as we can see from today’s divorce rate, or a meagre $237 per month for the children, only up to age 18, or to age 25 if they remain in school. For everyone else, nothing.
Of course, all this applies only if the CPP remains solvent. Our population is getting older, and life expectancy has increased considerably since the introduction of the CPP in the 1960s. Young taxpayers have no guarantee that the money will be there when they need it. The Liberals dipped multiple times into the employment insurance fund under the Chrétien and Martin governments. It is difficult for us to trust them again.
The CPP Investment Board says it will be solvent for the next 75 years. The former Pearson and Trudeau governments thought that as well, with a combined contribution rate of 3.6%, which proved inadequate. The Chrétien government had to triple the rate to 9.9% in the 1990s. Instead of examining long-term solutions, as our former government was doing, to ensure the continuity of the CPP fund by progressively raising the retirement age to 67, the new Liberal government has no other solution but to further tax workers and employers in order to mask the problem. Furthermore, many specialists have said that putting the retirement age back at 65, contrary to what we did, would cost the government billions of dollars in the years to come.
Bill C-26 increases the contribution to 12%, and if the Liberals’ sunny ways and rose-coloured glasses projections again prove incorrect, what guarantee do we have that it will not be necessary to hike CPP contributions again in 10 years or 20 years? If that is not a Ponzi scheme, I would like to know what is.
Faithful to its current policy of buying Canadians’ votes with borrowed money, the Liberal government goes on dreaming that it can continue to ask future generations to pay for its mismanagement. That is cross-generational theft, and it is absolutely shameful.
This is why we are going to oppose the passage of Bill C-26. This bill is going to cost more for workers and entrepreneurs, of whom I am one. I have mentioned several times in the House that I am an entrepreneur. I have 25 employees and, for my company, this policy represents $25,000, even almost $30,000 in additional costs per year. What will probably happen is that I will be forced to abolish a position or a position and a half to be able to provide this amount to the workers’ fund. So this is jeopardizing thousands of jobs, it will be of no assistance whatever to persons already retired, and it will make it increasingly difficult for companies to create jobs.
The government has to consult the people who will be paying the tab. If it had done so, Bill C-26 would never have appeared on the Order Paper.